The expert healthy living routine that harnesses the power of your core concentration span
Inspired by estimates that the average adult attention span dips after just 15 minutes behavioural expert Judi James, celebrity personal fitness trainer Lucy Wyndham–Read, and other top experts have devised the ‘Quarter Hour Power’ – a range of lifestyle boosting exercises and activities that can be completed in 15 minutes, giving long lasting results.
Five step-by-step exercises to harness your Quarter Hour Power:
Quarter Hour Power Life Prioritising by behavioural expert Judi James
Judi says: “Turning your entire life around in 15 minutes might seem like a tall order but it is entirely do-able. One of the biggest blocks to success and even happiness is the way we lose track of our overall priorities, wasting huge swathes of time and energy on trivial tasks rather than working towards on life enhancing goals and achievements.”
- Draw a large circle and divide it into segments that relate to different factors of your life – for example, work, health, family, rest, social life and finances. Then estimate how much of your time per week is spent on each of these factors. Without being too exacting, try colouring each segment in from the centre to show the proportion of time spent. Study each proportion to see whether it relates to how you want your life to be overall. Then just think about it before your next 15-minute session.
- Each of your next sessions should be devoted to examining each one of the segments and to come up with at least three ways to either boost or cut back the time spent on them.
The power of this exercise it that it begins to build direction in your life and a feeling of control over your own destiny as well as allowing you scope to formulate strategies to direct your life rather than just allowing yourself to be steered by events.
The small-chunk approach to this exercise is deliberately useful. Big decisions aren’t necessary. Sometimes, it helps more to make minor tweaks and take easily achievable steps.
Quarter Hour Power Workout by personal fitness trainer Lucy Wyndham-Read
Lucy says: “With this specially designed workout, you quickly move on from one exercise to another, which prevents boredom setting in. It’s also really easily fit it into your daily schedule and can be done, at home, indoors, outdoors or even in your lunch hour at work.
“The workout focuses on working different elements of your fitness by combining aerobic exercises with muscular strength and endurance exercises. This ensures that you get a full body workout. Each of the exercises targets several muscle groups at once, which is why you can achieve such great results in only 15 minutes. The key is to make activity a habit. With this easy-to-follow and in my opinion highly effective routine you can now make the quarter-hour power workout your habit for a lifetime!”
|0-2 minutes||March on the spot||Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart, knees soft and arms by your side. Begin marching, bending one knee to bring your foot just slightly off the floor and swinging the opposite arm forwards and the other arm back.|
Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart, feel the weight through your heels, breathe in, then exhale and bend as if you are about to sit on a chair. Hold for a second, then slowly straighten. Focus on feeling this toning and strengthening into your bottom muscles.
|Wide side-steps||Start with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width distance apart. Have your knees slightly bent and upper body straight, with your hands resting on your hips. Take two steps to your left, ensuring your feet stay shoulder-width distance apart (imagine you are stepping over a large puddle), then repeat, taking two large side-steps to your right.|
|5-6 minutes||Calf raises||Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Focus on good posture, keep your knees slightly bent, and slowly raise onto your tiptoes. Hold for a second, and then lower slowly. Repeat this for one minute. Focus on feeling this work in the muscles of your lower leg.|
|6-8 minutes||Knee raises||Start with feet hip-width distance apart, good upper body posture, knees soft and tummy pulled in. Start marching on the spot. Aim to get your knee to hip height, and be sure to keep your upper body straight. Pump your arms at the same time, raising the front of your elbow to shoulder height. Focus on keeping your tummy pulled in and land softly on your heel as you lower the leg. Repeat this for two minutes.|
|8-9 minutes||Lunges||Start with your feet hip-width distance apart, then take a large step forward. Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms at your side with palms facing in. Take one long step forward and bend both knees, so the front knee is aligned with the ankle and the back heel is slightly lifted. Don’t allow your back knee to touch the floor as you push yourself up. Then do the same on the other leg. Repeat this for one min.|
|9-11 minutes||Gentle jogging on the spot||To help to reduce impact, it's a good idea to do this on a mat. Simply jog on the spot, and focus on landing softly and quietly. Maintain good upper body posture. Do this for two minutes|
|11-12 minutes||Basic abdominal curl||Lying on a mat, face up with knees bent, position your feet so they are slightly apart. With your elbows out to the side, place your fingertips by your ears. Breathe in, then slowly breathe out as your lift your head and shoulders off the floor as far as you can. Focus on keeping your belly button pulled in to your spine as you lift. Repeat this for one minute.|
|12-13 minutes||Boxed press-up||Roll over on your mat and come up on to your hands and knees. Ensure your knees are directly under your hips, and your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width distance apart. Keep your fingers pointing forwards, and check that your body weight is over your hands. Pull in your tummy tight. Breathe out as you lower your body, bending your arms so that they make a 90-degree angle. Now breathe in as you push back up to your starting position. Repeat this for one minute.|
|13- 15 minutes||March on the spot||See first exercise, above.|
Quarter Hour Power Creative Visualisation for Motivation by NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) master trainer Natheera Indrasenan
Natheera says: “We all put things off from time to time. What's really happening is that, when we think of the task, we conjure up an ‘internal representation" – images, sounds and feelings – that is overwhelmingly negative. This produces a stressful internal state that discourages us from doing what we know we should.To take action, the goal is to create an internal representation that is motivating – and to practise doing so regularly. This helps us feel positive and encourages us to take the desired action. The following exercise is a small step that will help you tackle what seem like big problems in just 15 minutes of focus.”
