While you might not feel like it, exercise is a great way to wake yourself up in the morning. In fact, if you tend to feel sluggish when your alarm goes off, you’re likely to find it all the more effective – you just need to find the motivation to do it!

Of course, most of us don’t have time to spend long on exercising first thing in the morning. These quick, light exercises don’t take long, but will get your day off to a great start by combining stretching, cardio and some light strength exercises. If you find they don’t all suit you, mix and match those you like most.


Generally speaking, it isn’t a good idea to do vigorous exercises as soon as you wake up – your body just won’t be ready for it. So, it’s best to begin with some gentle stretches, which set your body up for the day. In fact, if you’re unused to exercise or want to ease yourself into your morning routine gradually, you can devote your whole quick routine to stretching – daily stretching helps to prevent aches and pains caused by repetitive motions and tension.

The first thing to remember is to stretch gently – you don’t want to overtax your muscles, which can result in an injury. Then, select some light stretches that suit a body that’s been still all night. Good ones include:

  • Knees to chest: You can do this one in bed. Lie on your back, then bring one knee to your chest while keeping the other leg straight. Take a few deep, relaxing breaths before lowering your knee, and repeating the exercise on your other leg.
  • Full-body stretch: This stretch feels great in the morning. Lie flat on the floor, face up, and lift your arms over your head (so they too are flat on the floor). Gently stretch out with your arms and at the same time downwards with your legs, drawing your tummy muscles in as you do so.
  • Knee rolls: Lying on your back with your legs bent and feet firmly planted on the floor, and with your arms to your sides for stability, slowly roll your knees to one side. Keep your shoulders in contact with the floor. Take some deep breaths, and then roll your knees to the other side.
  • Touch your toes: This simple stretch is great for the lower back. From standing, slowly lean down and touch your toes; bend your knees slightly at you come back up to avoid overtaxing your back.


Simple cardio is best for a quick energising boost first thing in the morning. Once you’ve done your stretches, spend a few minutes switching between different cardio exercises. You could, for example, start with one minute of star jumps, followed by a minute of power walking on the spot (to do this, lift your feet so that your ankles tap your bum, and pump your arms while they’re bent at the elbow). Jogging on the spot is another good choice for getting the blood pumping and helping you feel more awake.


Round off your quick routine with some simple strength exercises, such as pushups or pressups, which will help tone your muscles over time. If you’re new to pushups, try doing several very brief sets of repetitions, rather than aiming for as many pushups as you can do in one go. For instance, try two sets of five as opposed to ten at once. You can then increase the numbers gradually over time.

To work your legs and glutes, lunges and squats are excellent choices that will help raise your heart rate while toning. Take care of your core, meanwhile, with a few repetitions of stomach crunches.