Four Simple Exercises When You Have 30 Minutes

From strength movements first thing to relaxing stretches at night, our movement and Sleep Recovery expert Lisa Sanfilippo tells all...

Four Simple Exercises When You Have 30 Minutes

How much exercise should we do per day? “Studies have shown that about two and a half hours a week of exercise is a minimum essential for good health,” says Lisa Sanfilippo, psychotherapist and London-based yoga teacher. “If you schedule it into your week in advance, it’s your assurance of good sleep and long-term physical and mental health.” Even just thirty minutes a day, five days a week will see you reaping the benefits of exercise. Still struggling to find the time? Split your movement time into two to three 10 -15 minute mini sessions instead. Lisa recommends four easy routines that fit into a busy day.

1. Daytime power stretches and energising breath

Breathing exercises provide the foundation for better health. “In the morning, long, deep in-breaths paired with simple supported forward bends get circulation moving, and also flush your face for a fresh look and feel,” Lisa says. No need for the gym – try a wall arm stretch or wall downward dog press. “It helps to open your chest, torso and shoulders and gets you breathing more fully and deeply, creating a clearer and more focused mind.”

2. Strength moves for a clear mind

“Stimulating the muscles will energise you and gets you moving, especially if you feel lethargic or brain-fogged,” says Lisa. Strength poses like the ‘invisible chair’ against the wall and squats push blood flow into your legs, as well as strengthening and toning. Pair with arm pumps for a full body benefit. “Add in some simple abdominal and glute squeezes into the movement, and you’ll feel clearer, more centred and more empowered to start your day.”

3. Walk mindfully

While a daytime run or workout may be your cup of tea, according to Lisa being energised during the day doesn’t always mean doing something strenuous. “A walk outside in fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for your mind set. Or a stretch and a simple meditation can help you to reset and recharge on a deeper level. Close your eyes, sit with your body supported, and pay attention to the rhythm of your natural breath as it moves in and out.” Taking attention inwards, says Lisa, “moves us away from the constant flow of external stimulation and information and dissipates stress hormones, enabling us to digest our thoughts and emotions to get mentally clearer and more centred.”

4. Bedtime stretch-and-breath

“I’ll often smooth some NEOM Magnesium Body Butter on the soles of my feet and let that sink in while doing a few stretches in bed,” Lisa says. “This makes all the difference to my ability to get to sleep and stay asleep.”

She recommends lying-down leg stretches or a side-lying twist from the simple sleep sequence in her book Sleep Recovery. “These really work, when done along with the essential long smooth exhales, to slow your heart rate and mind. The stretch receptors in your ribcage signal a sense of release that enables deeper rest.”

A quick word on Pranayama for sleep

Pranayama or yoga breath promotes deep relaxation. “I love the effects of slower, longer-exhale breathing with a little pause at the end,” says Lisa. “One yoga technique to add is to gently block the right nostril with the thumb and exhale in and out of the left nostril. This sounds strange to the uninitiated, but it moves us into the relaxation response by slowing the heart rate. Try it!”

Credit: Lisa Sanfilippo is a psychotherapist in private practice in London, senior yoga teacher, author and of Sleep Recovery. Buy your copy here.