Relieve stress instantly with this simple 3-minute stretching routine: 'Feel better in no time'


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Nearly half of Americans frequently experience stress, according to a recent Gallup poll — and if the condition goes unchecked, it can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and other medical problems.

There are some simple ways to reduce the impact of stress — starting with stretching.

“Your muscles tend to contract and tighten when you are stressed, which causes all sorts of aches and pains,” Walter Gjergja, the Switzerland-based co-founder and chief wellness officer at Zing Coach, a personalized fitness app, said in a statement sent to Fox News Digital.

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Stretching elongates and relaxes the muscles, relieving built-up tension, according to Gjergja. 

“It also increases blood flow to your muscles, delivering oxygen and nutrients while removing metabolic waste from your body — and any soreness and stiffness with it,” he said. 

Walter Gjergja, the Switzerland-based co-founder and chief wellness officer at Zing Coach, has created a simple three-minute stretching routine exclusively for Fox News Digital. (Walter Gjergja)

Gjergja, who is trained in mindfulness and meditation, has created a simple three-minute stretching routine exclusively for Fox News Digital.

A GUIDE TO BASIC STRETCHING FOR BETTER OVERALL HEALTH

“When you feel your stress levels rising, don’t sit and wait for your muscles to tighten up,” he said. “A few minutes of stretching is often all you need.”

7 stretches to relieve stress and tension

Hold each exercise for 20 to 30 seconds before switching sides or moving on to the next one, Gjergja advised.

1. Neck stretch

Gently tilt your head to one side, bringing your ear toward your shoulder until you feel a stretch in the side of your neck.

01 Neck stretch

For the neck stretch, gently tilt your head to one side, bringing your ear toward your shoulder until you feel a stretch in the side of your neck. (Walter Gjergja)

2. Shoulder stretch

Bring one arm across your body and use your other hand to gently press it closer to your chest until you feel a stretch in your shoulder.

02 Shoulder stretch

For the shoulder stretch, bring one arm across your body and use your other hand to gently press it closer to your chest until you feel a stretch in your shoulder. (Walter Gjergja)

3. Cat/cobra stretch

Start in a push-up position with your wrists parallel to your shoulders. Take a deep breath and lift your head, shoulders and stomach to the sky while keeping your pelvis flat on the ground. Hold, giving your spine a chance to stretch.

07 Cat cobra stretch 1

Start in a push-up position with your wrists parallel to your shoulders. Take a deep breath and lift your head, shoulders and stomach to the sky while keeping your pelvis flat on the ground. (Walter Gjergja)

Next, exhale, pulling your upper body into a tabletop position and arching your back. 

Spend a few minutes flowing between these two poses, synchronizing each movement with your breath.

07 Cat cobra stretch 2

Next, exhale, pulling your upper body into a tabletop position and arching your back.  (Walter Gjergja)

4. Spinal twist

Sit on the floor and extend your legs out in front of you. Bend one knee and cross it over the opposite leg, placing the foot flat on the floor. 

Twist your torso toward the bent knee, using the opposite arm to hug it close to your body.

04 Spinal twist 2

Sit on the floor and extend your legs out in front of you. Bend one knee and cross it over the opposite leg, placing the foot flat on the floor. Twist your torso toward the bent knee, using the opposite arm to hug it close to your body. (Walter Gjergja)

5. Forward fold

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hinge forward at your hips, allowing your upper body to hang down toward the floor.

05 Forward fold

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hinge forward at your hips, allowing your upper body to hang down toward the floor. (Walter Gjergja)

6. Hips and posterior chain stretch

Sit and create an L shape with the legs. 

While pressing the folded knee toward the ground, open the hip and reach forward to the outstretched leg.

03 Spinal twist 1

Sit and create an L shape with the legs. While pressing the folded knee towards the ground, open the hip and reach forward to the outstretched leg. (Walter Gjergja)

7. Kneeling quad stretch​

Start in a kneeling position with your legs pressed together, sitting on the heels of your feet.

Place your hands behind you, parallel with your shoulders, then lean back and push your hips forward while keeping your buttocks firmly on your heels.

08 Kneeling quad stretch

Start in a kneeling position with your legs pressed together, sitting on the heels of your feet. Place your hands behind you, parallel with your shoulders, then lean back and push your hips forward while keeping your buttocks firmly on your heels. (Walter Gjergja)

4 pro tips for more effective, enjoyable stretching

“What’s good for the body is usually good for the mind,” said Gjergja. 

“Stretching offers a rare reprieve from your thoughts, reducing the cortisol that typically builds up when you’re stressed.”

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“It also stimulates the release of endorphins — happiness hormones — that will help you to feel happier and healthier.”

“What’s good for the body is usually good for the mind.”

To help you get the most out of your stretching session, the wellness expert offered the following tips.

1. Don’t hold your breath

Breathe fully and focus solely on the inhalations and exhalations, rather than any worries in the back of your mind.

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2. Don’t rush

If you experience muscle pain, Gjergja recommends slowing down and using a smaller range of motion, gradually increasing it as the tension releases.

3. Remember to hydrate

A sip of water between each exercise can prevent creaky joints, the expert said.

4. Relax

Approach stretching as you would meditation. Gjergja suggests putting on some calming music and focusing on your body, not your thoughts.

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After completing these stretches, Gjergja said, “Your body and mind will be feeling better in no time.”

“A tense mind cannot ‘live’ in a relaxed body — therefore, by reducing physical tensions, we induce simultaneous mental relaxation.”



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