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2/9/08 2:18 P

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Squeezing Your Stress Away
Stress Ball: The Anytime Exercise Equipment
-- By Liz Noelcke, Staff Writer
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What if we told you that itís possible to work out and relieve stress at the same time? And that itís easy, requires little concentration and wonít cause you to break a sweat? Or that by consistently using this hand-held object, you will notice an increase in strength?

Youíd probably respond, "Whatís this magic device?" Well, itís not the mirror on the wall or Jackís bean stalk. We present to you the stress ball, a palm-sized rubber ball filled with beans or seeds or another similar object. Stress balls come with a short instruction manual: you just squeeze. Over and over.

How they benefit you is simple. When you squeeze, the muscles not only contract in your hand, but up your arm as well. Hold the squeeze for a second or two and then release. As your muscles relax, the tension will leave your arms and hands, thereby relieving stress. Itís a great way to take out your frustration.

There are numerous benefits besides just relieving stress. Youíll improve hand strength and dexterity. Even if youíre not a professional athlete that needs to grab a basketball like a magnet, youíll type more efficiently and grip and grab things easier. Stress balls also stimulate blood circulation and can help to reduce arthritic pain and stiffness. Just by squeezing a simple ball!

So take a ball with you in your purse or briefcase. When youíre talking on the phone at work, instead of doodling on that new proposal you just printed, distract your hands with a stress ball. Have a few minutes to kill? Squeeze away. Trying to stay awake in a meeting? Youíd be surprised how effective these can be at boosting your attention level. And if youíre relaxing in front of the TV, why not use it then? Maybe even try one in each hand.

Next time youíre feeling overwhelmed at work or home, instead of losing your temper or breaking down in tears, take a second, take a few deep breaths and exercise with your stress ball. Use it each day as a stress management tool; it can go just about anywhere that you can.

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