- Take any activity you want to feel motivated about – such as going to the gym or de-cluttering the house – notice the image that comes to mind when you think of it now. Then imagine how you want it to be: the ideal outcome.
- Try to see yourself enjoying working out at the gym or see yourself lookingfit and healthy. Make the image big and colourful, bright, focused, moving, 3D. If there are any sounds, make them more pleasant.
- Notice how you feel about this image (internal state) and how you feel about making it happen.
- Keep this image in mind regularly and find yourself looking forward to taking action.
Quarter Hour Power healthy living activities by GP Dr Martin Bell
Dr Martin Bell says: “In general a good way to refresh attention span is to complete an activity in a quarter of an hour or so, or to divide it into manageable quarter hour sessions. In this way, health-giving activities can be used to their best effect and are more likely to succeed as you will be able to fully concentrate on the activity and give it your full attention. Try alternating a 15 minute mental exercise with an activity that you know will make you laugh – both work wonders for your mental health and the change in your focus between the different activities could help you to complete the mental exercise in hand more efficiently.”
There is a growing body of evidence which suggests that laughter can be health-giving. One study has shown that diabetics watching a comedy video every day cut their levels of stress and chemicals in their body linked with heart disease.
Browse favourite youtube clips, chat with a friend who makes you smile or for a more novel approach Dr Kataria from the American School of Laughter Yoga suggests this basic exercise that can be done in 15 minutes to get you laughing:
Aloha laughter: Shout alooooooooooooooooha ha ha ha to the top of your lungs as you swing your hips side to side and hands above your head, extending the "o" as long and as loudly as you can. You can do a milder version of this exercise by just saying “Aloha ha ha”.
Increasingly it is thought by medical researchers that exercising the brain regularly can help to delay the onset of conditions such as dementia and other memory problems. This makes sense because the ‘use it or lose it’ principle appears to apply to most physical abilities so why wouldn’t it apply to mental attributes as well? A study undertaken at the Mayo clinic in the USA showed that a group of people aged 50-65 who regularly read, played mentally testing games such as crosswords or So Doku or undertook craft hobbies such as quilting or knitting were found to have a 40% reduced risk of memory impairment. Spend 15 minutes on the following exercises to boost your memory.”
- When you are lying in bed try to visualise scenes from your childhood in detail. Your bedroom, classrooms etc. This helps to stimulate the mind and can also help you relax.
- Take a sentence from a magazine or newspaper and try to make another sentence using the same words. Each time you come to the end of a chapter in a book you are reading, imagine that you must summarize it as briefly as possible, orally or in writing, to someone who has not read it. Do the same for the whole book when you finish it.
Quarter Hour Power Diet Boost by dietician Azmina Govindji
Azmina says: “Often people don’t stick to their healthy eating plan because they give in to temptation, they just haven’t got the time or because the task in hand just seems too overwhelming and it’s easier to leave it for another day. The following tips are small steps that can help you keep an eye on your waistline and your health. They take a simple 15 minutes but could have a big impact on helping you to achieve long term goals.”Exercise 1:
- Shop online. Take 15 minutes to get your groceries online – this saves you time in the supermarket and prevents you getting lured by the smells at the bakery counter. Make a quick list and stick to it. Shopping online for groceries is likely to benefit the bulge and the budget as you’re less likely to be tempted by buy one get one free offers and other promotions.
- Do what you can to prepare your breakfast the night before. This could mean getting your cereal bowl ready, whizzing up a fresh-fruit smoothie or making some home-made muesli. That way, you are more likely to eat breakfast even if you’re in a hurry. Skipping breakfast could make you reach for unhealthy snacks during the day. Research shows that breakfast eaters are better able to manage their weight, so these 15 minutes could be time well spent.
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