Whether you're working remotely or in the office, trying to stay active can seem near impossible, especially when the best part of your day is spent sitting at a desk.
However, keeping active is perhaps more important now than ever, as sitting for prolonged periods of time has been linked with a number of health concerns, including obesity, high blood pressure and even a greater risk of depression.
To add to that, sitting for more than seven hours a day can also have a negative impact on posture and joint mobility.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of equipment-free mobility exercises you can do to improve your posture and free up your joints.
WHY IS POSTURE IMPORTANT?
Having good posture is about more than looking good. It helps you to build strength, flexibility and balance which can help to reduce muscle pain and provide more energy throughout the day.
Proper posture also relieves stress on your muscles and ligaments, which can reduce your risk of injury.
HOW TO IMPROVE POSTURE?
Improving your posture helps you to become more aware of your muscles, making it easier to correct your own posture. As you work on your posture, you may start to notice some imbalances or areas of tightness.
Here are six mobility exercises to improve posture.
1. CAT-COW STRETCH
Sitting for prolonged periods is associated with a reduced range of motion in the mid-back, which can leave you feeling stiff. Practising cat-cow stretches restores movement in this area, while helping to relieve tension in your shoulders, neck and torso.
- Start on your hands and knees with your weight balanced evenly between all four points. Your wrists should be underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.
- As you inhale, look up and allow your belly to sink toward the ground as you extend your spine. This is cow pose.
- As you exhale, come into cat pose by arching your spine toward the ceiling and tucking your chin into your chest.
- Repeat this sequence for 10 slow repetitions.
2. CHILD’S POSE
This pose works to improve your posture by stretching and lengthening your spine, glutes and hamstrings. It also helps to release tension in your lower back and neck.
- Sit on your shins with your knees together, your big toes touching and your heels splayed out to the side.
- Fold forward at your hips and walk your hands out in front of you.
- Sink your hips back down toward your feet, so your bottom is aiming to touch your ankles. If your thighs won’t go all the way down, you can place a pillow under them for support.
- Gently place your forehead on the floor or turn your head to one side.
- Keep your arms extended as you relax your shoulders toward the ground.
- Hold this position for up to five minutes while continuing to breathe deeply.
3. DOWNWARD FACING DOG
The downward facing dog pose is an effective mobility exercise to relieve back pain, while also strengthening and aligning your back muscles. If practised regularly, it can help to improve posture.
- Lying with your stomach on the floor, press into your hands as you tuck your toes under your feet and lift your heels.
- Lift your knees and hips to bring your sitting bones up toward the ceiling.
- Bend your knees slightly and lengthen your spine.
- Keep your ears in line with your upper arms or tuck your chin all the way into your chest.
- Press firmly into your hands and keep your heels slightly lifted.
- Remain in this pose for up to a minute.
4. HIGH PLANK
The high plank pose helps to relieve pain and stiffness throughout your body while strengthening your shoulders, glutes and hamstrings. It is also a great way to build balance and strength in your core and back - both of which are important for good posture.
- Start on all fours and straighten your legs, lift your heels and raise your hips.
- Straighten your back, so you’re in a neutral spine position, and engage your abdominal, arm and leg muscles.
- Lengthen the back of your neck by slowly looking down at the floor. Make sure to keep your chest open and shoulders back.
- Hold this position for up to one minute at a time.
5. FORWARD FOLD
This standing stretch releases tension in your spine, hamstrings and glutes, while stretching your hips and legs. As you do this stretch, you should feel the entire back side of your body opening up and lengthening.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and arms by your sides.
- Exhale as you fold forward from the hips and bring your head towards the floor. Tuck your chin into your chest, relax your shoulders and think about extending the crown of your head toward the floor to create a long spine.
- Keep your knees straight but with a gentle bend, so they’re not locked. This will help to protect your back.
- Touch the floor with your fingertips or reach them as far as feels comfortable. You can also wrap your arms around your legs if you wish.
- Hold this pose for 30 to 60 seconds and don’t forget to breathe.
6. WALL SLIDES
Wall slides are great for tackling rounded shoulders and forward head posture, which are often a result of chronic sitting.
This exercise activates the deep neck flexors and the mid-back area, helping you to open up through the front of the body and adopt a more upright position.
- Stand with your back flat to a wall, touching the wall with your head and your entire back, so there is no arch in the lower back.
- Place your arms out to your side with your elbows bent at 90 degrees. Your elbows and the back of your hands should touch the wall.
- Slowly slide your arms up the wall, aiming to get your arms straight up overhead while maintaining all of the points of contact mentioned.
