I tried using Pilates to boost my mood and energy levels in the afternoon. Here's how it went

I tried these seven gentle movements designed to stretch and strengthen your body

Woman practicing Pilates swan variation exercise in living room in front of laptop
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's normal to experience dips in energy throughout the day. I know I often do, particularly in the afternoon when I've been sitting at my desk for hours.

Usually, I'll opt for a coffee or a sugary snack to perk me up, but I spotted a gentle 'feel-good' Pilates routine that instructor Ashlea McKee posted on Instagram, designed to boost your mood, as well as mobilize the body. I gave it a go to see if it would combat my usual afternoon slump.

If you've never tried Pilates, it's a form of movement that uses bodyweight exercises in a small and controlled way to strengthen and tone the muscles. It’s low-impact, so won't stress your joints. But I know from the Pilates workouts I've done in the past that it can still pack a punch and is particularly challenging for the core muscles.

Pilates is also great for mobilizing the joints and may improve posture and coordination. But can Pilates improve your mood? Here’s what I found, after trying this routine.

How to do Ashlea McKee's feel-good Pilates routine

A post shared by Ashlea McKee | Pilates & Wellness

A photo posted by pilateswithashlea on

There are seven bodyweight movements in this routine and I did 10 repetitions of each exercise, which meant the entire routine took less than 10 minutes.

You don't need much equipment for this routine, but it can help to have a cheap Pilates mat to hand, like this cheap $30 option from Amazon.

My experience trying Ashlea McKee's feel-good Pilates routine

The movements in this routine are classical Pilates moves, which may be considered gentle, but I felt my core switched on throughout. The roll-up prep and full roll-up were both really nice movements to wake up my abdominal muscles. The single-leg stretch and the sidekick also fired up my mid-body muscles, which felt good after sitting at my desk all day.

Speaking of desk-job stiffness, this routine was also an effective way of stretching out my lower back and hips—they felt more comfortable after the session.

So this routine made my body feel good, but how did it affect my mood and energy levels? I can't say I felt a rush of endorphins in the same way as I do from a run. But I felt more refreshed compared to when I started.

I also felt good about myself for doing some movement and none of the exercises were so strenuous that they left me feeling exhausted or achy.

I think this is a great routine to try when you're feeling low on energy but don’t want anything too stressful. Sometimes a little bit of movement is all you need.

Looking for more routines like this one? Try these gentle beginner yoga stretches, to wake up your body in the morning, or have a go at this quick Pilates abs workout.

Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.