Situps, crunches and leg lifts can be effective to tone and tighten your midsection, but they require you to start out in a supine position on your back. This most often means lying on the floor. Even with an exercise mat, lying on the floor may be uncomfortable due to injury, floor surface or even drafts of wind. If you find this is the case, look no further than your bed for a new workout surface.
Check Your Equipment
If you do decide to do some ab routines on your bed, take a minute to analyze your mattress. ACE Exercise Physiologist Pete McCall notes that traditional situps and crunches performed on the floor can force the spine into the ground and cause lower-back pain. Although the softness of your bed surface can alleviate this discomfort, inadequate support from a sagging mattress platform can also cause back strain and discomfort. Your mattress should be firm and flat without obvious sagging springs. If needed, you can give yourself more stability by using a padded board on top of your mattress.
Any time is a great time to work your muscles, including any time you happen to be in bed. You can easily incorporate some abdominal work while you watch TV in bed at night, while you are reading a book before you go to sleep or while you spend time meditating in bed before rising in the morning. In fact, if you find yourself pressed for time to work out during the day, make a commitment to spend commercial breaks doing ab crunches. In the course of a 30-minute television program, you could easily spend at least 10 minutes working out your abdominals.
It's possible there may be a time when ab exercises in the bed are your only option. You could be laid up with an illness or injury that requires you spend a substantial amount of time off your feet. In this case, you may be better off doing a few daily crunches in bed rather than forgoing ab work completely. Keeping your abdominal muscles strong can help you get in and out of bed when you need to use the bathroom or take a shower, and a firm core might help you recover more quickly once you're allowed off bed rest.
Crunches are one of the easiest ab exercises to get started with, whether you're on a mat or a bed. Lie on your back and bend your knees at a 90-degree angle with your feet resting flat and parallel to your buttocks. Rest your hands behind your head or cross them over your chest, flex your abs, then lift your head and shoulders up as you exhale slowly. Inhale on the way down, and repeat for at least 20 repetitions. Start in the same position to work your lower abs, but extend the legs out straight. Keeping them steady, raise your legs until your toes point toward the ceiling, lower and repeat for at least 10 repetitions.
Sara Melone is a mother of three and a graduate of UNH. With prior careers in insurance and finance, photography, as well as certifications in fitness and nutrition, Melone draws directly from past experience and varying interests. She contributes with equal passion to birth journals, investment blogs, and self-help websites.