By Ashley Lemke
Stress is with us when we wake up, accompanies us into the office, and rides us piggyback when we’re at home trying to unwind. If we go extended periods of time without playing out our stress, it takes a major toll on our bodies, brains and overall health, interfering with our ability to perform our best at work and home. When we Play It Out (short bursts of intense physical activity that mimic the flight-or-flight response) we not only rid ourselves of harmful stress hormones and build resiliency, but we also get fit in the process.
When we Play It Out, our bodies release chemicals that:
- make us feel good
- create new neurons in the brain
- minimize pain
- increase cognitive function
- boost immunity
- enhance our health and sleep
- build a stress-resistant brain
- calm us down
MORE GOOD NEWS: You don’t need large chunks of time to reap the benefits of playing it out. Short burst interval training with built-in resistance is one of the most effective ways of improving resiliency as well as burning the most fat and calories. Interval training trains the body to recover more quickly from stress and raises the trigger point at which our body decides something is stressful. Our threshold for stress increases, and we can handle more before we freak out.
Check out these easy 3-minute workouts that will rid you of stress and improve your fitness:
Play It Out #1:
60 seconds Bicycle Crunches: Lie flat on your back and bring your knees up to perpendicular to ground. Extend the right leg, pull left knee towards chest, bring right elbow close to left knee, crunching to side. Repeat on other side. Keep alternating.
60 seconds Split Lunges: Start in a wide lunge stance, one leg forward and one leg back. Lower into lunge, jump up, switch legs back and forth.
60 seconds Supermans: Lie on stomach with arms extended forward, while looking down at floor (neutral spine). Lift arms and chest off floor, stretch forward through fingertips, lower down and repeat.
Play It Out #2
60 seconds Squat Jumps: Stand with feet hip width apart, lower hips into squat position, weight back and knees behind toes. Jump into air and land back into squat position, repeat.
60 seconds of Triceps Push-Ups: Begin in push-up position and place hands together on floor to form a triangle in the space between your thumbs and first fingers. Lower down and press up, keeping the core engaged and the spine in a straight line.
30 seconds Hill Climbers: Begin at top of push-up position and place right foot forward. Keeping hands on floor, simultaneously jump left foot forward and right foot back. Keep climbing!
30 seconds of Oblique Crunches: Lie on back with knees bent, feet on floor, hands behind head. Lift left shoulder up toward right hip, then lower down to center (keeping shoulders off floor and abs engaged). Repeat to other side and continue to alternate.
Play It Out #3
60 seconds Burpees: Place hands on floor, step or jump back to push-up position. Do 1 push-up. Step or jump feet back to hands. Stand up and repeat.
60 seconds Push-up/Side Plank: Start in push-up position, perform push-up. Bring bodyweight over to right arm, open body to left and stretch left arm to ceiling. Keep spine in a straight line. Come back to center, perform another push-up, then do side plank on the other side. Keep alternating.
60 seconds Nordic Ski Race: Begin with right foot forward, left foot back. Bend both knees, jump into air, switch legs and land softly with knees slightly bent. Do it again. Again. Again! Swing arms forward and back for more intensity.