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4 Stress-Busting Moves You Can Do Anytime

Got a few minutes? Take a break from holiday hassles.

Chill Out With Cardio continued...

"All exercise is good, but aerobic exercise is the best when it comes to stress reduction because it does increase oxygen circulation and generally uses the body more effectively and efficiently," says Walker. "Aerobic exercise also produces endorphins, which is a natural chemical similar to morphine that is released in the brain during strenuous exercise."

Endorphins produce a feeling of happiness, thereby reducing stress.

"For maximal endorphin benefit, you should be doing at least 30 minutes of exercise three to four times a week at 60%-80% percent of your maximum heart rate," says Todd Durkin, a spokesman for the American Council on Exercise.

More Stressless Exercises

But cardio isn't the only type of exercise that can ease stress. Mind-body exercises, like yoga and tai chi, are also great stress relievers.

"While they don't get your heart rate up like cardio, they absolutely reduce the effects of stress, such as short and shallow breathing, by focusing on deep breathing and calming exercises," says Durkin, the 2004 IDEA personal trainer of the year.

The thousands of people around the country who practice these calming techniques can probably vouch for their benefits.

"Although exercises like yoga, Pilates, and tai chi may not produce enough lactic acid to induce a significant endorphin release, this does not hinder their effectiveness," says Pittsley. "These exercises increase strength, flexibility, balance control, and induce numerous psychological benefits."

Add strength training to the mix, and you've got a well-rounded way to tackle stress.

"Whether with ... weights or rubber cords, strength training helps your metabolism, it helps you tone, and it's a great outlet for releasing stress. It's very therapeutic and challenging for your body," says Durkin.

4 Easy Ways to Ease Stress

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."

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