I ditched running for this low intensity 10-minute workout — here’s what happened to my mind and body

a woman performing a glute bridge
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's very easy to fall into the mindset that if you're not cursing your way through a challenging workout or dripping in sweat by the end of it, then you haven't done enough. But the truth is, that's a bunch of nonsense and I can vouch for this. I recently ditched my usual morning run for 10 minutes of low-intensity bodyweight exercise and felt great for it.

While I am in the process of having some medical tests done on my heart, I've been advised to take it easy in the exercise department. This has meant I've been spending a lot less time in the best running shoes and a lot more time practicing low-intensity exercise on my yoga mat at home.

So when I stumbled across fitness trainer Sara Colquhoun's 10-minute daily exercise routine, I thought I'd give it a whirl. 

What is the 10 minute routine?

The routine consists of seven exercises, each of which move, stretch and lightly challenge different parts of the body as you move through the reps. The reps vary per exercise which you can view in full below.

  1. Pelvic press-heel match x 20 each leg
  2. Kneeling swim x 15 each side
  3. Restless cat x 8
  4. Side plank with clam x 15 each side
  5. Squat to rise x 20
  6. Side glute x 20 each side
  7. Runners swimming x 15 each side

I loved how low maintenance it was

The beauty of this bodyweight exercise routine lies in its simplicity. With no need to acquire any special equipment or even leave the house for it, I found I had no excuse not to do this workout.

Although running has a reputation for being a very accessible sport, I've found the more I seriously I take it as a hobby the more I end up spending money on things like the best running apps for tailored training plans, the trendy sunglasses, one of the best running watches; the list goes on.

Then of course, you have the prep before heading out the door of syncing my training plan to my watch, making sure my headphones are charged and that I've packed my keys. It all adds up.

Running isn't something I ever plan on giving up but I must admit, I did enjoy how easy it was to roll out a mat and jump straight into this routine. Plus, it was over and done with in a mere 10 minutes.

I felt a good mind-body connection

As it was just me and the mat and no other external factors coming into play during this routine, I found it much easier to really tune into what my body felt like during each exercise.

I had time to check and notice my hip flexors were feeling a bit tight but I also was able to just just appreciate the release of any tensions around my muscles and joints. For example, I loved the release I felt in my hamstrings as I worked through the squat to rise move.

Secondly, breathwork is something I aim to be more mindful of during my workouts. Last year, I experimented with switching to nasal breathing only while running. However, finding a more harmonious or efficient way of breathing during exercise doesn't come naturally to me.

Thanks to the lower intensity of this 10-minute routine, I found it easier to switch of all other thoughts and focus on coordinating my breath with my movements.

My body felt looser and my mind felt clearer

I wasn't expecting to feel much difference in my body after ten minutes of movement but it's seven different exercises my body wouldn't have experienced had I spent that extra ten minutes in bed. 

After completing the routine, my body felt more awake and I felt notably looser in my hips, back and legs. I chose to do the routine first thing in the morning but it's something I'll be using next time I need a break from my desk when I'm working from home to gently reduce any stiffness and help stimulate bloodflow.

Plus, the physical benefits of the workout had a knock-on effect on my mood. It's said time and time again but moving the body in a way that feels good for you really can make a big difference to your mental wellbeing.

Focusing on a routine that isn't intense but requires you to think about what you are doing with your body was a great way for me to clear my mind and feel a boost in my overall mood.

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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.