You’re reading Move, the nudge we need to get active, however makes us happiest and healthiest.
If you find your concentration waning post-3pm, you’re certainly not alone. The afternoon slump is a real challenge for the morning larks among us, who do our best work before lunchtime – and are next to useless by 5pm.
But it is possible to recharge in the afternoon, says Dean Hodgkin, a personal trainer and head of programming at community wellness and fitness app, Truconnect by TV.FIT.
“The possible reasons for your slide towards slumber include varying hormone levels, the after-effect of lunch having caused a spike in your blood sugar level or quite simply, you’re not getting enough sleep at night,” he explains.
“Whatever, the cause, a short burst of exercise is proven to fire up your mojo and boost your energy levels.”
Exercise can stimulate the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine and also endorphin hormones, both of which can significantly lift your mood, adds Hodgkin. Additionally, exercise causes oxygen saturation in the brain, improving mental processes such as attention spans, planning and memory.
The optimum recipe for beating the afternoon slump is a combination of cardio, strength and flexibility moves, says Hodgkin. He’s provided HuffPost UK with a quick five-minute workout that includes all three.
Stand with feet shoulder width apart, trunk flexed forward slightly with back in a neutral position. Arms should be in the ready position with elbows flexed at approximately 90˚.
Lower your body to a point where your thighs are parallel to the floor and immediately explode upwards vertically and drive your arms up.
Do not hold a squat position before jumping up, keep the time between dipping down and jumping up to minimum.
Land softly on both feet, with your weight evenly distributed.
Target is 60 seconds.
Stand close to a step or a box with one foot resting lightly on top, but just the ball of your foot rather than heel.
In one movement scissor your feet so they swap over, but try not to jump up in the air and make sure your landings are soft and quiet.
Use your arms to help generate speed and keep your head lifted, only gazing down occasionally to check your foot position. Aim for a challenging rhythmical pace.
Target is 60 seconds.
Incline press up
Stand a stride away from a desk, chair or sturdy bannister rail, with both hands on it.
On a slant, aim for a straight line from your heels through your hips to the top of your head.
Bend both arms and point your elbows out to the side to lower your chest as far as is comfortable.
Now press through the palm heels to straighten your arms and return to the start position.
Keep your elbows soft at the top rather than locking out your elbows.
Target is 12 repetitions.
Stand with your back pressing into a wall and your feet hip width apart, with the toes pointing directly forwards or just slightly out at an angle.
Now slowly lower down by bending the knees, you should be able to descend lower than you would on a free-standing squat.
Concentrate on keeping your abdominals pulled in tight to protect your lower spine and ensure your knees point in the same direction as your toes.
Remain in this position, pressing hard into your heels.
Target is 30 seconds.
Whilst seated, place one foot onto the other thigh, both knees at a 90-degree angle.
Keeping a long neck and shoulders relaxed, with both sitting bones in contact with the chair, take your chest forwards towards the lifted leg until you feel a stretch in your hip and lower spine.
Hold for three deep breaths, then release the stretch. Repeat two more times, then swap to perform three repetitions on the other side.
Stand half a stride away from a desk, chair or sturdy bannister rail, with both hands on it.
Keeping the arms straight, lean your hips forwards, opening the chest as you do so and raising your face to the ceiling, lengthening your spine.
Keep the abs lightly engaged to prevent the lower back from sinking.
Hold the position for three deep breaths then release. Repeat two more times.
Move celebrates exercise in all its forms, with accessible features encouraging you to add movement into your day – because it’s not just good for the body, but the mind, too. We get it: workouts can be a bit of a slog, but there are ways you can move more without dreading it. Whether you love hikes, bike rides, YouTube workouts or hula hoop routines, exercise should be something to enjoy.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.