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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Sedentary no more!

Update : 19 Oct 2015, 03:19 AM

As you read this, I’m guessing you possibly are seated on a chair by your computer, or peering into your smartphone, or perhaps hunched up over a newspaper. If I were you, I would straighten my lower back, lift the ribcage and turn your chin up slightly before commencing onto the next sentence. Why? Because you breathe much better, have much more energy and are a smarter thinker when your posture is better, and this is super helpful if you happen to be caught up in a sedentary life.

Many of us, unfortunately, are shackled to stressful jobs that require a lot of sitting. Work aside, living in the busy city, we spend a great amount of time waiting in traffic and when out socialising we are again sitting, worse, consuming great or small amounts of trans-fats and caffeine!

This is the life? Think again!

Most of us spend half of our waking hours sitting – working or watching TV. Extended periods of sitting (and laziness) have been known to invite deadly diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity into the body.

In the yoga world, we say sitting too much depletes the energy at the pelvic floor or muladhara chakra and makes one dull and lazy.

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Here are some ideas to battle against the state of sedentary:

At the workplace, each hour, spend 20 minutes standing without shoes and working at the desk. Friday snooze button aside, I am a big fan of setting alarms. So set one up and google how to create a standing workstation. Make sure the boss isn’t around.

Stand up to answer phone calls – you sound more confident too. Suck in your stomach as you do this.

When sitting in your chair, check your spine alignment. Chances are, the lower back is slumped and people frequently sit on top of their tailbones as opposed to the sit bones (the bones in your butt). I like to use a little cushion behind my lower back as a prop, both in the car and in chairs. Maybe this is how I never run out of energy.

If you use a computer, keep your neck, shoulder, wrists and elbows relaxed. Relax the jaw and eyes too.

Keep moving the legs up and down under the desk to keep the blood flowing and keep your quads strong. I love ankle rotations and flexing/ spreading the toes. The idea is to keep moving and this allows the energy to flow. Wrist, shoulder and neck rotations are great too.

Drink lots of water and don’t get so caught up in work that you forget to take frequent bathroom breaks.

Deep breathing steady breathing can calm you in times of stress or pressure while yogic breathing exercises such as kapalbhati will instantly give you a rush of energy and wakefulness as would a cup of coffee. The amazing part is that it costs you nothing.

If you can slip away unnoticed for a few minutes, try out a shoulder-stand or head-stand to rejuvenate. If you don’t know what either of these are, then just lie down on the floor and raise your legs up against a wall for a few minutes. It’s deeply relaxing. The blood and energy starts to flow in an antigravity motion and this benefits your mood, heart and blood pressure!

If you are going to be sitting most of the 8 hours straight, it would be a good idea to watch your diet. I know we cannot live without rice at lunchtime, but try to cut down on the amount to one measuring cup only. Replace it with an extra helping of vegetables or other interesting dishes. Don’t miss out on protein and complex carbs. Eat foods that are cooked fresh and avoid anything that comes out of a can or the bakery and is laced with sugar. Sugar is poison when it comes to good health – it’s that simple. So are artificial sweeteners.

Snack frequently to keep your blood sugar balanced – nuts, cottage cheese, cucumber/carrot slices with a hummus dip, two slices of cheese and crackers etc. Pick food that grows directly out of the earth and contains sunlight. These foods are best for you and will give you sustained energy for all these hours when you have to put out the best version of yourself to the world.

Find a gym nearby, slip out for a quick run on the treadmill. Don’t wait for the doctor to tell you to start walking and push you a pill you need to take for the rest of your life that will eventually kill your vital organs. No gym? Find a park, or the street. Run. Gradually build pace. Work that heart and pump those lungs.

If you are a smoker switch to nicotine gum and download a free quit plan. Today. Please don’t make me go into my why-you-should tirade. Smoking is so 1920’s – not cool.

Last but not the least, dress well. Spend money doing your nails and hair. Buy eco-friendly and local products for your beauty regime. Buy and dress in local, natural fabrics. You’d be doing your country’s economics a favour.

Self-love is the best investment and it is not vain. It means you care about and value yourself and in turn can do the same for others. 

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