The ultimate wellbeing workout - Women's Running

The ultimate wellbeing workout

Author: Holly Taylor

Read Time:   |  August 13, 2021

One workout circuit to get the blood flowing and one to relax: because it's crucial to take care of our minds as well as our bodies

The last 18-months have taken a toll on most people. The monotony of doing the same thing in the same place and the lack of socialising at parkruns, races and with other friends have had an impact on us all and the way we live. Exercising is one of the best ways to improve your mental wellbeing, and we understand that it might be hard to get going some days so we have created two circuits. The first one will get your blood pumping and require a bit of concentration, as focusing on something else can help you improve the way you feel. The second circuit (over the page) is all about stretching and relaxation. Breathe deeply when you do these cooldown exercises and keep your eyes closed to help you calm your mind.

Warm up: Walk on the spot for two minutes or walk up and down the stairs four times.
Sets and reps: Perform each exercise for one minute and rest for 30 seconds in between. Download an app to help you keep time so you can just focus on breathing.
Cooldown: Lie on your back with your eyes closed. Breathe in for four counts, hold your breath for four counts and breathe out for eight counts. The first few times you might find it hard to breathe out for eight counts, but this gets easier with practice.

Single leg wood chop

Areas trained
Core and calf muscles (transversus abdominus, gastrocnemius)

Why do it?
Balancing is a great way to focus your mind on something different; it helps you clear your mind and forget about the things that are troubling you.


  • Stand on your left leg and extend your right arm to the ceiling
  • Focus on spreading your bodyweight evenly through your foot
  • Bend your left knee and lower your right arm to touch the outside of your left calf muscle
  • Return to the standing position
  • Perform your repetitions for 30 seconds on one side before changing over to the other side

Be safe
Don’t curl your toes in your shoes, try to relax your foot and toes.

Plank rotation

Areas trained
Side and core muscles (obliques, transversus abdominus)

Why do it?
Your side muscles are an essential part of core strength: focusing on core will develop your posture and your form.


  • Lie on your stomach on the floor
  • Place your elbows directly underneath your shoulders
  • Lift your hips off the floor to form a straight line between your shoulders, hips and feet (the starting position)
  • Lift your right arm off the floor and rotate your hips until it faces up to the ceiling
  • Slowly rotate your right arm back to the floor and repeat the move towards the left side
  • Carry on, alternating between right and left

Be safe
Keep your core muscles tight to prevent your lower back from arching. If this exercise is too hard keep your knees on the floor.

Lunge rotation

Areas trained
Front and back thigh, bottom, side muscles (quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, obliques)

Why do it?
When you don’t feel like training, start with this exercise. It will give you a full body workout, increase your heartrate and put you in the right frame of mind.


  • Stand with your feet together and your arms stretched out in front of you parallel to the floor
  • Step forward with one leg and bend both knees to perform a lunge
  • Simultaneously rotate your arms towards the front leg
  • Step back to the starting position and repeat to the other side

Be safe
If the exercise gets too easy, hold a weight out in front of you.

Mountain climber

Areas trained
Core muscles, shoulders, arms (transverse abdominus, deltoids, triceps, biceps)

Why do it?
Mountain climbers will give you a full body workout and help increase your blood circulation.


  • Lift your knees off the floor
  • Pull one knee in towards your elbow
  • Push that leg back and place your foot on the floor
  • Repeat on the other side
  • Repeat the move as fast as you can without losing technique

Be safe
Be careful if you have high blood pressure.

Neck stretch

Areas trained
Neck muscles (levator scapulae, sternocleidomastoid, trapezius)

Why do it?
When you’re stressed you tend to pull your shoulders up. This can lead to tension headaches and neck stiffness, both of which can influence your sleep and the way you feel.


  • Sit on a stability ball or chair
  • Place your left hand behind your back
  • Drop your right ear toward your right shoulder
  • Use your right hand to slightly pull on your head to increase the stretch
  • Focus on pushing your shoulders down
  • Focus on breathing

Be safe
Don’t bounce your stretch and keep it within normal range of motion.

Hip roll

Areas trained
Side muscles (obliques)

Why do it?
Sitting tightens your hips and can cause back pain; hip rolls loosen up your hips and lower back and also help you to open your lungs.


  • Lie on your back on the floor with your legs at a right angle
  • Extend your arms sideways for balance
  • Roll your legs over to one side until your knees touch the floor but don’t rest your legs on the floor
  • Ensure that you keep your shoulders flat on the floor in this position
  • Use your side muscles and lift your legs back up to the starting position
  • If the exercise feels too easy to straighten your legs to increase the intensity

Be safe
Maintain good form through the whole movement and engage your core.

Child pose with stability ball

Areas trained
Shoulders and upper back (deltoids, trapezius, latissimus dorsi)

Why do it?
This position relaxes your shoulders and back. Keep your eyes closed and focus on your breathing to help clear your mind.


  • Sit backward on your heels
  • Stretch your arms out in front and place your hands on a stability ball
  • Drop your head between your arms until you feel a stretch through your shoulders and upper back

Be safe
Stretch within your comfort levels. Be careful if you have knee problems.

Reclining bound angle pose

Areas trained
Inner, outer and front thighs (adductors, abductors, quadriceps)

Why do it?
This exercise will stretch your groin and increase blood circulation around your pelvis area; it can also help to release menstrual pain.


  • Lie down on your back
  • Bend your knees and push the soles of your feet together
  • Pull your heels up towards your pelvis until you feel a stretch
  • Hold the position for a minute while focusing on your breathing

Be safe
You can add pillows underneath your knees and head if you feel uncomfortable.

Want more like this? Here’s our ultimate glute and hamstring workout.

Written by

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor is the digital editor of Women’s Running and co-host of the Women’s Running podcast, where she shares her running journey as well as the inspiring stories of women runners all over the country. She’s never been the sporty type, but running is the first time she’s felt real joy in getting active. She loves talking about running with a community of inclusive and supportive runners, and Women's Running is the perfect space for this. She's currently aiming for a half marathon PB!

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