- When you reach the top, slowly reverse the motion, pulling your elbows down toward your hips.
- If you find it difficult to maintain contact between your lower back and the wall, you may need to step your feet further away from the wall and bend your knees.
- Slowly repeat this sequence 10 times, followed by a 10 second hold in the overhead reach position.
Requiring only a fraction of your time, these mobility exercises are an easy and accessible way to improve your posture. Plus, with no need for equipment, you can even try these posture exercises during the day to break up your busy work schedule.
Whenever or wherever you choose to do them, make sure you’re finding time to keep active and look after your posture.
Want more fitness tips? Check out The Best Workouts For You Based On Your Star Sign.
What Is The 12-3-30 Workout - And Does It Work?
If, like us, you’re just a teeny bit obsessed with FitTok (AKA Fitness TikTok), you’ll have no doubt seen someone raving about the ‘12-3-30’ workout.
The viral cardio routine requires just 30 minutes and a treadmill - and no running. Seems almost too good to be true, if you ask us. Almost.
The concept originated from social media influencer Lauren Giraldo, who shared it on YouTube in 2019, and again on TikTok in November 2020, where a video explaining the workout racked up 12.6 million views and more than 2.7 million likes (and counting).
The hashtag #12330 now has over 224.5 million views on TikTok, with thousands of fans - including the likes of Kylie Jenner - trying it out every day.
The beauty of this workout is that rather than absolutely destroying you into a pool of sweat and tears, it’s based purely on walking on a treadmill. Granted, it does sound easier than it actually is, but its many potential benefits, including the fact that it’s accessible to pretty much everyone, makes it a lot more credible.
To get the lowdown on whether it actually works, keep on reading.
WHAT IS THE 12-3-30 WORKOUT?
The workout follows a simple format:
- Set your treadmill incline to 12%;
- Set your speed to 3mph;
- Walk for 30 minutes.
However, if you’re from the UK, you need to do things just a little differently.
In the US, treadmills use miles as their speed metric, but in the UK, treadmill speed is measured in kmph, which means you actually need to set your speed to 4.8.
We also recommend starting with a five-minute warm-up and a five-minute cool-down, both without any incline.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THE 12-3-30 WORKOUT?
The 12-3-30 workout is centred around walking and walking in general is a great form of low-impact exercise.
According to research, walking regularly at a brisk pace offers a ton of health benefits, including strengthening your bones and muscles, improving your balance and coordination and preventing or managing conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
Other benefits of the 12-3-30 workout include:
- Improving cardiovascular fitness;
- Improving stamina;
- Regulating blood pressure;
- Boosting mood;
- Burning fat/contributing to weight loss.
In her viral video, Lauren shares that the workout helped her to lose 30 pounds and has given her more confidence to go to the gym.
@aybl Step up your cardio in Ignite - available to shop now 🛍 @katiebecknell #BeAYBL ♬ original sound - AYBL
IS 12-3-30 A GOOD WORKOUT?
The 12-3-30 workout is a step up from walking in general, as it consists of walking briskly at a steep incline. Because of this, there is more gravity resistance trying to pull you back down, and your muscles - particularly your lower body - have to work extra hard to overcome that added force. This means your heart has to work harder too.
Because it’s an activity that involves just walking, it’s accessible to most people and is a good alternative for those who don’t enjoy running or who are unable to run.
On top of that, The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends adults should get at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week, meaning doing this 30-minute uphill workout five days a week hits that requirement. Sounds easy enough, right?
That being said, adding other elements of physical activity is necessary for a more well-rounded routine. Discover more here.
HOW TO DO THE 12-3-30 WORKOUT SAFELY?
You know that saying, ‘slow and steady wins the race’? Well, it rings true with this workout too. Resist the urge to jump in too quickly, and take time to ease in.
Stretching is key for any workout and, like we said earlier, it's recommended that you do a five-minute warm-up with no incline before getting into 12-3-30.
The same goes for cooling down too. Allotting time to recover after a good sweat optimises benefits and lowers the risk of potential injuries.
Make sure to approach this workout with extra caution if you’re a beginner and/or suffer with knee or lower back problems.
The 12-3-30 treadmill workout is an effective aerobic routine that gets your heart rate up, builds strength and may even contribute to weight loss when paired with a balanced diet. However, it’s no magic pill for weight loss or even fitness in general.
Nobody knows your body better than you do, so stay in tune with yourself and go at your own pace.
6 Quick & Easy Student Recipes
Cooking on a budget needn’t be boring, girls.
