MONDAY MOVE

Plus, it feels incredible

If I were, for some reason, only allowed to do one stretch for the rest of my life, I’m fairly certain it would be cat-cow. This thing is so useful, so versatile, it’s like the little black dress of stretches: You can do it as a warmup, as a cool-down, as a recovery break between sets; you can do it when you’re feeling great, or when your back hurts. If it’s one you’ve tried but mostly overlooked, though, I get it: You’re just sticking out your belly and then arching your back — what’s the big deal?

The deal is…


Monday Move

Go back to basics for your body and brain

Illustration: Jaedoo Lee for Elemental

I had a big and difficult decision to make last week, and as the little bubble of anxiety in my gut grew bigger and bubblier as the deadline approached, I could just feel it in every cell: I had to move. I was accomplishing absolutely nothing by refreshing Twitter and checking for new Slack DMs, and my body knew my only option was to expel the nervous energy on a walk.

I downloaded a calming playlist, set off on a brisk pace, and spent a few minutes just moving fast, breathing deeply, and doing a body scan to tap into…


Monday Move

Don’t @ me

Sometimes, you just need to go ahead and do the sucky thing: Tell people the news they don’t want to hear. Make the tough decision. Put that beloved toy that sings the creepy song out on the sidewalk while your toddler is napping.

Blast the death metal and do the goddamn burpees.

Hear me out: Yes, burpees suck, but if you’re physically able to do them (and willing to get sweaty and exhausted), they are also… the best. When you get into a rhythm of slamming yourself down on the floor and getting right back TF up again, the intensity…


MONDAY MOVE

Sick of the snap, crackle, pop? Try this small but powerful tweak.

A young, Asian woman performing a squat exercise with a resistance band
A young, Asian woman performing a squat exercise with a resistance band
Photo: Kilito Chan/Getty Images

A funny thing happened approximately five minutes after I turned 34: My knees turned into Rice Krispies. I’ve been fit and active for most of my adult life — including plenty of squats, which I maintain everyone who can sit and stand should be doing regularly — so this sudden sign of joint aging took me by surprise. I soon learned that crackling, popping sounds in a joint are called crepitus (I’m choosing to ignore the extremely rude fact that that word sounds kind of like “decrepit”), and thankfully, if they’re not accompanied by actual pain, they’re pretty harmless.

Still…


Monday Move

Is your butt dead? This move will bring it back to life.

I once worked out with a running coach who said that a huge chunk (scientific, I know!) of running injuries could be attributed to “dead butt” syndrome. It’s a real thing, and a diagnosis many runners have heard from sports medicine doctors and physical therapists. Here’s what happens: For those of us who spend much of our day seated, our gluteus medius muscles weaken. Over time they sort of “forget” how to switch on, which they need to do in order to keep our pelvis stable and our spine in proper alignment. For runners especially, this imbalance can force other…


Pandemic Reflections

The pandemic got me stuck in emergency mode. Here’s how an actual emergency-room visit snapped me out of it.

Photo: vm/Getty Images

If you’re not a working parent, let me share a Cliff’s Notes version of what it feels like (to me, anyway) in normal times: You figure out your life down to the minute. You find the best and most convenient childcare you can afford. You arrange your commute around this childcare. You can no longer arrive early or stay late at work, so you stay rigidly on task (burnout-spaciness days aside) and dash for the elevators the moment the clock strikes five. You curse traffic or stalled subway trains and school breaks. You fly into rooms breathlessly apologizing for being…


MONDAY MOVE

You’ll be so glad you tried this

Photography: Andi Elloway

I was not an active kid — always picked last for dodgeball teams, terribly uncoordinated, self-conscious about my knobbly knees in gym shorts. In eighth grade, I broke my pinkie finger playing kickball (figure that one out). But in my twenties, a pathetic-sounding reason arose to kickstart me into a regular exercise routine: I kept throwing out my back. A weird stretch after too much time on the couch, a sudden turn of the head, even a sneeze could do it. …


This is wonderful, Jada. And I love that your mom was giving much-needed edits to her textbooks!


Why ‘uncertainty of safety’ is driving your brain bananas right now

Photo: Jessica Tan/Unsplash

After a year of terrifying news, we’re finally seeing some lights at the end of the tunnel: three(!) vaccines; almost 70 million doses already administered; a new administration that seems to actually listen to scientists. But it’s also clear that the scary times are far from over: New mutations of SARS-CoV-2 are circulating (not unusual for a virus but still concerning); folks in some of the most vulnerable groups aren’t getting nearly enough priority in the vaccine distribution process; and after promising declines, cases are rising again in the U.S. and around the world.

If this push-pull of good and…


Monday Move

No time for a whole yoga session? Give this a shot instead.

Animation by Alexandre Luu for Elemental

I am tense right now. There’s a lot going on, the stakes feel high, and the only way out is through — but what that journey looks like IRL is me, sitting in front of my computer almost all day (I do take occasional standing or balance-board breaks!), with my head slowly but surely making its way toward my keyboard as I get more and more exhausted and overwhelmed.

Getting my heart rate up when I can is helping with the general vibe, but my upper back and neck still feel like they’re on the brink of disaster most of…

Anna Maltby

Editor and writer. Past: Elemental, Real Simple, Refinery29, SELF. Certified personal trainer; prenatal and postnatal exercise specialist. Cat & person mom.

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