Want to exercise for happy vibes? Try this mood-boosting workout from personal trainer Sarah Campus.

Exercise is a boon to your mental health. It releases a cocktail of ‘happy’ hormones (dopamine, serotonin, endorphins), and has been shown to improve mood and self-esteem while decreasing feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. You don’t have to do a lot to feel these effects – studies show that a short 15-minute run is enough to stave off the risk of major depression – and the rewards can be felt almost instantly. But when it comes to moving for your mental health, does the type of exercise you do matter?

Not necessarily. Some forms of low-intensity exercise (yoga, tai chi, light walks) have been shown to reduce levels of stress hormone cortisol. But if it’s an ‘exercise high’ you’re after, further data suggests that exercise intensity matters. Indeed, research in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology reveals high-intensity interval training (HIIT, short bursts of high-intensity exercise teamed with periods of rest) leads to a significant rise in the release of endorphins.

With that in mind, PT Sarah Campus has created this short and speedy outdoor circuit for the ultimate mood-boosting workout, to crank up your heart rate, boost blood flow around the body, and get those happy hormones flowing. Do each exercise for 30 seconds and take 15 seconds of rest between moves. Have a further one-minute rest after each round, completing four rounds in total. Enjoy!

Sarah Campus is a highly qualified women’s PT, Nutrition Coach, mum-of-three and founder of LDN MUMS FITNESS

How to do this mood-boosting workout

Star jumps

  • Start in a quarter-squat position with your back flat, feet together and palms touching the sides of your legs.
  • Jump up, raising your arms and legs out to the sides (your body should form an ‘X’ in mid-air; pictured).
  • Land softly with your feet together and immediately lower yourself back into a quarter-squat, then repeat.

Squat reach

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and engage your core.
  • Hinge at the hips by driving your hips back, bending at the knees to lower into a squat. (Strive to eventually reach parallel, meaning knees are bent to a 90-degree angle.)
  • Drop your arms between your knees (A) and press your knees slightly open with your upper arms. Press into your heels, engage your glutes and straighten your legs to return to a standing position. As you stand, reach your hands up high (B). Repeat.

Cross elbow to knee

  • Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • In one movement, exhale as you move your right elbow to meet your raised left knee in front of your torso.
  • Return to the starting position in one smooth movement, inhale.
  • Repeat the movement for the set time, then switch sides and repeat with the other arm and leg.

Reverse lunge knee-drive

  • Start in a lunge position, pressing your front foot into the floor to ‘load up’ your working leg by engaging your glutes and hamstrings (A).
  • Forcefully push through the floor to stand, squeeze the glutes and drive your back knee up to thigh-height (B).
  • Return slowly to the start, by hinging from the hips and lowering the back leg. Repeat for the set time, then switch legs.

5 Classical Pilates moves to boost your mood

Front kick

  • Start standing with your left hand raised at shoulder height and left leg slightly behind you (A).
  • Snap up your left leg at the knee and simultaneously pull the left arm down (B).
  • You want to get a lot of momentum going here – the more force and speed you put into the snap, the more force you’ll hit your ‘target’ with. Strike that target!
  • Lower to the start and repeat for the set time, then switch sides.

Slow mountain climbers

  • Start in a push-up position with your hands shoulder-width apart, directly beneath shoulders (A).
  • Slowly and gently, pull your left knee towards your chest without letting it touch the floor (B), then return to the start position.
  • Repeat the step above with your right leg, then continue alternating for the given time.

Jumping oblique twists

  • Stand with your feet together. Bring your arms to shoulder height (A).
  • Keeping your upper body facing forward, jump 3-4 inches off the ground and, as you land, rotate your feet to the right while rotating your arms to the left (B).
  • As soon as you land jump up again and rotate your feet to the left, arms to the right.
  • Alternate back and forth for the time.