Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Work Time Work Out

What relieves stress? Aside from chucking it all, cashing out your retirement plan and heading to a tropical isle, experts agree that the best stress reliever is exercise. “[Exercise] affects the biology in the brain in the same way that anti-depressant drugs do,” says Andrea Dunn, exercise psychologist at the Cooper Institute. As we jog, bike or lift weights the stress hormone cortisol decreases and endorphins increase. VoilĂ , we feel better.

How does a stufessional squeeze in an exercise routine while studying, writing papers, reading, excelling at work, keeping up with friends, fulfilling family obligations, running errands and eating well? If hitting the gym before, after or during work is not feasible, consider chair exercising.

Chair exercising may not be as intense as an hour at the gym, but any exercise is better than none, and the positive effects are cumulative. Here are a few of the best chair exercises:
  • Sitting in your chair, lift one leg off the seat, extend it out straight, hold for 2 seconds; then lower your foot (stop short of the floor) and hold for several seconds. Switch; do each leg 15 times.

  • Place a small pillow between your feet. Try to lift the item off the ground and squeeze your legs together at the same time. You can also place the pillow or other soft object between your knees and squeeze. Repeat 15 times.

  • While seated, pump both arms over your head for 30 seconds, then rapidly tap your feet on the floor, football-drill style, for 30 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times.

  • Isometric contractions are easily performed in a seated position. Squeezing your muscle, hold the contraction for a few seconds, then release. Repeat each muscle 15 times.

Make every minute count. "Stand rather than sit. Walk rather than stand," says Joan Price, author of "The Anytime, Anywhere Exercise Book." Make the trek to a colleague's office instead of instant messaging. When you take the stairs, give your legs a workout by consciously employing every muscle. Park in the furthest space and enjoy a brisk walk. Take every opportunity you can to decrease cortisol, increase endorphins and de-stress.


WebMD's "Exercise at Your Desk"
eHow's "How to Exercise at Your Office"
Associated Content's "Top 10 Ways to Relieve Stress"
Mayo Clinic's "Exercise: Rev Up Your Routine to Reduce Stress"
The Cooper Institute

The information provided on this site is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any exercise program.

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