Desk exercises that are great return on investment for your body

image courtesy:
image courtesy:

Eight or ten hours in the office and most of us are looking for the most comfortable place to sink in. All the mind work, some of it tedious, does a lot of us in. And many of us use that one drink to feel better (and smokers do even worse), which then turns into another drink. In short, that is office life for you.

However, it does not have to be that way. First of all, you can definitely feel much more sprightly with a little smarter use of your body while at the desk. And the other thing is, it keeps you from going fat. Anyone will tell you that they put on those extra pounds because they sat on the desk and worked to make money for a ‘better’ life. Yes, it is ironic.

While at your office desk, you can actually exercise without really disrupting your work. And this will mean you don’t have to do that extra half hour at the gym (provided you are the kind that actually goes to the gym post work).

Do these (desk) workouts and get great return on investment! Continue reading Desk exercises that are great return on investment for your body

Back up your spine

Image Courtesy:
Image Courtesy:

While sitting slows down your metabolism, it also puts a lot of pressure on the lower back. That is why computers and back pain go together. You have to take care because spine health determines your continued success. If you are hurting already, read this and implement it:

Keep your head up: Align head and neck above your shoulders.

Keep the mouse close: No reaching for it. It should be close on a comfy mousepad next to your keyboard.

Get the right chair: It must let your lower back rest on a lumbar support.

Breathe from your stomach: Inhale like you want to get your navel close to your spine.

Sit close: Your torso should be about an arm’s length away from the monitor. Monitor should be 2 to 3 inches above the eye level.

Rest your feet: Plant them flat on the floor, comfortably apart.

Take breaks: Move, stretch every 45 minutes to an hour.

Right angle: Position knees at 90 degrees above your ankles. It keeps the spine straight.

Stretch shoulders: Roll them back and down, square them over your hips, as if you’re balancing a plate on your head.

Stop squinting & straining: Laptop users tend to do this. Get a separate keyboard and a mouse.

Uncross legs: Crossing legs while sitting makes it difficult to keep the spine straight.

Mobile use: If you are the kind that cradles your phone with your neck while talking, your spine is under stress. Stop it. Take a walk, keep conversations short (5 minutes is good).

“Get up and start moving”

A rendezvous with Dr. Suchitra Mankar, general physician.

Dr. Suchitra Mankar
Dr. Suchitra Mankar

A veteran of medicine, general physician Dr. Suchitra Mankar studied at the Armed Forces Medical College in Pune. I spoke to her last evening about her work and life. She told me that she worked for the Indian Air Force as a doctor for 30 years. Her stint in the Air Force allowed her to experience many interesting events. In fact, she has been invited by the Rotary Club to talk on ‘Anecdote of my Life in Air Force’ on January 17, 2014. So I felt lucky to have found her for this interview and talk about her life back in the days. When she talks about those days, her voice is filled with both – emotion and power. The enthusiasm with which she narrates a few of her experiences makes one feel like it’s so fresh that it just happened.

So here’s what we spoke about. Continue reading “Get up and start moving”

Foodie Moody Blues

Can food affect your mood? The answer is yes. To know what, why and how, read further.

By Avanika Mote

They might tickle your taste buds but damage your mood and body
They might tickle your taste buds but damage your mood and body

Last year I drove into the Aundh outlet of McDonalds and drove out with a McMeal. It had a soda, a burger and a pack of fries. Just one of those days you don’t want to cook. The day was tiring as I didn’t want to write a thing on technology. All I looked forward to was a ready-to-eat meal and an episode of The Big Bang Theory to make me feel like it’s a great evening. Once in a while it’s okay to indulge in atrocious food habits. Especially on a Thursday evening. I peeled the paper cover off the burger, put a straw inside my Coke and squeezed some ketchup for the fries while searching for Z-Cafe on my TataSky. Multi-tasking comes handy when there’s a burger to look forward to. It’s also a prep to eat all things inside one burger in a bite. It isn’t easy with burgers, with the mayo dripping and the remote in your other hand.

