5-Minute Gentle Morning Routine

After sleeping all night, it’s a great idea to start your day with some gentle range of motion exercises/stretches to get your blood flowing, wake up your muscles, lubricate your joints and warm your connective tissue.

Try the following 5-minute sequence in the morning and make note of how your body feels before and after:

Opposite Arm and Leg Extension

Start by getting down onto your hands and knees.

Position your arms directly under your shoulders and your knees directly underneath your hips.

Keep your abdominals contracted and your spine completely stabilized. Your back should be completely neutral and it should feel like a straight line from your tailbone to the top of your head.

Start the exercise by lifting one arm from the shoulder and reaching it out in front of you while simultaneously stretching the opposite leg behind you.

You should attempt to stretch the arm forwards to the wall in front of you and the leg backwards to the wall behind you versus lifting towards the ceiling.

Maintain the abdominal contraction and spine stabilization without tilting side to side during the entire set.  

Return to the starting position and then repeat on the other arm and leg.  

Remember the key reference points for this exercise are that you must keep the abdominals contracted and the back should be completely stabilized.  

Try to avoid arching your back as you lift the arms and/or legs – think more about reaching the arms and legs rather than lifting so high that you arch your back.

Repeat for 1 minute alternating sides and then transition into Child’s pose to stretch and release. 


Start on your hands and knees with your arms directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.

Slowly transition into Cow pose by lifting your chin and looking up while simultaneously tilting your tailbone towards the sky.

Now slowly reverse the movement transitioning into Cat pose by rounding your back, dropping your chin towards your chest and tilting your tailbone towards the floor.

Keep your abdominals active throughout the entire range of motion to support and protect your low back.

Remember, to move slowly and breathe into each phase of the movement.

Continue for 1 minute and then transition into Child’s pose to stretch and release.  


Start by lying on your stomach on the floor with your feet wider than your hips and your abdominals contracted to protect your low back.

Place your hands shoulder width apart with fingers pointing forward.

Now, slowly extend your arms, peeling your body away from the mat, lifting the chest up and rolling your shoulders back. Feel free to keep your elbows more bent to minimize the extension in your spine.

Listen to your body and protect your low back.

Hold the stretch for one breath and then transition back into child’s pose.

Hold for 1 breath.

Slowly move back and forth from Cobra to Child’s pose for 1 minute. 

Child’s Pose

Start on your hands and knees then move your hips backwards towards your heels as your reach your arms forward.

Let your hands and head rest into your mat. Feel free to have your knees wider than your hips and allow your torso to rest between your thighs.

Relax and sink into the stretch.

This is a recovery pose, so transition into this movement in between each of the exercises above and partner it with Cobra. 

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at nwpersonaltraining.com.

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