Beat stress by staying in shape during busy season

We all know that one of the best ways to relieve stress and tension is with exercise. The Anxiety Disorders Association of America states that exercise is considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. ADAA reports that scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.

Research, published last year in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, performed by researchers at the University of Bristol, UK, is the first of its kind to prove that exercise during work hours has mental as well as physical benefits. The Bristol researchers determined that better work habits go hand-in-hand with exercise.

 

  • 72% of the participants in the Bristol study showed improvements in time management on days when they exercised.
     
  • 79 % said mental and interpersonal performance was better on days when they exercised.
     
  • 74 % said they managed their workload better on days when they exercised.

Furthermore, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has determined that job stress can lead to poor health and even injury. But how do you squeeze in exercise time when you're chained to your desk?

Some quick tips for getting easy exercise while working in an office include the following:

 

  • Park your car at the far end of the lot
     
  • Use stairs instead of elevators
     
  • Find excuses to get up and walk - hand deliver reports, discuss issues in person instead of sending e-mail to the person down the hall

The Campbell's (the soup people!) Center for Nutrition and Wellness offers these suggestions:

 

  • Wear comfy shoes to work
     
  • Drink plenty of water (and get up frequently to refill your cup at the water cooler)
     
  • Eat lunch away from your desk - even if it just means walking to the break room
     
  • Take a break - walk around the block or up and down the stairs
     
  • Get a phone head-set or use the speaker so you won't cradle the phone between your shoulder and chin
     
  • Sit up straight in your chair

There are many Web sites that offer suggests for exercises that can be done right at your desk. Several of the exercises noted below are geared specifically toward areas of the body that are affected by sitting long hours at a desk.

An article found on About.com explains several exercises that can be done right in your desk chair, including:

 

  • Stretches for your wrists and arms
     
  • Lower body exercises
     
  • Chair exercises
     
  • Upper body exercises

Backhealth.net presents exercises that get right to the core of desk-related stress. Their exercises help you to:

 

  • Relieve low backache & pressure
     
  • Relieve upper back and shoulder tension
     
  • Relieve back, neck and shoulder tension
     
  • Relieve wrist tension and stiffness
     
  • Relieve neck and shoulder tension
     
  • Relax shoulder, back and hip muscles

The Campbell's group offers some instructions for office yoga you can do at your desk, including overhead stretches, shoulder lifts, and even doing the twist!

Related article:

 

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