When you’re a student, you need plenty of nutrition and goodness to fuel your brain. That means more fruit and veg and less of those cheap and nasty packet noodles. Besides, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice great taste even if you are trying to save a few pennies!
That’s why we’ve put together a selection of recipe ideas for students that are cheap, quick and tasty to guarantee you eat well at university.
1. SMOKY CHICKPEAS AND EGG ON TOAST
PREP TIME: 2 mins.
COOK TIME: 10 mins.
- 1 tsp olive or vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 tsp chipotle paste
- 250ml passata
- 400g tin chickpeas, drained
- 2 tsp honey
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- 2 to 4 slices crusty bread
- 2 eggs
- Heat ½ tsp of oil in a pan. Add in the onion and cook until softened (about 5 to 8 minutes), then add the chipotle paste, passata, chickpeas, honey and vinegar. Season and simmer for 5 minutes.
- While you toast the bread, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and fry the eggs. Drizzle the toast with a little oil, then top with the chickpeas and fried eggs.
2. GINGER, SESAME AND CHILLI PRAWN AND BROCCOLI STIR FRY
PREP TIME: 5 mins.
COOK TIME: 10 mins.
- 250g broccoli, cut into even-sized florets
- 2 balls stem ginger, finely chopped, plus 2 tbsp syrup from the jar
- 3 tbsp low-salt soy sauce
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 red chilli, partially thinly sliced, the rest deseeded and finely chopped
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- ½ tbsp sesame oil
- 200g raw king prawns
- 100g beansprouts
- Cooked rice or noodles, to serve
- Heat a pan of water until boiling. Tip in the broccoli and cook for just 1 minute, so it still has a good crunch. Meanwhile, mix the stem ginger and syrup, soy sauce, garlic and finely chopped chilli.
- Toast the sesame seeds in a dry wok or large frying pan. When they’re nicely browned, increase the heat and add the oil, prawns and cooked broccoli. Stir-fry for a few minutes until the prawns turn pink.
- Pour over the ginger sauce, then add in the beansprouts. Cook for 30 seconds or until the beansprouts are cooked through, adding a splash more soy or ginger syrup if desired.
- Scatter with the sliced chilli and serve over rice or noodles.
3. CAPONATA PASTA
PREP TIME: 2 mins.
COOK TIME: 18 mins.
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 250g chargrilled Mediterranean veg, roughly chopped
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp small capers
- 2 tbsp raisins
- 350g rigatoni, penne or another short pasta shape
- Fresh basil, picked
- Parmesan, shaved, to serve
- Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion for 8 to 10 minutes until it begins to caramelise. Add the garlic for the final 2 minutes of cooking time.
- Tip in the mixed veg, tomatoes, capers and raisins. Season well and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until you have a rich sauce.
- Pour a kettleful of boiled water into a large pan with a little salt and bring back to the boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender, then drain, reserving some of the pasta water.
- Tip the pasta into the sauce, adding a splash of the pasta water if needs be. Top with the basil and parmesan.
4. CHICKEN AND TOMATO SPICED CURRY
PREP TIME: 5 mins.
COOK TIME: 25 mins.
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 450g chicken breast, cut into cubes
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 tbsp Madras curry paste
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 300g basmati rice
- Handful fresh coriander, chopped, to serve
- Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish set over a high heat. Cook the chicken for 5 to 7 minutes until golden, then remove and set aside.
- Pour the remaining oil in the dish. Add the onion, cook for 3 minutes until soft, then add the red pepper and cook for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Mix in the curry paste until everything is well coated.
- Pour in the tinned tomatoes along with 200ml water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover the dish and leave to simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened a little. Return the chicken to the dish and cook for 5 minutes, uncovered, until piping hot and cooked through.
- Meanwhile, cook the basmati rice following the instructions on the pack. Serve with the curry and sprinkle over the coriander to finish.
5. SMOKY SAUSAGE CHILLI
PREP TIME: 20 mins.
COOK TIME: 40 mins.
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery sticks, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 45g chipotle paste
- 6 pork sausages, cut into chunks
- 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
- ½ red chilli, sliced
- Handful fresh coriander
- Steamed basmati rice or tortilla chips, to serve
- Heat the oil in a casserole dish over a medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, garlic and bay leaf and fry for 8 minutes until the vegetables are starting to soften. Add the cumin, coriander and chipotle paste and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the sausages and fry for 5 minutes (they don’t need to be fully browned), then add the chopped tomatoes and 150ml water. Season with black pepper, then bring to a simmer. Put the lid on and cook for 35 to 45 minutes until the sausages are cooked through. If the sauce is a little too thick for your liking, add a splash of water.
