Benefits of yoga: Why you should add yoga into your everyday routine

We now live in a world where self-care, health and wellbeing are being prioritised, and actually, are actively encouraged – which is something that we haven’t seen until recent years. And one of the very best ways to practise self-care in our humble opinion is through yoga and meditation. Here, Victoria Cranmer, founder of health and wellbeing travel firm Mindful Escapes, shares her thoughts on the benefits of yoga and why yoga should be added to our everyday routine.

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There is a global increase in people battling burnout, and time is of the essence, therefore practising as little as 10 minutes of yoga as part of your daily routine can be a beneficial addition.

People have never been as busy as they are today. Whether it’s juggling work and business with family life or struggling to find the time to relax and unwind, people are continuing to battle the feeling of burnout.

Yoga enables and releases feelings of anxiety, stress, worry, self-doubt, fatigue and the feeling of burnout with each and every breath.

Much more than deep breathing and stretching, yoga is an act of healing – both physically and mentally.

benefits of yoga

Benefits of yoga

As a great source of healing, yoga has many benefits and can work to support everybody in an entirely unique and different way.

Whilst not medicinal, yoga is the ideal way to incorporate gentle movement to your day and improve mental and physical wellbeing.

Improves strength, balance and flexibility

The regular movements and breathing techniques of yoga can aid the improvement of your strength, balance and flexibility by increasing blood flow and warming up the muscles. As well as this, yoga can improve posture, which in turn, reduces back pain and enhances comfort.

Reduces aches and pains

For people with illnesses such as arthritis, or those that suffer from aches and pains, yoga makes for the perfect form of gentle exercise. The stretching and breathing of yoga eases pain and discomfort and is a great way to manage bodily aches and pains without medicinal intervention.

Reduces stress and benefits heart health

When practised regularly, yoga can help people to feel less stressed, thus reducing inflammation and contributing to a healthier heart.

benefits of yoga

Relaxes to aid sleep and boosts mood

With yoga comes a sense of calm and can therefore be a great way to end your day and wind down before going to bed. For a better night’s sleep, alter your exercises to encourage relaxation, but to kickstart your day, yoga can make for the perfect mood booster – simply select exercises that require a little more energy and that make you feel awake and raring to go.

The ultimate self-care tool

Yoga is the ideal way to take care of yourself. Whether it’s 10 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour – yoga can be practised in such a way that works around your day, providing you with some well-deserved ‘me time’ whilst supporting stress management and encouraging mindfulness.

Getting started

It’s important that people practise yoga in a way that suits them – after all, we all have entirely different needs.

Whilst you will receive maximum benefits from adding yoga to your everyday routine, some people prefer yoga retreats to fully immerse themselves and to create the ultimate experience.

A retreat can be the perfect way to prioritise yoga and its healing benefits in your busy life without any distractions from the outside world. For more information on yoga retreats and its benefits, visit: https://mindfulescapes.uk/

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8 key benefits of running to get you motivated

Running is something that’s easy to pick up but not always as easy to turn into a habit; even avid runners sometimes aren’t in the mood for it. Something we know to be very true from our own personal experience as big running fans! So, what should you remember about running to motivate you to keep moving forwards? Here are some key benefits of running to keep in mind to get you up, out and running….

8 key benefits of running

There’s a low entry barrier to becoming a runner 

In an article for Bustle, Rachel Tavel, a former college runner, advises: “Don’t sit around waiting for the moment when you feel like going for a run, because that moment may never come.” The trick, she insists, is to simply go running even when you feel drawn towards staying at home instead.

You can even easily run at home 

You could, for example, buy one of the folding treadmills available for purchase online. These treadmills are available as manual or motorised models — and sourcing one would enable you to fold it away during periods off minimal use to save on floor space. 

Running is good for your heart 

“Research has found that running on a regular basis can decrease the risk of dying due to cardiovascular disease by up to 30%,” RunBuddy head coach Ben Parker recently told Marie Claire.

Running has been credited with helping to not only reduce the risk of heart and circulatory diseases but also lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

benefits of running

Running bodes well for mental health, too 

“Running outside, in particular, can help with reducing the feelings of isolation and loneliness” associated with anxiety, depression, and chronic stress, says Parker.

This is another incentive to force yourself to run when you don’t fancy it. The mere act of running could make you inclined to continue with it!

Running can be a surprising source of companionship 

“The running community is packed full of supportive, like-minded individuals who all share a common goal: to enjoy running,” says Parker.

Indeed, there are various avenues through which running could help you to meet new people — from competitors at marathons to an entire Strava community there to provide support and advice. 

