While exercise studies have shown that vigorous exercise in the morning can compromise the immune system, gentle activity helps to wake up the brain and body, mobilising joints, activating the postural muscles and raising body temperature and heart rate.
This exercise workout sequence will take you just a few minutes - perform it on waking to start your day feeling energised.
1. Before you even get out of bed, take a few deep breaths and have a stretch, right from the tips of the fingers to the toes.
2. Now draw your knees into your chest and hug them. Drop your knees down to the left-hand side, taking your head over to the right; take a breath here, and as you exhale, bring the knees back through center and drop them to the right, taking the head to the left.
3. Swing your legs off the bed and with feet hip distance apart and flat on the floor, drape your torso over your thighs, allowing arms to drop to the floor. Hang here for a moment then grasp your lower legs with your hands and pull up, so that you are rounding your back, and stretching through the shoulders. Release and roll back up to an upright position. Now link your hands together behind your back and straighten them, feeling a stretch across the chest and front of the shoulders. Hold for a moment and then release.
4. Next, stand up and with feet below hips, begin to swing your arms around your body (left arm goes behind left hip while right arm crosses over the body, then reverse), allowing the torso and hips to rotate from side-to-side but keeping the tummy engaged. Let the head follow the movement, and keep it relaxed and rhythmical. Count to 30 while you do this.
5. Now link your hands together and lift them overhead, with palms facing down. Keeping your tummy engaged and hips centred, drop your torso to the side, take a breath and then as you exhale, come back through center and drop to the other side.
6. Next, grab your pillow and place it between your thighs, just above the knees. With weight evenly dispersed between heel and forefoot, bend the legs into a half-squat, squeezing the cushion and pressing the buttocks together. Pause for a couple of seconds, then stand up, rising up on to the balls of the feet, before lowering into the next repetition. Do this 10 times, squeezing the cushion throughout - you may feel a bit silly but this great exercise to wake up the large muscles in the legs and buttocks.
7. Still standing tall, let your knees slightly bend and drop your arms by your sides. Take a breath and as you exhale, draw the chin to the chest and begin to roll forwards through the neck vertebrae, the upper back, the mid back and finally the lower back, until your head and arms are hanging down by your feet. Pause to take a breath and as you exhale, ‘rebuild’ the spine by rolling back up to a standing position. Imagine the spine is like a wheel turning. Do this three times, but on the last one, when you roll down, go all the way to the floor, bending the knees and taking your hands to the floor.
8. Walk your hands out until you are lying flat on the floor, face down. You can rest your forehead on your hands. Keeping your hipbones pressing down into the floor, bring each foot alternately into the bottom and out straight again. Do this rhythmically, counting to 30.
9. Next, push yourself back onto your hands and knees, so that you are on all fours, hands under shoulders, knees under hips. Gently pull in the tummy and round the back up, allowing the head to drop. Pause, then arch the back - lengthening it out as much as you can - and lifting the head. Repeat this three times and then rock back to your feet and keeping knees slightly bent, roll back up to standing.
10. Give your shoulders a roll, shake out your arms and legs and go jump in the shower!
Although you can’t really class this as a full-on workout, it’s a great way to start the day and prepare your body. So instead of taking a few minutes for that extra cup of coffee to give you the boost - energise with a bit of exercise! Try it tomorrow and see if it makes a difference to you and your day.