A 5-Minute Wake-Up Call for Your Whole Body

By , Dr. Thomas J. Kleeman, MD
Exercise isn’t just about burning calories and building strength. It’s also about improving productivity and quality of life. But when is the best time to exercise? The answer is whenever it best fits into your schedule. One problem with afternoon or evening workouts is that they are often put off by other conflicting responsibilities. In addition, if you exercise too late in the day, it can be hard to “wind down” and fall asleep.
Early morning can be a great time to get some exercise in as long as it doesn’t make you late for the rest of your day. As a spine surgeon I have to be “ready to go” with a high energy level by 6 a.m. This doesn’t leave time for a lengthy morning workout so we at MDFitness came up with a 5-minute workout that you can do right out of bed without disrupting your morning routine. In the time it takes to brew your coffee you can have your metabolism revved up to full throttle and ready for whatever the day throws at you.  It works for me and I know it will work for you. We use the same easy-to-follow exercises you will find in our DVD The Doctors Workout.
Here are some of the benefits you will see with this program:
  1. It’s the equivalent of adding an espresso shot to your coffee.
  2. You will jump-start your metabolism for at least an hour following the exercise.
  3. You will improve your productivity and mental function for several hours.
  4. You will have more energy and a feeling of happiness through the release of endorphins.
  5. You will help control your appetite during the rest of the day, promoting weight loss.
  6. You will sleep better.
  7. You will see a direct benefit to your heart health.
  8. You will be more consistent with your workout as you will have fewer scheduling conflicts.
Jog in Place (30 seconds)
We will begin with jogging in place. This is a great way to start our warm-up. While you are getting the cob-webs out of your head your arms and legs are starting to get more blood flowing. We are also lubricating all the major joints so they won’t stiffen up later.

You should feel your heart rate starting to come up and your breathing start to quicken. Keep your arms nice and relaxed and stay on the balls of your feet.

Cat Kicks (30 seconds)
Start by raising up one leg while rounding the back and reaching forward bringing the arms together. Now repeat the move on the other side. If you can touch your foot, that’s great. If not, just raise the leg as much as feels comfortable.

This exercise is dynamically stretching the hamstrings and back muscles at the same time. It is what we call a compound exercise that works several muscle groups at once.
High Knees (30 seconds)
We are going to rev things up now with high knees. This move will really get your heart pounding. If you are just starting to exercise do the move like a march rather than a hop.  As you progress you can start to bring the foot off the ground as you go from side to side.

Leg exercises like this are great for boosting the metabolism. The leg muscles are much bigger than the arm muscles so they generate more energy and heat.
Squats (30 seconds)
Next we will move on to leg squats with forward arm raise. With your feet hip-width apart and toes pointing forward, bend the hips and knees like you are sitting down while raising both arms up to shoulder height. In the beginning you may want to go part way down but as you advance you will be able to squat to a full 90 degrees. This is another super compound exercise that works the shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles all at the same time.
Jump Rope (30 seconds)
Pretend you have a jump rope in your hands and try to coordinate your arms and legs to mimic the motion you would use with the rope. Stay on the balls of your feet with the knees slightly bent. Beginners can start at a slower pace and speed up as they improve their strength and endurance. This is one of the best lower-impact cardio exercises, but you can increase the challenge and impact by moving into a bigger jump.
Lunges (30 seconds)
Begin by stepping forward with the right foot, then bending both knees while keeping your weight over the back knee. Come back up and alternate sides. Try not to touch the floor or mat with the back knee. As in all of these exercises, you can adapt the move to your fitness level or flexibility. Whether you go part way or all the way down your quads and hamstrings are still working hard. This will keep the heart rate up, too.
Skaters (30 seconds)
Like the name implies, we are hopping sideways back and forth from leg to leg while swinging the arms mimicking the motion of skating. Beginners should step from side to side while more advanced exercisers should hop or jump. The hips and knees should remain slightly bent. This keeps the muscles under tension and increases the value of the exercise. Muscle tone and balance are important benefits from skaters.
Bicycle Crunches (30 seconds)
Begin lying on your back with both hips and knees flexed 90 degrees. Keep your hands lightly on the sides of your head while lifting the head and shoulder blades slightly off the floor. Extend one leg out while bringing the opposite knee in toward your shoulder, twisting toward that knee with your upper body. Continuously alternate sides.

The bicycle crunch has been scientifically proven to be the best ab exercise there is!

Push-Ups (30 seconds)
Now roll over for everyone’s favorite exercise: push-ups. Beginners should keep the knees on the mat. Try to do between 12 and 15 repetitions if you can. As you can see, this exercise requires a fair amount of upper body strength. If you can’t do the full 15, just do as many as you can. If you can’t go all the way down then just go part way.

Remember, the exercises we hate the most often do us the most good!

Jumping Jacks (30 seconds)
Back on your feet for the final exercise, which needs no explanation as everyone has seen or done it at some time in his or her life.

It’s a fantastic compound exercise working the shoulders and hips. It targets the inner and out thigh muscles, which are hard to strengthen.

Congratulations! You have just Jump started your metabolism. As you start to cool down and get ready for you day, the health effects of the program will continue for hours. Remember, this should not prevent you from doing your regular exercise program. It is just an added bonus. Don’t forget to check out “The Doctors Workout" DVD for more ideas.