- Scatter over the red chilli and coriander and serve with steamed rice or tortilla chips.
6. SPINACH, SWEET POTATO AND LENTIL DHAL
PREP TIME: 10 mins.
COOK TIME: 35 mins.
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- Thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- 1 ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
- 2 sweet potatoes, cut into even chunks
- 250g red split lentils
- 600ml vegetable stock
- 80g bag of spinach
- 4 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal, to serve
- Heat the sesame oil in a wide-based pan with a tight-fitting lid. Add the onion and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.
- Add the garlic, ginger and chilli, cook for 1 minute, then add the turmeric and ground cumin and cook for a further minute.
- Turn up the heat to medium, add the chopped sweet potato and stir everything together, so the potato is coated in the spice mixture.
- Tip in the red split lentils, vegetable stock and some seasoning. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes until the lentils are soft and the potato is just holding its shape.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, then gently stir in the spinach. Once wilted, top with the spring onions.
Delicious? We think so!
With everything from a smoky sausage chilli to veggie and vegan student recipes too, there’s something for everyone.
To make things that little bit more exciting, why not get your housemates to join in too? You could even take it in turn to cook for one another - Come Dine With Me style.
If you’re looking for more student advice, check out our blog on How To Budget At Uni.
The Athlete Spotlight: Meet Lexie Learmann
Beauty, charm, humility and kindness. Who says you can’t have it all?!
We caught up with AYBL Athlete, Lexie Learmann, who showed us that you absolutely can.
We’ve been fortunate enough to work with Lexie for a few months now, so it’s likely you will have seen her all over our Instagram and TikTok, especially during our Summer Sale. But, today, we want to show you a side of the TikTok star that you don’t necessarily get to see every day.
During our chat together, we discovered what inspired her to share her fitness journey, her proudest and most challenging moment so far and what’s next on her agenda - and let’s just say, it’s big!
HEY LEXIE! TELL US, WHEN DID YOU START YOUR FITNESS JOURNEY AND WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO SHARE IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
I started my fitness journey in January 2021, when I got my very first gym membership. What inspired me to do so was that I was big into sports, like basketball, soccer and track, but because of Covid, those sports didn’t happen. However, I still wanted to stay in shape and be healthy, so I decided to start going to the gym.
As for sharing it on social media, I basically just started creating TikToks for fun, posting random videos of whatever was trending. I got a lot of comments about what my workout routine was and because, at that point, I was consistently going to the gym, I just started sharing my journey. I was really nervous at first, but I just kept doing it because I thought it was fun and it just went from there.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS OR ADVICE FOR SOMEONE WHO IS LOOKING TO START SHARING THEIR FITNESS JOURNEY ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
My number one thing would be to stay consistent regardless of what other people may think or comment and even if you feel nervous - that’s normal! I really think staying consistent and continuing to create content will pay off and it will eventually reach the audience that you want it to. As long as you’re happy with what you’re posting, it will do well.
I know I was so nervous to start posting, I would think to myself ‘OMG, what are people going to think?’ and people did say stuff, like ‘the wannabe influencer’. But it just shows how hard you’ve worked to come from a place where you’re super vulnerable to your content being a success.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL WEEKLY WORKOUT ROUTINE LOOK LIKE?
I workout about five to six times per week - normally five times just because of my schedule and I do love my rest days, so five times is perfect for me.
My week consists of:
- Monday: Lower body (quads and glutes);
- Tuesday: Upper body (back and arms or push day);
- Wednesday: Glutes, including heavy compound lifts;
- Thursday: Rest;
- Friday: Full body session or push;
- Saturday/Sunday: Cardio and abs.
@lexielearmann TIME TO TAP IN😮💨 #fyp #gymtok #beaybl #routine #glutesworkout ♬ She Make It Clap - Soulja Boy
WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST AND MOST CHALLENGING MOMENT SO FAR IN REGARDS TO YOUR FITNESS JOURNEY?
My biggest challenge would honestly be just staying consistent, especially with starting my fitness journey during Covid. It was very hard to go out without feeling like you were being judged even if it was to better yourself. Also, mentally, there were a lot of days when I did not have the motivation to go and I felt I wasn’t seeing any progress, so that really demotivated me. It took a lot of discipline to go to the gym and keep going, but once I overcame that, I started seeing the most progress.
