There might be much routine work that is not at all beneficial for our body and mind. These things have become a part of our life almost unconsciously.
But have we ever really thought about how something we are repeating every day can affect us? How is it impacting our body and mind? Today we are going to focus on two familiar habits that are harming us regularly.
Sitting fora long time in a chair
Sabbir Ahmed (pseudonym) joined a multinational company three years ago on completion of his graduation and by this time took responsibility of the accounting department. He had to work long hours sitting on a chair, looking at the computer monitor. As required, he has to calculate numerous numbers, from dawn to dusk, to prepare reports for the office.
One day he felt some pain in his lower back. He ignored it, but the pain continued to worsen and spread to his legs.
He took some pain medication but to no avail. Eventually, he could not even move without sharp pain shooting through his back and legs. He consulted with a doctor. After some investigation, it was revealed that there was an issue with his spine which is causing the pain. He became very upset.
He thought back pain only happened to older people, while he was barely thirty. But his doctor informed him that sitting long hours every day without any movement might have contributed to his plight. Mr. Sabbir had to take some sick leave, went through physical therapies and medications before he could recover. Still, he sometimes feels discomfort in his back.
This case is similar to the experience of many nowadays.
In today’s competitive world we spend a lot of time in the office, and many employees go through the whole day just sitting on a chair. Our body is built for an upright position, and it is in this posture that our organs work best, including our heart. When we are sitting our body is burning way less energy than when we are standing.
People who sit for a long time every day have a higher risk of obesity and hypertension, according to a 2010 analysis of the population-health Science of Sedentary Behaviour. Other research findings also show, people who remain seated for a long time every day have a higher risk of obesity and hypertension. Wilmot and others said, “These people are also 147 per cent more likely than active persons to suffer heart disease or stroke, and 112 per cent more likely to develop diabetes.”
There is also a very real danger to our spine when we fail to move our legs and buttocks for a prolonged period. It disrupts the weight distribution through our back; consequently, there is increased pressure on the bones in our spines, called vertebrae. Between two vertebrae there is a disc-shaped structure that starts to leak its inner contents as a result, leading to pressure on the surrounding nerves in some cases. The result is back pain which may seriously hamper our life.
A study group of Ekelund and other scientists at the University of Cambridge published a meta-analysis of more than a million people scrutinising the beneficial effect of physical activity. They found that 60 to 75 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a day countered the effects of too much sitting. Researchers in Mayo clinic found that sitting time contributed little to mortality for most active people.
Sitting for a long period not only happens in the office. It can happen at home, when we watch television for hours without moving a muscle or when we are in a vehicle traveling to a faraway destination. But sitting at an office is more likely since many of us do this almost every day.
Following some simple tips about sitting can prevent us from doing it for too long:
- Stand up and move around for a few minutes after every half an hour.
- Instead of soft chairs, use chairs specially designed for work (ergonomic chair).
- Try to develop a daily exercise routine.
- Take the doctor’s advice if there is a pain in the back hampering your daily activities. Pain medications should not be used indiscriminately without consulting a physician.
Next time we are at the office, let's take a good hard look at the chair we are sitting on. It can be our friend or foe, depends on how we decide to use it.
Due to our busy lifestyle, a lot of us skip breakfast. We want to go to the office or university as quickly as possible, and considering the congestion on our roads, it is not difficult to see why we want to make an early run for the workplace. But can we sacrifice breakfast for that?
Let’s think about Ramadan when we are fasting all day. Do we feel the same way in the afternoon as in the morning? Is our concentration the same? It happens when we wake up from sleep and go out without eating. Our concentration is less than what it should be and our focus is not sharp. People often tend to compensate for breakfast by overeating at lunch, which is not again advisable.
Skipping the most important meal of the day raises the risk of obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol. All of these are risk factors for heart disease. A 2019 Study by Rong and others showed that breakfast skippers are 87 per cent more likely to develop heart problems than people who eat breakfast.
By skipping breakfasts, we interfere with our body clock. Many processes are occurring inside our body, which needs hormones and enzymes. There are certain times of the day when these substances are released, controlled by the body clock. Skipping breakfast may cause some issues with this finely tuned system.
Breakfast can help to keep us healthy. That does not mean we can eat a lot of fried food, juices, and coffee and think that it’s healthy. We have to carefully plan what we eat; not only for breakfast but also for all meals. To eat a healthy breakfast, we should stay away from beverages with lots of added sugar. Out food should include proteins, freshly sliced fruits, whole grain cereals, low-fat milk and hard-boiled eggs.
In short, anything that does not include too much fat, oil, or fried food. So next time we are going out in the morning, maybe we can schedule our day in a way so that we could wake up earlier and arrange for a healthy breakfast.
Imtiaz Ahmed has completed MBBS from Dhaka Medical College.