Starting a workout routine is always difficult. Staying with it is equally challenging. At MDFitness we firmly believe that there is a benefit to any exercise program no matter how short. Try this easy-to-follow 5-minute routine and you will feel amazing. As you start to see the fantastic results you may want to think about adding a longer workout to your schedule 3-4 times a week.
About the Author
Dr. Thomas J. Kleeman, MD, is nationally-renowned orthopedic surgeon and founder of the New Hampshire Neurospine Institute. With the help of his wife Anne, he has become dedicated to the use of exercise and good nutrition as a means of maintaining quality of life during the aging process.  Now 66, he is a cancer survivor who found the benefits of exercise instrumental in his own recovery.  Along with his wife Anne, a registered nurse and certified fitness professional, he has launched MDfitness: The Doctor's Workout on DVD—an easy to follow exercise program designed for people over 40.

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Another not a morning person but when the muscles are ready to work then the workouts can begin. After 40 yrs. on the night shift, it's sleepy time in the AM. Report
Not a morning person, either, but I do 7 min every morning before leaving the bedroom. Started with 5 and increased the time over the years -- aiming for 10 minutes --- hahahahaha! 8-) Did not know that it increases the heart rate, though. I've dumped all caffeine because I don't like that racing heart feeling. Report
thanks Report
Got such a wake up call with Fitness Blender HIIT Level 5 got half way through time to get dressed for work. Saved rest for this evening will doing walking & 2 10 minute cardio workouts at work... once I wake up that is. Ha! Report
This is a great article..................Thank You. Report
Thanks Report
Thank you Report
A lot of these are my get moving exercises throughout the day but if it will jumpstart my metabolism I will add them to my morning. Thanks Report
That looks great but what can I substitute lunges for? I have stuffed knee cap, I can sub push ups to wall push-ups but don't know of a lunge sub Report
Great workout! Report
Keeping this set. Report
I'm subbing in Pre-K this year because of a serious injury of the regular teacher. You know we are doing almost all of these exercises, in the songs. We do 5 minute brain breaks. Report
thanks Report
I'm going to try the seated jumping jacks! Report
I do seated jumping jacks. Report
Love this morning routine! Report
This is a great way to start your day! Report
Thank You for all of the great exercises........... Report
Using count-up timer, I do them for longer (up to 10 minutes total) & I change the order to end with the skater; I do low-impact jumping jacks as #5, alternating w/ floor duo, and I substitute plank for push-ups due to elbow pain. I also alternate forward lunges with reverse lunges. But I enjoy the workout! Report
This is a great way to start your day! Report
CAT KICKS? Isn't that a nasty name for an exercise Report
Thanks! Report
Good article and modifications appreciated. Report
This is a great routine for the morning, and this workout will not get repetitive or boring. Report
Enjoy my morning workouts, it sets the tone for my whole day. Report
fun work out you can do with out the DVD Report
great workout Report
I like these but wish they were in a video format so I didn't have to restart the timer for each exercise. Report
I can do this! Report
Looks like a good way to spend a few minutes a day! Report
I like that the articles, exercise routines, etc are retained on site for longer periods of time. Some us are newer to SP and some also want to go back to review/refresh our memories later. For those you who have already seen an article and don't want to do it again, don't; there always plenty of new blogs to maintain your interest. Report
I need to try this!! Report
I thought this sounded a bit too familiar - I've only been on site for 2 months - and in reading the comments it is. Spark People please rotate the articles periodically. Report
Like the compactness but am physically unable to do any of the exercises. Even if I did it 5 minutes is not enough to raise my heart rate - resting HR is 32 and it IS normal for me. B/P is very low "normal" also. Good alternative for us with injuries and condition (like balance) is a mini-peddler. Use it to simulate a bike without worrying about falls and use it on your arms to increase Range of Motion. Report
Should try this but why is there no option to print the page(s)? Much simpler to grab a page or 2 in the morning than boot up the computer. Report
Amazing and fast. Than You Report
I have to modify. I have bad knees, but I can still do this with energy. Report
I just did the low impact version and worked up a sweat! That certainly gets your heart pumping.

Modified jumping jacks - one arm and leg out to the side, bring it back to middle, then the other side. Marching instead of jogging. Bouncy march instead of jumping rope. Report
If you do the workout as-is, I would log it as high impact aerobics. If you modify the workout, I would log it as low impact aerobics. If you REALLY modify it to slow stretches, I would log it as yoga/general stretching.

If you can't do the workouts you can always modify them. I can't start out with jogging, especially not right out of bed, so I'll do marching in place either before or instead of the jog. Report
Will give this a try. Appreciate those who have provided their modifications for those with bad knees! Report
You had me at espresso shot! Report
Love this - have bad knees so will do the pushups against a wall and the bike on a chair. Getting off the floor was painful. But enjoyed the rest! Report
I love this! It's quick and easy and really does energize me. I modify the jogging and jumping jacks to make it low-impact because of my knees, but it's still awesome. Report
I have spine disease. and many fusions. I wish there was one I could do. I must lose weight. yoga so far has been good. Report
I love this, I use the list and repeat 6-7 times for a full aerobic workout without going outside in the cold. Also, I don't do it first thing in the morning.. and there are cheats for the exercises I can't fully do, like jumping jacks. But I am still sweating at the end and need a cool down! Report
I'm looking forward to adding this workout to my routine. Thanks Report
I will give this a try with a few modifications :-) Report
This is a fun exercise routine. I tell the ladies that the bicycle is best ab exercise there is, so it great to see I am not the only one saying that. Yay! Report