I think one of my proudest moments would be when I first looked back at the pictures I started taking of myself at the beginning of my fitness journey. I don’t take a lot, but I took enough to see the difference between what I look like now versus then. But I haven’t just seen a difference physically, mentally, I feel much more confident about where I’m going and what I’m doing and I think that just made me feel really proud of myself and all of the work that I’ve put in.
I really wish I took more photos. You don’t realise until you’re so far into your journey how far you’ve actually come and it’s when you look at those photos or videos, you realise ‘my body really is changing!’ and it can motivate you even more.
WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES YOUR SOCIAL CONTENT SO SUCCESSFUL?
It’s all happened really fast. In my head, I think my age has some role in it just because of how young I am - I was still in high school when I first started blowing up. Also, the fact that I have a twin sister, I feel a lot of people have found that super interesting.
I think a massive part is because I’m consistent with posting content and even responding to comments. I’m always reading my comments, as I’m interested in what people want to see from me, whether that’s my fitness routine or what I eat. I’m always willing to create content that my audience wants to see.
I feel like I’m just super real and honest about my journey and what works for me. I also think YouTube and Instagram Stories have really helped, as it’s meant people can see more chatty content from both Ana and I and get to know us on a more personal level. People love seeing the connection we have and how close we are.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BEING AN AYBL ATHLETE AND WHY?
When I first met Chloe (Sponsorship Executive) and Dan (Sponsorship Manager), they were super approachable, super nice and super welcoming and I just feel like they give off such good vibes. I think that’s really important when it comes to working with people and brands.
When we went to LA and met the other athletes, it just felt like a family. That was my first time meeting them and they were all super nice and we were all hyping each other up and I feel like it’s such a good thing to be a part of.
Also, the clothes make me feel great when lifting and working out.
Having all of this is really hard to find. Being with a brand that wants you to be successful too is another thing I look for in partnerships. You guys just do such a good job and I couldn’t ask to be part of a better community.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE IN LA FOR OUR SUMMER SALE? WHAT DID YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR TIME THERE?
Oh my gosh, I don’t even know where to start! Ana and I were just stunned by how well you guys treated us. I was so amazed! I’ve never been on a brand trip like that before and it couldn’t have been a better experience for us.
You even thought of little things, like laying out food in the room - it was just so nice and I wasn’t expecting any of that. You guys have honestly set our expectations so high!
When we were at the shoots, you guys were always hyping us up, you had lots of cool ideas and were always giving us something to do. We also got to talk to you on a personal level which was great. It was so fun and you guys honestly made it amazing!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE AYBL COLLECTION OR SET AND WHY?
Ooo that’s a good one!
I absolutely love the Motion Seamless Cycling Shorts, they’re like the perfect length for me and the colours are just insane, they make me look so good and tanned! I just feel really good when working out in them.
Also, I really love the Evolve Animal Seamless sets, especially in Light Grey. It looks good on everyone, it hugs all the right places and it’s great for all kinds of workouts.
I’ve also just received the new collection of Essential Sports Bras and I absolutely love the Essential Bandeau Sports Bra, it fits so nicely and my followers love them too!
DO YOU HAVE ANY TOP TIPS FOR OUR FEMALE COMMUNITY TO HELP THEM MAINTAIN THEIR FITNESS MOTIVATION AND ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS?
Doing it for yourself is one of my biggest things. Having that motivation to do it for you and no one else will bring you a long way.
Staying consistent is another really big thing - in fact, I think consistency is more important than motivation because motivation will only get you so far.
Take progress pics to see how far you’ve come. When it comes to pushing yourself, looking back at what progress you’ve made can really help give you that extra push.
Finally, push yourself! There’s a lot of things that you might be scared of doing in the gym, whether that’s using different equipment or doing different exercises, but once you start feeling more comfortable in that space, you’ll be confident enough to try something else.
WHAT DOES THE REST OF 2022 LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
I actually have a lot coming up. I just graduated high school, so going to college is a really big step for me - I’m going to major in Nutrition.
I’m also moving into a new apartment soon, which is so crazy! It’s in a different area, so it’s going to be such a big culture and lifestyle shock for me.
In terms of my fitness goals, I really want to work on my squat depth. Being an athlete has put a lot of hardship on my knees and muscles, so I’m really trying to work on that. I have bad knee pain - when I was younger, I had Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease. The doctors used to think I’d grow to over six feet tall because by fifth grade, I was 5 feet 6 inches. My knees took a beating when it came to sport.
I’ve got lots going on and I’m super excited, yet super nervous.
We just love her and we know you do too!
Want to kick back with more of our AYBL Athletes? Catch up with Elena Stavinoha here.