Forget Blue Monday — 5 bodyweight strength building moves to boost your mood

a photo of a woman in workout wear wiping her face with a towel and smiling
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In the heart of winter, when the days are short, and the chill in the air feels relentless, a particular date looms on the calendar: Blue Monday. It's that melancholic Monday in January when the post-holiday high has waned, resolutions begin to crumble, and the relentless cold becomes a tiresome companion. 

study from Nike x Next revealed that four in five of us struggle to exercise during the winter months. Instead of allowing this doom and gloomy day to consume you, why not get up, throw on your best gym leggings or your favorite workout shorts and get stuck into a simple bodyweight workout? Beyond the physical benefits, the endorphin release from a good workout can be a powerful antidote to feeling down. 

Online coach and personal trainer Ben Teasdale told us, “The benefits of exercise aren’t just physical. It’s been scientifically proven that regular exercise also significantly impacts your mental health by reducing your cortisol levels and releasing endorphins.”

With that in mind, Teasdale kindly gave us a five move strength building routine designed to boost your mood and work your muscles. The workout requires no equipment so anyone can try it from anywhere, no gym membership or fancy equipment is required. It’s just on you to show up...

What is the workout? 

There are five exercises in total, each of which you will spend 30 seconds on, taking a brief 10 second pause between them. After completing a round, allow yourself a rest of one to two minutes before diving into the next. Aim for three rounds to gently infuse a little energy into your day and combat Blue Monday.

Bodyweight squat

an illustration of a man performing a bodyweight squat

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Position your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointed slightly outwards. Keeping your shoulders held back and your chest lifted, push your hips back and drive your knees slightly outwards, lowering your body until you’re almost parallel to the floor. 

Make sure to keep your weight through your heels and your core tight throughout the movement.

Static lunges

an illustration of a man performing static lunges

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Take a step forward with your front foot and adopt a lengthened stance. Bend both your knees to a 90-degree angle (your back knee should touch the floor or just above it). Then once you’re at the bottom of the lunge, push off your back foot to drive yourself upwards to the original start position. 

Swap your front and back feet and repeat.

Kneeling push ups

an illustration of a man performing a kneeling push up

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Kneel on the floor and place your hands out on the floor in front of you, shoulder-width apart. Keep your core tight and lower your torso, bending your arms to allow your chest to brush the floor. 

From this position, push your torso back up to the starting position.

Sit ups

an illustration a man performing a sit up

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Lie down on your back with your feet planted on the floor and your knees bent. Place your hands behind your head. Using your core muscles, lift your upper body off the floor until you are in a seated position. 

It’s important to fuel this exercise using your core rather than using your arms or back muscles for momentum.

High knees

an illustration of a man performing high knees

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Stand tall with your feet shoulder width apart. Drive your right knee towards your chest (the higher the better!) while simultaneously bending your left arm and raising your hand. Then lower your right leg and left hand and repeat the movement with your left leg and right hand. Keep alternating from side to side.

Why bother doing this bodyweight workout?

A simple bodyweight workout like this holds a multitude of benefits, including helping to tackle the lethargy that often accompanies Blue Monday. Firstly, the routine elevates the heart rate, promoting cardiovascular health and improving overall fitness. This burst in physical activity not only counters the sedentary nature that can contribute to the January blues but also stimulates the release of endorphins, known to act as natural mood lifters.

Beyond cardiovascular advantages, the workout helps with muscle stimulation. As you move through each exercise, various muscle groups are targeted. For those seeking an extra challenge, incorporating weights into the routine can further intensify the workout. Whether it's a set of the best adjustable dumbbells or improvised household items, adding resistance not only increases the physical demand but also aids in muscle building. 

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Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.

Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.

She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.