We’ve all heard the mantra ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ but how many of us have really taken note? It’s hard to avoid the stresses of day-to-day life and we often turn to exercise as a release from this, but it’s not always about the pumping HIIT class, the morning sprints, the contact sport or the intense PT session.
Sometimes we just need to slow it all down. Easier said than done, (we know!) but we ask a lot of our bodies and it’s important to take a step back sometimes to find a healthy balance of exercise, rest and reflection to achieve a balanced state.
Top Tips to Exercise Body and Mind
Channel Your Inner Yogi
Yoga is probably best known for its flexibility benefits, but it can also help you sleep better, decrease anxiety, boost memory and improve concentration. All you need is a yoga mat and you’re good to go. Look for a local class or if you prefer the comfort of your own home, try a DVD or watch some of the fantastic YouTube videos out there, for beginners through to experienced yogi’s.
Make Time for ‘Mindfulness’
‘Mindfulness’ has become an overused buzzword. But what does it really mean? It’s all about living in the moment, and paying attention to what is happening now, instead of getting caught up in the rush of activities or thoughts. Taking time to step away from our daily ‘autopilot’ and having more insight. Try using these simple mindfulness exercises from Pocket Mindfulness to find some much needed calm.
Meet You at the Barre?
You’ll recognise barre work from ballet warm ups but it’s a fantastic exercise in itself and boutique studios offering this form or workout are popping up across the country. It’s designed to tone, lengthen and strengthen the muscles but the smaller movements can also bring a new level of awareness to the body that you don’t get in regular core workouts, whilst also strengthening the neuromuscular (mind-body) connections.
Running Yourself to Relaxation
We’re not talking about sprints, setting PB’s or gruelling hill training here. We’re talking about you, the route and your favourite playlist. That’s it. Run solo, so you’re not needing to match someone else’s pace and use this time to problem solve, make decisions and have some deserved ‘me’ time. If you’d rather run without earphones, go for it!
You just need your breath and 10 minutes. Controlled breathing not only keeps your mind and body functioning at their best, it can also lower blood pressure, promote feelings of calm and help you relax and de-stress. There are many methods but for beginners, try Sama Vritti or ‘Equal Breathing’. All through the nose, inhale for a 4 count then exhale for a 4 count. As you advance, aim for 6-8 counts per breath. This works anytime, anyplace – but it is especially effective before bed and if you have trouble switching off in the evenings.