You can run for charitable fundraising purposes 

Many running races are held to raise money for charities, some of which even offer race training as a ‘thank you’ for fundraising.

As Verywell Fit explains: “Running for something bigger than yourself is a great way to stay motivated to keep training and make your races even more meaningful and fulfilling.” 

benefits of running

You can set specific goals 

If the prospect of exercising simply for the sake of exercising isn’t enough motivation for you, it could be a very different matter when it comes to the idea of setting new goals for you to chase.

Naturally, it would be sensible for you to keep your goals relatively modest if you are a novice runner — but, once you feel ready, you could start contemplating signing up for a 5K, 10k or half marathon.

Running can improve your self-esteem 

Imagine the confidence boost you could get from finally accomplishing a particular running-based goal you had previously set for yourself. Not only will the self-esteem boost aid your mental wellbeing, but could also have positive implications for other aspects of your life, like your career and relationships.

We hope these eight benefits of running have inspired you to get on your running shoes and go for a run. If you have any other running motivation to share why not leave it in a comment below!

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The importance of strength training in your 40s

You know it, and I know it. Once we hit our 40s, we just can’t be as carefree about our physical health, can we? Case in point – did you know – did you know that you can lose as much as 3% to 5% per decade in muscle mass once you hit 30. And now that we’re 40….well you can do the maths! Thankfully strength training in your 40s can be your best friend here. So why aren’t more of us doing it during this period of ageing?

The problem is, when we think of strength training, thanks to the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and co., we can feel a little intimidated by the concept of strength training. But given the above statistics, it’s time to kick those stereotypes to the curb and get with the programme. Because strength training in your 40s has never been so important.

But why? And how? Fret not friends, I had a little chat with former Olympian Greg Whyte OBE and Her Spirit app (your friendly coach in a pocket) and their Coach2Kilos challenge to give us the low down on everything you need to know about strength training in your 40s.

You can’t stop ageing, but you can slow it

Once you hit 40, you start becoming startlingly aware of the ageing process. But here’s the good news, strength training can actually help slow the ageing process. So how does this work?

According to Whyte, ‘One of the problems with aging is that we lose muscle mass. That is particularly facilitated by the menopause but can actually happen in both men and women. Women, in particular, have this changing hormonal environment, which leads to a reduction in muscle mass with ageing. To some extent, while there is an aesthetic element to that, it’s actually more around the functionality of strength that we lose with that loss of muscle mass. Ultimately, we lose power, and with that what we call our health-related quality of life and eventually the ability to perform activities of daily living, so things like carrying the shopping, doing the gardening, walking upstairs picking up grandchildren or children just become that little bit more difficult.’

You might be thinking this doesn’t apply to you right now, but like with anything in life, what you put in now – in your 40s – is going to feed into your golden years. So if you don’t want things to feel more difficult and less enjoyable as the years continue to roll on, essentially – now is the time to act.

Of course, there is also a vanity element here. Simply put, ‘we can use muscle to change body shape, and make us look better. And so because we look better, we feel better. It’s all of that it’s all runs into improving quality of life.’

The importance of strength training in your 40s

Newbie to strength training? Fret not!

You may be thinking you’ve never done one iota of strength training in your life. Well, strike that! Because we all have, even if it’s unknowingly. According to Whyte it’s just that we need to start viewing strength training differently.

‘It’s all about changing that image of what we believe strength training is. If you’re over 40, you’ll probably remember images of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gold’s Gym, Muscle Beach.

I think many of us have this image that strength training is about being a bodybuilder. Well, of course, actually, we do strength training on a daily basis. When we start out from a seated position when we stand up, that takes strength. When we walk upstairs, it takes strength. So all of those activities of daily living actually require strength.

The first thing to always think about is don’t just change your image of what strength actually is, and what strength training looks like. Strength training, in its very simplest form, is anything that resists motion, anything that increases the resistance to motion. So for example, instead of walking on the flat, if you walk up a hill, that could be deemed as being strength training, because there’s a resistance to move.

So it’s about just changing what you see as strength training. Remember that strength is very much part of everyday life. But then, much like it is when you want to improve your aerobic fitness – that we should walk more, and we should be more active – it’s exactly the same with strength, in that if we want to improve our strength, what we have to do is we have to dedicate some time to improving that strength.

Thinking about The World Health Organization guidelines for physical activity for health – which is the same as the Chief Medical Officer’s for the UK – we often talk about this 30 minutes of physical or aerobic activity on most days of the week, so that is at least 150 minutes a week. The advice also includes two dedicated strength sessions a week. So it really is about just making time in your weekly activities to do some dedicated specific strength work.

