We're so pressured with responsibilities—work, personal life, community activities—that we often get tied up in physical and mental knots just trying to get through an average day.
Richard Cotton, MA, chief exercise physiologist with myexerciseplan.com in Carlsbad, CA, and a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise, suggests the terrific stress-busters below. They take only a minute or two each, can be done almost anywhere and don't need fancy equipment:
- Stand up. Put your fists on your lower back at the beltline, with your elbows pointing back.
- Keep your legs fairly straight and arch your shoulders back.
- Press your fists lightly into your lower back and your head will go back.
- Blow out. As you do, imagine you are blowing out the stress of the day. "We tend to hold stress in our lower back," Mr. Cotton says.
- Sit in a chair.
- Inhale as you push your heels down into the floor. Push your back into the seatback of the chair.
- Hold that tension for a moment, then relax and exhale.
- Inhale again and squeeze the thigh muscles tight. Hold, then relax and exhale.
- Place your palms together in front of you. Inhale as you push them in, then relax and exhale.
- Breathe in as you tighten your abdominal muscles, pushing your lower back into the chair.
- Blow out as you release the muscles and relax.
- If you have time, you can continue this exercise with other muscle groups.
- Place your fingertips on your chin.
- Inhale as you push your chin in and tilt your head forward.
- Exhale as you release your chin and relax your muscles. Mr. Cotton recommends this as a good stretch for the neck that helps release tension.