The typical day in the life of a working woman is nothing less than frenetic. She’s up early, cooks, prepares the to-do-list for the day, packs food for the spouse and kids, and rushes to get to work on time, only to rush back to be a doting mother and take care of the housework after office. It’s a tiring routine, and an increasing number of women are struggling with it to strike a work-life balance.
Even though more women are entering the corporate space, it doesn’t mean that they are able to share their load in the domestic space. Women are barraged with demands on their time, and their role as care-givers for the family often leaves them prioritising the needs of others. Often, this means that women neglect their well-being until a health issue gives them a wake-up call.
Investing in physical and mental health have been proven to improve the quality of life entirely, and yet, it’s the last concern on the list for working women who juggle multiple responsibilities. So how do women who want to do it all take care of themselves?
Adopt an activity
Working women divide their time between career and family, leaving little or no time and energy for personal health.
According to a 2012 study published in the journal Neuroscience, women can increase productivity and happiness by investing in regular exercise. Not once or twice a week, but rather a little each day, as this would be more beneficial in the long run. The study finds, “Those who had exercised during the preceding month but not on the day of testing generally did better on the memory test than those who had been sedentary, but (they) did not perform nearly as well as those who had worked out that morning.”
Clearly, physical activity improves your productivity by keeping you active and sharp all day; it improves memory and other brain functions, and definitely lifts your mood.
Another research in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management (2008) reports that those who exercised on work days experienced significantly improved mood on those days. They also performed better at work.
Make it a habit
Allocating an hour for working out or heading out to the gym is sometimes intimidating considering the work load, travel time and logistics.
The best way to get started is by setting a pattern and adhering to what you plan. Wake up at a considerably early hour and head out for a short 30minute walk. Plan to eat healthy meals through the day avoiding off-the-shelf products, aerated drinks, excess caffeine and drink at least 3-4litres of water in a day.
Just like how you plan ahead for meetings, plan ahead for your self-care. Soon, you’d be looking forward to your
personal time, and the physical activity will spruce up your day.
How to choose your activity
There are plenty of choices. What’s crucial is that whatever you choose needs to make you stay consistent. So picking a gym near your house, a group class at a convenient time, a partner to workout with, a routine home-based workout and a comfortable space to workout at home — all of these are equally important.
Before you decide, make sure you are clearly dividing your daily tasks so your personal time is not hindered.
Commit to yourself
Juggling strenuous tasks isn’t new for women. But spending quality time to manage their physical and mental health is what takes effort.
Dear women, you are indispensable to both your workplace and home. But isn’t your body and mind your most prized possession? Isn’t it the place you live in, the one you should care for the most? Take time to take care of yourself. You need to love yourself enough to share your love and time with others. Give yourself the time and love. Give yourself good health!
A mix of body-weight workouts
you can do at home:
You can get as creative as possible with simple workouts. Make sure that you have had ample sleep or rest before you do anything intense. Here are a few strengthening exercises to try at home:
Mountain Climbers: This works your entire body. Get to a full plank position. Bring your left knee toward your left elbow; take your leg back to get back to the plank position. Repeat the same for the right leg. Switch each side without titling too much to the sides by bracing your core. Move slowly and when you’re good at
balancing, pace up.
If you’re a novice and you can’t get to a full plank position (if you have knee issues), pick a chair or just place your hands on the wall (chest height). Take your feet back to a level where you are at an incline and you feel like you’re pushing the wall. Now, placing your hands firmly against the wall, move your feet like you’re almost marching.
Plank to push-up: Start off with an elbow plank and slowly place down one hand at a time to lift yourself up into a full plank position. Ensure that your back is flat and core is braced. Keep alternating the hands so you move from the full to an elbow plank.
If you’re a novice, you can do a wall push up and then progress to a knee push up. For wall push-ups, similar to mountain climbers, pick a chair or just place your hands on the wall (chest height), take your feet back to a level where you are at an incline and you feel like you’re pushing the wall. Make sure that your hands are close to your body, right outside the chest and your elbows are pointing back. Now, push the wall and extend your arms completely. Then slowly go back to the start position, keeping your elbow position intact. Keep moving your feet further from the wall for more depth.
Burpees: There are so many variations to this workout, but this one is the full burpee. Start off by squatting low, place your hands on the floor, then jump to push your feet back and drop your chest on the floor, get back to a plank and jump back to the squat position and jump up and stand back on your feet.
This is a strenuous whole body workout that should be done slowly if you’re a novice. You can start off by doing step ups (am sure you have steps at home). Stand below a step, place right foot first and when the knee is fully extended bring the left foot up. Then take the right foot down, followed by the left.
Flutter kicks: Start by lying down, bend your elbows and bring your torso up (so only your upper body is at a slant, resting on your elbows). Now extend your legs and pulse up and down like a scissor. Make sure that your feet are as close as possible to the floor and your core is braced well. Keep your gaze fixed on a slightly higher position so you don’t strain your cervical spine.
If you’ve never worked out before, then lie on your back. Keep your head and shoulders firmly on the floor and your hands beside. Now, raise one leg at a time to a manageable height.
Box squat: Take a chair that comes up to your knees; stand one step away, turning your back to the chair, and keep your feet shoulder width. Turn your feet to 45 degrees, brace your core and sit back on the chair (without driving your knee forward and over your toes).
This is completely safe for both newbies and those aware of basic workouts.
Isometric work: Apart from full plank and elbow plank, you can try side plank, wall sits, and wide plank. For the side plank, turn to one side, bend at your elbow and lift your body up. Extend one arm up for balance. Hold for time and turn to the other side.
For wall sit, rest your back against a wall and gradually slide down to a seated position. Stay right there with your hands behind your head. A wide plank is the same as a full plank but with your arms placed wider than the usual position under the shoulders. If you’re a complete newbie and can’t plank at all, you still have to try! If you plan a 20second plank, try holding 5seconds first, then a 10, and then move to a 15 and finally a 20second plank. Planks are crucial to gauge your own capacity to hold your body weight. It’s a good way to work towards
MAKING A CIRCUIT OUT OF WHAT WE LEARNT
Pick one whole body workout, one isometric and one core workout to make a wholesome circuit.
Here are three options — repeat the circuit 3-5 times.
10 plank to push-ups
30 flutter kicks
30 seconds wall sit
20 plank to push-up
20 box squats
30 seconds side plank on each side
50 flutter kicks
30 seconds wall sit
50 flutter kicks
30 seconds full plank
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