Release stress, gain energy and look slimmer while waiting in those dang Costco

Perhaps I should have said WinCo rather than Costco.

I hear the lines at those grand openings have come close to making it into the Guinness Book of World Records. The infamous lines combined with two children under the age of five is why I have yet to set foot inside one.

No matter where you shop or what you’re shopping for, chances are you’ve spent more than your fair share of time in line—and often with a child or two (or three) in tow. I find a trip to Costco at lunchtime causes my shoulders to hunch, my teeth to clench and my blood pressure to rise. My impeccable timing means I’m there at rush hour (i.e., lunch time and/or Saturdays) so I have plenty of time to kill while the carts in front of me unload their cases of bottled water, bags of rolls and impulse buys thanks to the sample ladies.

If you often find yourself in this situation then you have ample opportunity for a few simple moves that will do as this post’s title says: help you release stress; give you a little extra energy; make you look slimmer and taller. The moves? A handful of exercises aimed at improving your posture (no textbook balancing act required). Yes, others might wonder what the heck you’re doing rolling your shoulders and doing a few side bends, but I figure those watching will think one of two things:

  • You’re warming up your muscles to do multiple reps of 16 pounds per arm (1 gallon of milk x 2 gallons per box x 8 pounds per gallon = 16 pounds).
  • Your yoga-like moves are keeping you centered…and keeping you from taking a Costco-size roll of duct tape and duct taping your children to the cart AFTER you’ve duct taped their mouths shut.

Though the second scenario is actually highly likely, it doesn’t matter what people think. Your posture is important and there’s no time like a long wait in line to work on it. Here are a few easy moves you can do, and if you’re too self-conscious to do them in public (or already have great control over your stress level), make sure you take a few minutes to run through them after you’re done hauling in a year’s supply of spinach leaves, toilet paper and shampoo when you get home.

P.S. These exercises are also perfect for those who find themselves sitting at a computer for hours on end. You don’t want to end up like this guy. He has a serious posture problem—probably caused by a recent trip to WinCo:

Exercise #1: Shoulder roll

This is a more serious and intense version of the shoulder shrug you give your kids when they ask if you’ve seen their homework (not to be confused with the eye roll).

  1. Inhale and raise your shoulders and shoulder blades as high as you can toward your ears.
  2. Exhaling and roll your shoulder blades back and down, squeezing them together behind you.
  3. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

Exercise #2: Standing side bend

This posture exercise is a little more obvious than the shoulder roll but could easily be mistaken for an attempt to read the ingredients on a sideways box of Nature ValleyOats ‘N Honey crunchy granola bars.

  1. With your left hand, lightly touch the left side of your head.
  2. Make sure both feet are solidly planted on the ground, slightly bend your knees and gently guide your head to the right until you feel a stretch along the left side of your body and shoulder.
  3. Take three deep breaths and switch sides.

Exercise #3: Chest expansion

No, not that kind of chest expansion. This one is probably the most noticeable of the three so you may get a few strange looks, but it sure does feel good! Just have your kids do it with you; then it looks like you’re simply entertaining them until you can race to the food window and buy them the promised berry smoothie and churro.

  1. Raise your arms out to the side just below shoulder height with your palms facing forward, fingers together.
  2. Without moving your arms, exhale and slowly turn your hand so your fingers point slightly behind you. (Your palms should now be angled out to the side.)
  3. Take three deep breaths. Or take five if the line is really, really long.

And don’t forget the great little posture exercise you can do while driving, which I threw into my “Try some calisthenics while you carpool” post. Though not as quick and easy as these exercises, both yoga and ballet are great ways to improve posture and strengthen your core muscles. After a session of yoga I swear I’m two inches taller—and that’s without my favorite stilettos!

First image from Barnard College Archives.

Second image by joelogon, shared via Flickr.

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