Holiday Stress-Busting Moves You Can Do Anytime (cont.)

We know what you're thinking: How on earth can you find time to head for the gym at the most stressful times when you're already scheduled to the max? Those are the perfect times to take a mini-stress break.

Here are a few do-anywhere moves that will help get your heart rate up and your stress level down:

1. Take a hike. "Walk to the water cooler," says Durkin. "Get out of your chair and get your legs moving for a few minutes at a brisk pace."

"Instead of driving around the mall parking lot for 10 minutes looking for that great parking space, save your time, gas money, and health by taking the furthest spot in the lot," suggests Pittsley. "There is nothing like a brisk walk to get your legs moving and heart pumping."

2. Make your lunch break count. "If you have a half-hour lunch, spend 20 minutes of it exercising, and then grab your lunch and eat it at your desk," says Durkin. "You'll feel a lot better in the afternoon after you exercise."

3. HUP, two, three, four. "You might want to close your door before you start, but march in place," says Durkin. "Do high marches to really get your blood going."

4. Chair squats. When you're sitting in your office after a stressful encounter with the boss, chair squats are a quick and easy way to release some energy.

"Activate the large muscles in your legs by doing a set of 10 squats," says Pittsley. "To do this, simply find a chair and slowly lower yourself until your behind slightly touches the chair. Finally, raise yourself back up slowly."

After a set or two, you should feel ready for another round with the boss (or whoever is stressing you out).

Choose Your Weapon

When it comes to stress busting, the bottom line is to do whatever works best for you.

"There's no magic pill. Whatever people enjoy doing is great," says Durkin. "Whether it is power walking, running, Pilates, yoga, or weights, the most important thing is that people carve out three to four times a week when they can exercise for 20-30 minutes and really get their heart rates up to reduce the negative effects of stress and anxiety."

Originally published Dec. 9, 2004.
Medically updated December 2006.


SOURCES: Todd Durkin, spokesman, American Council on Exercise. Jesse Pittsley, PhD, spokesperson, American Society for Exercise Physiologists; assistant professor, Winston-Salem State University, Winston-Salem, N.C. Eugene Walker, author, Learn to Relax: Proven Techniques for Reducing Stress, Tension, and Anxiety -- and Promoting Peak Performance; professor of psychology, University of Oklahoma.

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