Get moving and feel good
Doing things to feel well and good is always important. But right now, after a year that has been, shall we say, unique, it’s a particularly hot topic. We asked fitness expert Matt Kay to share his top tips on how to nourish both mind and body; for a happier and healthier 2021 (including his best 15-minute workout).
A healthy mind
Dealing with numerous lockdowns and countless restrictions is no piece of cake, and it has (unsurprisingly) left a lot of people struggling with their mental health. The impact of regular exercise on mental wellbeing is well-known; basically a cocktail of happy hormones to help with anything from anxiety to sleep. So, if you’ve got yourself a case of pandemic blues, remember these five key things to help you get (and stay) active.
A little goes a long way
All kinds of activity are great, including everyday tasks such as mowing the lawn and doing housework. And although we’re in another lockdown, you can still go on a walk with your household or do some gardening. Any activity that raises your heartbeat counts.
Make exercise part of you, not all of you
It turns out that when it comes to exercise, you can actually get too much of a good thing, and it’s important to strike a balance between your new regime and other areas of your life. The study found that people who worked out for more than 90 minutes at a time on average suffered more ‘bad days’ than those who exercised for 30–60 minutes, three to five times per week – which is believed to be the optimum amount. Make exercise part of your life, but don’t let it take over.
Get (virtually) social
Dr Adam Chekroud of Yale University, says that “social activities promote and reduce depression.” In light of the new lockdown, try doing a virtual workout together over Zoom or Facetime. Take a look at the ‘how to exercise in 15 mins’ section further down in this post.
Find something you enjoy
Above all else, the best exercise for you is the one you like doing. Let’s face it, if you choose an activity purely because you know it is good for you, there’s less chance you’ll stick to it long-term. So, find something you connect with. If the past year has taught us one thing, it’s the value of a quick online search, and there’s a whole ocean of virtual classes you can do at home.
How to exercise in 15 minutes
15-minute workouts are super-efficient and require next to no equipment. And because they’re so quick, you’re more likely to keep it up and exercise regularly, says Matt Kay. Well, we can’t argue with that. If you’re unsure about any of the moves, simply take a look at the image that corresponds to the exercise for some guidance. Remember to consult a doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.
- Start the warm-up slowly and be mindful of how your body feels as you move your joints through progressively larger ranges.
- The main set is split into two phases; strength and cardio. Slow and controlled is the name of the game for the strength phase. The cardio phase is about speed and intensity so make sure you give it your all.
- For the core finisher, concentrate on keeping your lower back in a neutral position (in between arched and flat), brace your core muscles and pull your tummy in. If you find yourself losing form, slow down and reposition your body before going again.
(Repeat sets twice, takes 3 minutes)
- 10 arm rotations forward, 10 arm rotations backward
- 10 alternating lunges
- 10 mackenzie stretches (lie down on your stomach and prop yourself up on your forearms, moving your upper body up and down)
(Takes 9 minutes)
Set 1: Strength (x2)
4. 60 seconds slow squats (aim for 10–12 repetitions)
5. 60 seconds (aim for 10–12 repetitions)
Set 2: Cardio (x2)
6. 60 seconds running on the spot with high knees
7. 60 seconds jumping jacks
30 seconds rest
(Repeat sets twice, takes 3 minutes)
8. 60 seconds leg raise
9. 60 seconds plank
Keep this workout handy by downloading a pdf directly to your device.