After a long day at work, the couch starts calling your name. Sweatpants, Ben & Jerry’s and a nice glass of wine sounds a whole lot better than a drive to the gym.
But, before you grab a glass and get settled in, take heart in the knowledge that a quick at-home workout can boost your mood and relieve your post-work stress. That glass of wine will be waiting for you once your workout’s finished.
The perfect stress-relieving workout
If you automatically think “yoga” when you hear “stress-relieving workout,” you’re only partly right. Even though yoga is an excellent way to open your mind and calm your nerves, a moderate- to high-intensity routine can actually be just as effective… and it burns more calories, too. This 30-minute post-work routine combines the best of both worlds — a high-intensity cardio circuit combined with a modified sun salutation. Perform the 10-minute circuit three times through.
- 60 seconds jumping jacks
- 60 seconds backward lunge to knee, left side
- 60 seconds backward lunge to knee, right side
- 60 seconds low squat alternating jabs
- 60 seconds rotational lunge with upper cut
- 60 seconds half burpee
- 3 minutes modified sun salutations
- 60 seconds rest
Just like you did in elementary school: Start in a standing position, knees slightly bent, arms at your sides. Hop both legs out laterally to the side as you swing your arms up over your head.
Perform for 60 seconds.
Backward lunge to knee, left and right sides
Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, your arms at your sides, your knees slightly bent. Step your left leg behind you two to three feet, planting the ball of your left foot on the floor. Bend both knees, and while keeping your torso straight and tall, lower your left knee down toward the floor. Make sure your right knee doesn’t extend in front of your right toes. As you lunge down, raise your arms up over your head. In a single movement, tighten your core and drive your left knee up as you pull your elbows down into your sides.
Perform on the left side for a full minute before switching sides.
Low squat with alternating jabs
With your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart, stand with your knees slightly bent, your arms fisted — as if you were about to get into a fight. Press your hips back and bend your knees as you lower yourself into a deep lunge, keeping your weight in your heels. While maintaining the low lunge position, tighten your core and your arms and jab across your body, alternating sides.
Continue for a full minute.
Rotational lunge with upper cut
Widen your stance to a wide lunge — legs wider than shoulder-distance apart, your toes angled farther out to the sides. Tuck your tailbone under and tighten your core. Hold your hands in a fisted position in front of your body, as if you were about to get into a fight. Bend both knees and lower yourself into a squat. From this position, come up on the ball of your left foot and rotate your left knee in and down as you twist your torso to the right, moving into a lunge position. As you rotate your left knee in, simultaneously punch your left arm down and up across your body in an upper cut motion. Immediately return to center, maintaining the low squat position and repeat on the other side.
Continue rotating side-to-side for the full minute.
Start on the ground in a full plank position — your arms extended, your palms directly under your shoulders and the balls of your feet in contact with the ground. Your body should form a straight line from heels to head. In a single movement, hop both legs up toward your hands, but wider than your hands, so that your body ends in a deep squat position. If this is too difficult, modify the movement by stepping your left foot up and outside your left hand, followed by your right foot. Once you’re in the deep squat position, your palms still flat on the floor, hop or step your legs back out to the full plank.
Continue jumping or stepping your legs back and forth for the full minute.
Modified sun salutation
Start standing, your feet hip-distance apart, knees slightly bent, core tight. Raise your arms up over your head and try to stretch your body as tall as possible. Hold the position for 10 seconds, breathing steadily.
In an even motion, sweep your arms out to the sides (like a swan dive), maintaining a straight spine and a tight core as you bend forward toward the floor.
Release your hands to the floor and hang your head loose in a full forward bend. It’s OK if your hands don’t touch down. Hang for 10 seconds.
Lower your palms to the floor, bending your knees as needed, then step your feet back to a full plank position. Hold for 10 seconds.
Carefully bend your elbows and lower yourself to the floor in a steady fashion.
Untuck your toes (so the tops of your feet are flat on the ground), place your palms flat on the ground under your shoulders and tighten your core. Press through your palms and lift your shoulders and chest up off the floor as you look toward the ceiling. Only press up as far as you feel comfortable, and avoid “collapsing” into your shoulders — if you need to, roll your shoulders back and consciously pull them down, away from your ears. Hold for 10 seconds.
Return your chest to the floor, re-tuck your toes so the balls of your feet are on the floor, press through your palms and return to a plank position — but this time continue pressing your hips up toward the ceiling until your body forms an inverted “V” in a Downward Dog position. Release your head so it hangs loose, and hold for 10 seconds.
Steadily begin “pedaling” your legs, bending one knee, then the other, to work out your calves as you “walk the dog.” Do this for approximately 10 seconds.
Return to a plank position, then step your right leg in between your palms in a low lunge. Tighten your core, and in a smooth movement, use your abs to pull your torso up as you sweep your arms toward the ceiling, maintaining a low lunge position. Hold for 10 seconds.
Reverse the movement and return to full plank, then repeat the low lunge to the left side, holding the position for 10 seconds.
Return to plank, then lower your knees to the floor. With your knees beneath your hips and your palms beneath your shoulders, take a deep breath in as you look up toward the ceiling and allow your back to sway into Cow position. Hold for a second, then release the breath as you lower your head, allowing it to hang between your arms as you expand your back up toward the ceiling into the Cat position. Hold for a second, then move back to Cow. Continue moving between the two exercises for about 10 seconds.
Aim to complete the full modified sun salutation two times through during your three-minute yoga break.
Rest for one minute, then repeat the full circuit two more times.