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The 15-Minute De-Stress Workout

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Your De-Stress Routine

What you'll need:

  • A watch with a second hand
  • A mat or carpeted surface

Do each exercise series for 5 to 6 minutes; repeat once. For the final 3 to 5 minutes, sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with eyes closed and breathe deeply.

Step 1: Reverse Plank to Lower-Back Stretch

Strengthens chest, back, and arms; stretches arms, lower back, hips and glutes.

  • Sit with hands on floor next to hips, fingers forward and palms flat, with legs extended and chest arched toward ceiling.
  • Press into feet, lifting hips as high as you can; hold for 30 seconds.
  • Lie back and hug knees into chest; rock gently through the hips for 30 seconds.

Step 2: Elbow Plank to Prone Press-Up

Strengthens and stretches shoulders, back, and core.

  • Begin in plank position, palms and forearms on floor with elbows under shoulders and arms parallel, legs extended behind you, forming a straight line from head to heels.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, keeping abs tight.
  • Lower body to floor, then lift abs and chest, arching upper back; hold for 30 seconds.

Step 3: Plié to Full Seated Bend

Strengthens shoulders, hips, and thighs; stretches shoulders, back, and thighs.

  • Stand in plié position, feet shoulder-width apart and turned out.
  • Lift arms overhead in a wide V position.
  • Bend knees 90 degrees, keeping knees aligned with toes; pulse up and down 2 inches for 30 seconds.
  • Sit with legs extended, hip-width apart.
  • Hinge forward from hips and grasp feet or shins.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, breathing deeply.

Step 4: Front Lunge to Forward Elbow Fold

Strengthens upper back and thighs; stretches shoulders, lower back, and hamstrings.

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart and lunge forward with left leg; keep left knee aligned over ankle.
  • Raise hands overhead, palms facing each other. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on other side.
  • Return to start, feet hip-width apart with knees slightly bent.
  • Hinge forward from hips; grasp opposite elbows and hang for 20 to 30 seconds.

Step 5: Side Elbow Plank to Overhead Reach

Strengthens and stretches shoulders, arms, core, and obliques.

  • Lie on left side, hips stacked and elbow on floor under shoulder, right arm extended toward ceiling, right foot staggered in front of left.
  • Lift hips, balancing on lower arm and edges of feet.
  • Hold for 20 seconds.
  • Lower hip to floor and arc right arm overhead, reaching for 20 seconds.
  • Switch sides; repeat.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, December 2007.

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