Putting strength training into practice

So now we all know that we should be doing (at least) two strength training sessions a week, how do we put that into practice? As someone who loves a bit of strength work, I know that it is surprisingly easier and more enjoyable than you might think and Whyte backs me up here:

‘Strength training can be literally anything. The Couch2Kilos challenge, for Her Spirit is just a great example of that. You can strength train at home, on your own in your front room. You don’t need expensive equipment, and you don’t have to wear spandex. There are lots of ways in which we can integrate strength exercise into our weekly activities, without actually really going out of our way.

Going to a gym and diving into the strength area can be quite intimidating. So getting that experience and confidence before you take that step is really very important and the Coach2Kilos program is a great place to start. If you’ve never done it before, or it’s been a long time since your last you can modify the exercises and then build progression based upon your experience and what your own personal strength is. The wonderful thing about training is that it’s very easy to track your progress. So it’s actually quite motivating and you can see things like change in posture, how you carry yourself, and therefore the aesthetic change also quite quickly.

The importance of strength training in your 40s


Getting started with strength training

So we’ve sold the idea of strength training to you, but nobody wants to get an injury so what are the do’s and don’t? Whyte says:


‘What’s always important with exercise in general, is making sure that you start at a level, which is commensurate with your own ability. Don’t start off too hard and more importantly, progress slowly because there is a risk to exercise, generally. So what you want to do is avoid injury or in particular, avoid excessive muscle damage. I guess the underlying message here is that it should be enjoyable. The more you enjoy it, the more likely you are to stick to it. Progression is probably the most important thing in strength training and that you progress slowly so that you are always working within yourself, but also increasing enjoyment, which will help keep you motivated.’

Finding the joy

Personally I LOVE strength training and get a real kick out ot it. I have personally been taking part in the Coach2Kilos challenge with coach Elle Linton (watch out on our Instagram for more on that!) to try and progress my own ability and it just feels so good when you’re doing it. But why is that and what is going on in your body to make it feel that good? According to Whyte there are two factors at play here:


‘Strength training is incredibly social. It can be high intensity, but a very short duration which means you can be social, and chat, while you’re doing strength training especially during the recovery periods between the exercises, which gives you an opportunity to interact with other people.

The second factor at play is much like any sort of aerobic exercise, strength training elicits the same physiological response inside the body. So what we do is we release happy hormones like serotonin and dopamine which improve mood. They make us feel happier, reduce lethargy and increase vigor. We feel happier and more alive. What you get from strength training is the best of all worlds.’

Time for a snack?

No sorry, I’m not talking about your favourite cookie here! One of the beautiful things about strength training is that you can fit in pretty much anytime, anywhere. In fact, I often do my strength training while I’m cooking dinner or while someone else is cooking dinner, which Whyte also advocates:

‘You can dissect strength exercise down into very small packages and actually snack on the strength training. So it’s something you can just fit in, when you’ve got the time. For example, while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, you can be doing squats. While you’re brushing your teeth, you can do heel raises. Whilst it’s the adverts in a TV break, you can do some press-ups. There is no necessity to do it all at once you can actually spread it across the day.

Fear of bulking up

Maybe you’ve been giving strength training a wide birth due to a fear of bulking up. Well good news because this irrational fear is based on fallacy as I can vouch for as someone that strength trains and is pretty much a bean pole! So why do so many of us have a fear that we’ll end up looking like Arnie? And what really happens instead. Whyte explains:

‘This is an absolute misnomer. It’s a sort of a dogma that resides around strength training which is that as soon as I lift a weight, I’m going to get massive. You would have to you have to train incredibly hard, with very big ways to get what we call hypertrophy, increasing muscle size. The likelihood of becoming large in terms of muscle with strength training is incredibly low.

In addition, when we do it competently, we do it at the same time as aerobic training. So, for example, going for a walk and doing strength after the walk or in whichever order. What that does is dampen the hypertrophy response. So, just by using a mixed method type of exercise, we limit the increase in the size of muscle. The bottom line is that by lifting weights, you are not going to get massive.’

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to future proof yourself and start strength training app. Whether you are a total newbie or looking to just do that little bit more, the Coach2kilos challenge is a great place to start.

Coach2Kilos is currently available to premium members of Her Spirit app at just £4.99 monthly, first 14 days free. Download and sign up here.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio, Photo by Andres AyrtonMART PRODUCTION from Pexels