We love our comforts. We take rickshaws to avoid walking. We look for elevators to reach the floor above. We generally love the life of a panda. Eat, sleep and repeat. Covid associated lockdowns and quarantines are simply cementing that belief. Except this sedentary lifestyle is wreaking havoc with our mental and physical wellbeing. WHO recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, or a combination of both. Sounds intense. Here's how to make it more doable, that too while we follow through our duties during Ramadan.
It's the easiest way to get the blood flowing and your stress level down. Research has shown long periods of sitting to be associated with obesity, increased blood pressure, higher cholesterol and high blood sugar. The solution is to simply get up and move about. Walk to the window and watch nothing happening because, well, possible lockdown. But move. Do not remain seated for more than 30 minutes. Call someone, talk and walk about. This works wonders while you're fasting and stuck at home. Walk about under the comfort of your ceiling fan.
Stand-up office meetings are also a thing, better yet if you're doing Zoom calls. People move about, discussions happen faster simply because most people want to get back to their zone of comfort.
Walk, no seriously, walk!
Walk from room to room ten times and it becomes exercise. A pedometer helps motivate a lot of people to count their steps. Most phones have an exercise app that will count your steps for you. Or a basic fitness tracker on your wrist will do the same job. But the best option is to actually step outside if the people density outside is low. Keep your distance from people. Pat the occasional street dog or two, they always love that bit of affection. And no, scholars have explicitly stated patting and petting a dog is not going to ruin your fast.
Everything is easy downhill
I used to ask my previous team to walk with me up the stairs after an office lunch. Plenty of groaning would ensure but it was always in the name of team building exercises, literally. But how about walking down the stairs? Let gravity do the work and you put in some minimal effort. We mostly live in apartment buildings. Climb down from the top 3-5 times a day. Climb down, take the elevator up. As you build stamina, attempt walking up a few flights of stairs. Keep in mind you need to do this gradually. Don't over exert. But make a routine where you plan to do it once every day to maintain consistency.
Do the simplest exercises, post iftaar
Walk. Lunge. Squat. These are the simplest exercises that will get your blood pumping and are safe for anyone without major health issues. Lunge is a simple movement where you step forward with one leg and lower your body by bending at the knees. Then you rise and step back.
Squat is even simpler. You attempt to sit down on a chair but you don't. You stop with knees bent at a 90 degree, you stand back up. It will train your ankle, thighs, knees, waist, hips and help build a stronger core. Such a simple all-rounder of an exercise has many variations to up the intensity. Follow YouTube instruction on these. Five of each movement per day is less than 10 minutes of exercise.
Our Bangladeshi summer is a killer combo of heat and extreme humidity. Exercise in a well ventilated airy room. During Ramadan, if you fast, aim for post evening workouts. By that time, your body is already limber and you can take a few drinks to ensure the body does not become dehydrated.
As always, walking and the rest mentioned here are the simplest natural body movements. These pose no risk but if you have weak knees, ankles or hips, start slow and back off if there is ever any discomfort. If it hurts to walk, sit or bend at the knees, you should consult a doctor.
Lastly, avoid doomscrolling
It is what you call getting on your social ZuckerApp and scrolling endlessly, scanning headlines of everything going wrong, status updates of traffic jams, unavailability of ICU beds and race/religion wars. In this mix, someone is waiting to add the dreaded dalgona coffee once more.
Last month, 64 percent of screen time for Bangladeshis went to Facebook. People stay awake at night before going to bed scanning the dystopian newsfeed. It takes a toll on your mental wellbeing, creating feelings of despair, raising your sadness and increasing your cortisol levels. That is a chemical imbalance that could lead to higher blood pressure among other issues.
If you must check Facebook, I recommend following Nadir On The Go. It is a criminally underrated vlog about a young Bangladeshi travelling the world. Watch it, get inspired to move. Watch things that uplift the mood.