Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   | Volume 7, Issue 01, Tuesday, January 03, 2012




2012: 12 Minutes

By Karim Waheed

As you read this I'm probably getting some sun by the pool at a hotel in Southeast Asia, sipping on mojito in pure hedonistic abandon, or I've decided to turn on my iPod and sweat some toxins off on a treadmill. We've stepped into 2012 and I have a shocking revelation to make. You ready for this? All of you who are contemplating getting serious about workouts in 2012, got 12 minutes? No, not 12 minutes a day; I'm talking about 12 minutes a week! Before you label this issue of “Skip the Gym” one of those hoaxes that try to sell something, relax, and keep reading.

Most people shoot themselves down with too much enthusiasm. If I could convince you that you could make major changes in your fitness with just 2 total hours per week, I suspect this would make you feel like it's doable. Once you have some hope, you are on your way. So 2 hours it is….120 minutes out of a whole week.

Now divide 120 minutes by 10 for a grand total of 12 minutes. Don't be sceptical. Don't say to yourself: “There is no way 12 minutes is enough”. Simply embrace the fact that there is "no way" that you will be unable to carve 12 minutes out of your week.

This is where the catch is. If you do this properly, 12 minutes will be all you can stand. The thought of extending this to 13 minutes will not cross your mind. In fact, within the first 90 seconds you will start to think “how much longer till this is over?”

But what if you get antsy and want to work out twice per week? Fine, but if you do, it needs to be two 6-minute sessions and they need to be so hard that 6 minutes is all you can stand.

In the initial weeks it is perfectly acceptable if you do nothing else. In fact this is encouraged…up to a point. After 4-12 weeks (depending on your starting level of conditioning) you will get the uncontrollable urge to do something active. When (and only when) this happens, you should cautiously go out and do something.

As you become better conditioned, the active genotype that is deep within your DNA will wake up and it will drive you to be more and more active. Once you are at this level, continue to do your once-a-week workout with ever-increasing intensity, progressively improving your strength and metabolic condition.

Your 12 minutes of exercise should be composed of 4 or 5 movements. These movements should be basic compound movements that require very little skill to perform. Each of these exercises can be done at home or in the park.

This can be done with a chin-up bar that mounts in a door jam, on a sturdy tree branch or playground equipment. If you are not strong enough to do chins, you can set the bar height so you can assist with your legs. If this will not work, simply do them negative only by jumping or climbing to the finished position and lowering yourself as slowly as possible.

If you are too weak to perform strict push-ups, do them from your knees. If you are too weak to do them from your knees, then do only the lowering portion, lowering as slowly as possible.

Start by doing a static wall squat. Place your back against a wall and descend to a seated position where your hip joint and knee joint are both at 90 degrees. Hold this position for as long as possible. You are done when you start to slide down and cannot hold the 90 degree position any longer.

Static lateral raise
This movement is done using a door frame. Stand with your feet just outside the door frame and bend slightly forward at the waist. Place the backs of your open hands in the opening of the door frame with your elbows slightly bent. You should be positioned like you are going to do a lateral raise with dumbbells. With your hands in the door frame, begin to slowly and smoothly press laterally against the frame. Gradually build up to a 50 percent effort and keep up a 50 percent effort for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, gradually ramp your effort up to 75 percent and continue for another 30 seconds. After that, go up to 100 percent and continue for a final 30 seconds. When you start, you will think “this is silly”. However, by the end you will realise that this is probably tougher than anything you could do on a weight machine.

Keep in mind that the exercise you have done does not directly produce any physical change. Rather, it simply stimulates your body to produce an adaptation. Your body requires rest and time to produce the physical change you desire.

Wait at least 5-7 days before you perform this workout again. Be as active as you like. After 6-8 weeks you will start to develop the urge to become more physically active in ways that are more vigorous and challenging. At about this time you will notice that you are now performing unexpected feats of strength.

A common example is lifting a heavy bag without much effort. Once these sorts of things begin to happen your active genotype that is locked inside your skeletal muscle will “wake up” and you will have the natural tendency to become very active. It is at this point that you can start to incorporate functional exercise and experience the joy of a body fully capable.


Darkening our lungs

Why are all the smokers' tales eerily familiar stories? Doesn't the first intake of pure poisonous nicotine travel down your virginal throats all in a bid to 'fit in', 'act cool', or 'because he did it on TV'? And hence the journey begins, one that has an all too painful and abject ending.

Statistics show that 10 percent of the global smokers' population resides in Bangladesh. 10 percent is not peanuts, is it? Call it the laxity in laws and non-existent regulations, the tobacco industry in Bangladesh is thriving, at a higher cost of more than the 30 percent deforestation it is already responsible for. But ask any smoker and they'll tell you that they can quit any day they please. Absolutely any day!

Except of course they can't. Unless you have tried to quit it, chances are you don't even know what its like.

Between the two of us, we know why people smoke, right? There are various reasons. Stress, to calm one's nerves, in order to concentrate, etc. The list is practically endless. But, at the end of the day, we both know that those are just excuses.

The desire to stay away isn't strong enough and no matter what is at stake, unless we want to quit, we will not quit. Except, then again, everyone says they want to quit. Or so they tell us. Believe nothing. Smoking is directly proportional to the number of lies that people are going to say.

But one fine day you wake up to phlegm stuck in your throat. Your voice is hoarse, your breath smells and your surroundings reek of nicotine. You get up to the disgust of it all only to realise that without lighting one more up you cannot start the day. So you proceed to do as your body instructs you to, letting your lungs slowly be poisoned and proceeding to feel nauseous and tired once again.

Your appetite for that early morning breakfast fades into oblivion. You flick the ashes, withdrawing deeper into your own web of deceit. You kill yourself slowly and then you have had enough. You know you want to quit. The slow jog down the stairs to the garage leaves you panting and now you are sure. You must quit.

Quitting isn't easy but there are various ways to go about it. Cutting down on the number of cigarettes smoked, smoking a fraction of each cigarette, chewing gum at all times, purchasing expensive packs of Nicorette but none of that really works. Those who have quit have done it in one way only; wake up one day, place a cigarette in front of you and vow never to light up again. That is the true test of your will.

Imagine being forced to eat through a pipe. Imagine losing all your hair while never being able to father a baby. These are all real costs of smoking. Eventually you will die, you tell yourself. Cigarettes just makes the death all the more painful, prolonged and hence worse. The element of social cost is also an important one. Don't think you'll quit someday. Do it now. We are all educated enough to know better.

By Osama Rahman


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