While Sheldon Cooper was doing what he does the best – turning lame into a verb that creates LOLs – the whole burger-and-Big Bang concept was not working out for me. My funny bone would not tickle. I was starting to feel irritated, though the Coke tried its best to calm my throat. When the meal was over, I started to feel worse than before. And then I was just a phone call away from two pints of beer. This was the last ray of sheer optimism to make my evening great. And Google calls it the ‘junk food blues’. You need to understand that it could happen to you too. Since information is power, it is good to know what junk does to your psyche. So, here are the top five foods that can give you the blues. Continue reading Foodie Moody Blues

“Life is movement, movement is life”

Dr. Devendra Vartak talks about bones and joints and what we must do to keep them healthy
By Avanika Mote

Dr. Devendra Vartak
Dr. Devendra Vartak

One Wednesday morning, we asked four quick questions to Dr. Devendra Vartak, an acclaimed orthopaedic surgeon from Pune. He agreed to give us 20 minutes of his valuable time meant for his daughter who had a school holiday – a priceless gesture from a man whose time is at a premium. We asked him about his work and how he goes about it, and he spoke about his expertise briefly, which are hip and knee surgery, joint replacement surgery, fixing fractures of the hip and knee, and revision hip and knee surgeries. He also sounded enthusiastic about his newly set up operation theatre at Ameya Clinic in Erandwane.

What was the most difficult case you have come across?

Dr.Vartak: A 20-year old boy from Aurangabad, who was suffering from ankylosing spondylitis, visited me some time ago. Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that affects the spine. He was bed-ridden for three years and his body was immobile. His spinal bones had fused together resulting in a rigid spine. The X-ray reports showed that his hips stood at 90 degrees on account of this condition. After the diagnosis, I decided to operate him. A poly-hip replacement surgery was the only hope. His bones had become so fragile that I had to perform the surgery with a feather touch. We also gave him a shot of a hormone that strengthens bones and today, he is functional. He can move with the help of a walking stick. The great thing is, he does not need a wheelchair and has a relatively normal life.

Any other case you recall that was difficult to deal with?

Dr. Vartak: Another lady, who is 35 years old, was diagnosed with Guillain Barre Syndrome, a nervous system disorder that causes weakness in the muscles, loss of reflexes and numbness in the arms and legs. She was on a ventilator as she had breathing issues. Also, she had nerve blocks which had caused ‘foot drop’ – an abnormality caused by the paralysis of muscles of the lower leg. This case was tricky because I didn’t want any artificial fixtures. The only direction I could consider taking was to transfer a tendon to her affected leg muscle through a foot-drop gait surgery. This isn’t something that you get to see everyday and there were some risks involved. However, it worked wonders and my patient has been recovering through various post-surgery physiotherapy sessions.

That is commendable. I cannot imagine anybody going through such muscular conditions. So, how do we take care of our bones and joints without having to take supplements?

Dr.Vartak: Good question. We live sedentary lives these days and hardly make time to exercise. I’ll give you a quick checklist of things to do and not do.

  • Workout.
  • Walk to nearby places, like say the grocery store and so on
  • Take stairs, ditch the elevators.
  • Don’t sit at one spot for long, keep moving. Keep your bones and muscles mobile. Because, life is movement, movement is life.
  • Stretch as much as possible.
  • Monitor your posture, use cushions when the neck is under stress.
  • If you work on a computer, it should be positioned at the eye level and your elbows should be supported. Ergonomics are important.

Thanks, doc. I’m sure most of our readers need these basic tips to protect their bones and joints. On a candid note, what are you doing when you aren’t working?

Dr.Vartak: (smiles) I like to trek and spend time with my family. I like to chat with like-minded people and hang out with friends in my free time.

Dr. Devendra Vartak is an MBBS, MS, DNB. He has been practicing in Pune since 2007. He has a state-of-the-art operating room with laminar flow and in-house physiotherapy department at his clinic in Erandwane.