As a writer and working mum, it is hard for me to find time to exercise. For writers with pressing deadlines it is even more difficult! In my case, I have elderly parents to check on, friends and family to catch up with and normal domestic stuff, so every minute counts. This is no news to writers and people who lead busy lives, however, we should all make the effort to exercise, drink water and get plenty of sleep.
Recently I put on my favourite shorts and I couldn’t do the zip up. I wasn’t happy. I realised over the last year I have done minimal exercise and spent a lot of time at my desk, writing, researching and social networking. At work I’m also behind a desk most of my day. I did a little research and have come up with some interesting facts and challenges for all of us.
Fact: Every organ and cell in our body depends on water to stay healthy.
Lack of water leads to dehydration and energy loss. You’ve all heard the saying, ‘Drink eight glasses of water a day to stay healthy.’ It should be ‘Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.’ The average man should drink 3litres, the average woman 2.2litres. The good news is we do absorb water through our food and other beverages. I do love a cup of tea.
Challenge – Have a bottle of water on your desk and take regular drinks from it.
Fact: You can develop blood clots from sitting in the one position too long.
Clots most often develop deep in leg veins and can be life threatening. They are generally caused by sluggish blood moving through the veins. This happens when we sit in cramped positions for long periods. If your leg, ankle or foot, swell, cramp or are warm to touch, you should seek medical attention. The most important thing you can do to avoid clots is to keep the blood flowing, so get up and walk around every 30 minutes. If you’re stuck at a desk or on an aeroplane, simply rotate your ankles and move your legs. Staying hydrated is also essential when travelling. Drink lots of water.
Challenge – Do these simple exercises at your desk. Who cares what anyone thinks.
Ankle Rolls: Roll your ankles clockwise five times, then anticlockwise. This improves blood circulation and prevents pins and needles.
Leg Stretches: Sit with your feet flat on the ground then lift them off the ground, straightening your legs. Lower and repeat 10 times.
Walk: Every hour go for a walk. This ensures continuous blood circulation in your legs.
Fact: If you’re overweight or use your hands a lot, you are at risk of getting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
You can get CTS if there’s too much pressure on your median nerve. The carpal tunnel surrounds the tendons you use to bend your fingers and wrist. It also surrounds your median nerve, which is one of three nerves that connect your wrist to your hand and controls some of the muscles that move your thumb. If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, your hand and fingers may feel numb, tingle or burn. You may get aching or pain in your forearm, shoulder and neck. Again seek medical advice.
Challenge – You got it. Let’s exercise those hands, neck, shoulders and arms.
Hand stretches. Tense and relax the muscles in your hands. Make fists, spread your fingers and make fists again. 10 times.
Wrist roll: Roll your wrists 10 times clockwise, 10 times anticlockwise. This will help minimize the chances of getting carpal tunnel.
Neck stretch – Slowly flex your head forward and backward, side-to-side and look right and left. Never roll your head around your neck––it could cause damage to the neck joints.
Shoulder roll: Roll your shoulders forward around 10 times, then backward. This helps release tension in shoulders.
Fact: Sitting at a computer for extended hours will give you eyestrain.
Computer screens produce glare, which affects the eyes adversely. We also tend to focus intently and stare at the screen for long periods, which isn’t good because our eyes are getting no rest. You know when your eyes are tired, but do you stop? You do now.
Challenge – Preventing Eye Strain using the ‘5 times 20 Rule’
Every 20 minutes, look away from the Screen for 20 seconds then look at something 20 feet away. Blink 20 times to lubricate eyes, and walk 20 metres.
Fact: We all want to be Trim, Taut and Terrific.
It’s true and no matter what size we are, or from what Gene pool we’ve descended, it is possible to improve your health and fitness. As part of my research for this blog, I visited a couple of gyms and spoke to other busy women. It became very obvious, very quickly that a lot of women have hang ups about their body image, so they don’t visit gyms. It also became obvious that people with fantastic bodies have no problem being seen at gyms. In fact a lot of gyms have mirrors on the surrounding walls so it’s very hard not to be seen. I also noticed gym members like looking at themselves in the mirrors. I might add here, I also took extra time to look in the mirrors at the muscle bound hunks. (It was research)
I decided to visit a Gym known as Curves (for women only). Having never been to one of these gyms before, I went expecting to see slim, fit woman, mirrors and the same work out machines as the other gyms. I was pleasantly surprised to find women of all sizes and shapes, no mirrors and a circuit of low impact machines and running mats. They have upbeat music and a voice tells you every 30 seconds to move onto the next machine or mat. Several times you are told to check your heart rate to make sure you’re staying within limits or could work a little harder. I liked what I saw and decided to explore a little further. The instructor took my medical history and I was weighed and measured for future reference. I discovered I was four and half kilos heavier than a year ago. That explains the muffin top and zipper problem. The instructor who took me through the routine was lovely (not a teenager and not a size 6, 8 or 10). It was fun. It was low impact, and I felt fantastic afterwards. She recommended a 30-minute session (one circuit) three times a week. I did two circuits, then some gentle stretching exercises and I might add here, I didn’t suffer any stiffness or soreness afterwards.
Challenge – Join a Gym like Curves and if this isn’t possible, do a two or three kilometre walk a couple of times a week and some exercise.
If you are unable to go for a walk then buy yourself a Low Impact Exercise DVD or a Dance Exercise DVD. They can be great fun and you can do them at home along with your Pelvic Floor Exercises and with a bit of luck you’ll ward off incontinence in your old age.
Fact: Sleep is Important.
While it may be obvious that sleep is beneficial, most people don’t realise how much sleep they need and why it is so important. Getting enough quality sleep can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. Sleep is essential for healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. The way you feel while you’re awake depends in part on what happens while you’re sleeping. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. Sleep enhances your creativity, learning, problem-solving skills and decision-making. Not getting enough sleep alters brain activity and you will have problems controlling your emotions, making decisions, depression, mood swings and obesity. Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry. If you don’t get enough sleep, this balance is altered and you feel hungrier than if you’re well rested. Sleep deficiency results in a higher than normal blood sugar, which may increase your risk for diabetes. Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy and fight common infections.
Challenge – Aim for seven to nine hours sleep every night. You will feel better.
So. Don’t just sit there. MOVE IT! Drink more water, exercise, rest those eyes and get your sleep. You will be more productive and feel great. You may even end up Trim, Taut and Terrific.