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Got 20 minutes? Have a no-sweat workout

By Liz Sinclair, Contributing writer
Published On: Apr 10 2012 02:08:41 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 19 2013 01:01:01 AM CDT
woman at gym

©iStockphoto.com/(Thomas_EyeDesign)

Many health experts suggest that even if a person only has 15 or 20 minutes in the day to exercise they can still find time for fitness and stress reduction in a busy, hectic day without needing to head to the gym or the park.

Dr. Brenda Reeves, the wellness coordinator at Ashland University, advises people to get creative about building exercise into their normal routine.

"Whenever possible, physically walk over to deliver a message or mail instead of using e-mail or routed office mail," she says. "Take the stairs and avoid using an elevator. Every time you go to the bathroom, take a short walk around the department or office floor. Have a list of simple desk stretches right by your computer. Every hour, take a few minutes to stretch."

Health author Susan Schenck recommends doing some basic yoga in spare minutes at home or at the office.

"This doesn't create sweat and helps calm the mind and limber up the body," she says.

Some basic poses, she says, can be lotus (or close to it) with spine flexes, downward dog going back and forth into cobra, the shoulder stand and the tree pose.

Another benefit of even short periods of exercise is stress reduction.

Debbie Mandel, a fitness and stress management expert, says, "Short bursts of exercise have a cumulative effect, especially for stress management.

"Ten minutes of exercise here and there will lower blood pressure throughout the day."

Taking a break from work for even a few minutes can help you feel better and increase your energy level," says Kara Smith, Special Programs Coordinator for the Loyola Center for Fitness.

Smith designed a series of exercises that allow people to work out in three main fitness categories -- cardiovascular, strength and flexibility -- in an office, workplace or at home.

For cardiovascular fitness, she suggests standing whenever possible, because it opens the front of the hips. She also suggests a brief walk around your office to increase energy and blood flow as you raise your heart rate.

Other ways to get things pumping including jumping an imaginary rope, doing jumping jacks or marching in place. You can also shuffle side to side with feet shoulder-width apart.

She suggests several ways to build strength.

For the legs, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Sink your hips back as if sitting in a chair. Hold, and then return to standing.

For the arms, shoulders and chest, sit in a chair and place your hands on the arms. Use your arms to lift yourself off the seat and then lower. Aim for 15 repetitions.

If you have a tall chair, you can sit down and straighten one leg. Hold it for two seconds. That will work on the muscles around your knee.

To improve flexibility, sit in a chair and reach both arms overhead, stretching them back. Hold for 10 seconds. You can also grab one wrist with the other hand and stretch to the side for 10 seconds.

You can also hold your arms in front of you and gently circle your wrists in both a clockwise and counterclockwise motion. Stretch your hands by making fists then opening them as wide as you can.

Finally, release neck tension by sitting tall in your chair. Release your right shoulder down, you can even sit on your right hand, and tilt your head so your left ear is going towards your left shoulder. Hold for 15 seconds, switch sides.

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