If you can't quite seem to find the motivation to go for a run on these chilly winter mornings you're not alone. Losing interest in fitness during winter is common, though sadly it then becomes a sort of cycle. You snooze longer and oversleeping can make you more lethargic, which makes it even harder to get back on the proverbial exercise wagon.
That's where stretching can come in. Sure, it's not a 5km jog or an F45 class, but spending 10 minutes stretching when you first get out of bed offers its own benefits.
"Stretching makes you feel better instantly. It allows for full mobility and range, helping you develop muscle structure and helping the muscles function efficiently and correctly," Renee Scott, former professional ballerina and founder of Barre Attack told HuffPost Australia.
"By lengthening the tight muscles we can realign our body to function as efficiently as possibly, allowing us to go about our daily life feeling more energised."
In fact, improved circulation from stretching has been proven to increase blood flow to the muscles and also to the brain, both resulting in the feeling of more energy. It's also a handy way to shake off any stiffness from sleep. Even better, you can do it in your pajamas in front of the heater.
As for how hard to stretching and what it should feel like, stretching should not be painful.
"You should never feel any sharp pain while stretching. It should never hurt. Some helpful tips to ensure you're stretching right is to make sure you are not holding your breath, and aligning the body efficiently whilst doing the stretch so you are not staining other parts of the body," Scott said.
Scott suggests trying these popular stretches to wake the body up.
"Lay on the floor, legs hip width apart with your knees bent and parallel. Then slowly articulate up through the spine, lifting off the floor and by pressing the hips toward the ceiling, and then slowly peeling back down rolling through each vertebrae on the way down. This will bring body awareness, pelvic stability and help with any stiffness in the back."
Knees from side to side
"Again, laying on your back, reach the arms out inline with the shoulders, keeping the shoulders open. With legs in tabletop, allow the knees to roll over to the floor, gently connecting through the core, then bring the knees back to centre and then over to the other side.This will open up through the lower back and chest as well as bringing core awareness. Also great for digestion," Scott said.
Plank on elbows
"Lengthen out onto a long plank position so you are parallel to the floor. Engage the stomach so you feel like you have an internal corset on, concentrate on long deep breaths and feel the abdominal connection. This stretch is great for body awareness and core stability."
Stretching can also be useful later in the day, particularly if you're sedentary or have a desk job. Instead of reaching for a 3pm caffeine hit, try some energising stretches first.
"Most people are sitting at a desk for long periods of time. Due to sitting, the front of their hips are usually really tight and their upper backs become quite rounded due to bad posture whilst working at a computer. Stretching these two muscle groups are a great area to start on. Also getting up every half an hour to have a quick walk around is a great way to stay healthy at the office. Drinking a lot of water will not only keep you hydrated but also get you up to go to the bathroom!" Scott said.
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