Bridge to Wellness

March – Relieving stress

by Gary Hicks

March 2021 and we’re inching closer to spring.  We have been stuck in the house, for the most part, due to weather issues and restrictions. Now is a good time to address how we can relieve a little stress.

Stress is basically the body’s reaction to change. When something occurs that causes a person to alter the way they normally function, any adjustments made could cause emotional and/or physical tension. This tension could manifest itself in the form of agitation, frustration, or anger.  If stress is left un-addressed for extended periods, it could lead to serious health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes.

Exercise is a very good way to relieve some forms of stress.  It elevates the heart rate, and releases endorphins into the brain. Endorphins are hormones which make you feel a sense of joy and pleasure. They are often referred to as the “happy hormones.” Scientists believe that it only takes about 30 minutes of exercise per day, 5 days per week, to get stress-relieving benefits. There is no need to work out till you drop. Some of the best exercises are walking, jogging, bike riding, dancing, swimming, and aerobic activities.

Monthly Fitness Challenge: For the month of March, walk for 1 mile Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Perform the routine below on Tuesday and Thursday.

One time through this routine equals 1 set. Perform 3 sets allowing 2-3 minutes rest between each set. Use light weights for the arm curls and shoulder press.  If you do not have weights, use books, water bottles, or shoes.

  1. 1 minute – March in place. Make sure to let your arms swing.  Step lightly, trying not to stomp your feet.  This will help to protect your joints.
  2.  1  minute – Bicep curls (With a weight in each hand, rest elbows at your sides. Keeping the elbows at your sides, bend your arms bringing the weight towards the shoulders.  Lower the weight back to the start position)
  3.  1 minute – Shoulder press (Hold the weights by your shoulders with your palms facing forward. Push the weight upward and above your head.  Slowly return to the start position.)
  4.  30 seconds – Seated flutter kicks (reference February ab exercises)
  5.  30 seconds – Chair squats (Stand in front of chair with feet out wide. Slowly lower to the seated position then slowly rise back to the standing position – Repeat for 30 seconds)
  6.  30 seconds – Calf raises (While standing, hold on to a chair or wall for balance and slowly lift heels off the floor so that you are standing on the balls of your feet. Slowly lower heels back to the floor) – Repeat this movement for 30 seconds


Be sure to let others know how you are progressing by commenting on our Facebook page at

This column is sponsored by the Stockbridge Area Wellness Coalition. Check out for more info. The intention of introducing new workouts each month is to give variety and reduce boredom.  Introducing multiple techniques and exercises lets you latch on to what you enjoy. Remember, if you have health challenges that could hamper your ability to exercise, check with your doctor before taking on a new exercise regimen.

Author Gary A. Hicks, a veteran police sergeant with a passion for fitness, has over 35 years of experience in teaching, coaching, martial arts instruction, and police academy instruction.

Upcoming wellness coalition-sponsored programs open to all:

  • Winter Warm Up program sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield & Playmakers and brought to Stockbridge in conjunction with the Stockbridge Library and SAWC. The eight-week program includes at least one weekly zoom session & daily workout calendar. Online sessions start in February and run weekly through March finishing with a 5K Fun Run/Walk event at Hawk Island Park on March 28, 2021.  Learn more and register at
  • Practical Cooking with a Pro – class taught by Jackie Scheller and organized by Stockbridge Community Outreach to help students learn how to cook delicious, economical and satisfying meals and learn some marketable kitchen skills. Free, but space is limited.  Call Outreach at 517-851-7285 to register.  Next session starts April 12 and meets weekly on Monday afternoons or evenings for six weeks.
  • Open Air Market of Stockbridge’s Indoor Market is on March 13, featuring 8 vendors.

11 am to 2 pm at Back Street Building, 118 N. Center, Stockbridge. (Another sale is planned for April 10). Open Air Market returns to the Stockbridge town square Friday, May 7, 4 – 7pm.

  • Powerful Tools for Caregivers free workshop via Zoom, Thursday, April 15 – May 20, 2021, 1 – 2:30pm. To register, call Tri-County Office on Aging at 517-887-1465 or e-mail Christine at Focuses on self-care, decision-making, and dealing with your own feelings of anger, guilt and depression. This workshop is funded by SAWC and the 5 Healthy Towns Foundation.
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