Half hour to happiness: Exercises to improve your mood

We’ve all heard about the therapeutic effects of exercise – but how exactly can working out change your mood, and what kind of session gives you the best boost?

RUNNER’S high, the happy hormone… however you refer to it, it’s well known that getting a sweat on can give you a real lift.

From its ability to clear your mind, allowing your body to de-stress, to boosting the level of endorphins in your brain, taking up exercise – whether it’s yoga, running or boxing – is a no-brainer if you’re looking for a new way to get happy.

But a new study from Cognition and Emotion has revealed that the emotional effects of aerobic exercise, in particular, can be extremely helpful to stabilise a good mood.

And there’s even better news: you only need 30 minutes of it to make a significant impact.

There’s no need to go hell for leather or attempt weights that are too challenging – simply try this resistance workout at a similar intensity to an aerobic jog.

HOW TO DO IT: Perform a minute of each exercise at a low to medium intensity, taking any necessary short breaks between each move. Repeat the whole circuit twice more

KIT YOU’LL NEED: 2x dumbbells

SQUAT

Areas trained: GLUTES, QUADS

Technique: With feet shoulder-width apart and toes only slightly turned out, bend at your knees and hips to lower your bottom out behind you as low as possible, keeping your heels planted.

Push up through your heels back to the start and repeat.

SAFETY TIP: Keep your knees tracking over your toes as you lower

INCHWORM

Areas trained: CORE, SHOULDERS, STOMACH

Technique: Start standing up straight, then place your hands flat on the floor as close to your feet as possible, bending your knees if necessary.

Walk your hands forwards until you’ve reached a straight-arm plank position.

Walk them back to the start to stand up straight and repeat

SAFETY TIP: Keep your spine and neck long — don’t let your head drop out of line

BICYCLE CRUNCH

Areas trained: STOMACH, SIDES

Technique: Lie on your back with your hands by your temples.

Crunch your shoulders off the floor and twist your right elbow across your body by rotating your torso as you bring your left knee to meet it, right leg extended and hovering just above the floor.

Twist the opposite way, bringing your left elbow to the right knee and extending your left leg.

Repeat fluidly without allowing your upper back or legs to rest on the floor for the entire set.

SAFETY TIP: Keep your neck long – engaged but relaxed

PRESS-UP ROTATION

Areas trained: CHEST, TRICEPS, CORE, SIDES

Technique: Start in plank position on your hands.

Bend your arms to lower your chest to the floor, keeping your body in a straight line throughout.

Push back up to the start, reach your right hand up to the ceiling, rotating your torso with you. Alternate sides with each rep.

SAFETY TIP: Don’t allow your lower back to overarch at any point

WALKING LUNGE

Areas trained:

GLUTES, QUADS, HAMSTRINGS, CORE

Technique: Take a large step forwards, bending both knees to about 90 degrees with your back knee just above the floor. 

Extend your legs to take another step forward straight into another rep.

SAFETY TIP: Keep your hips square and torso upright throughout

FARMER’S WALK

Areas trained: GLUTES, QUADS, HAMSTRINGS, CALVES, UPPER BACK

Technique: Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand and walk for around 200m as fast as you can without stopping.

SAFETY TIP: Keep a strong, tall posture throughout.



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