Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |  Volume 7, Issue 05, Tuesday, January 31, 2012




To stretch or not?

By Karim Waheed

8:30 in the morning. Too early for me; I usually run after work. But one of my best friends, a working mother, can only make time early in the morning. Another case of “I need to lose …kg/lb” -- declared as 2012 emerged on the calendar.

So we're running at Ramna Park. It's a misty, cool (on the comfortable side) morning. I've slowly started jogging, planning to pick up the pace. I look at her, and stop on the track. “Did you stretch?” -- I ask. “Umm…no,” she responds.

I tell her she should've stretched. At school, the coach always made us stretch. At college, the stretches our Taekwondo sensei made us do could be considered a mean workout in themselves. I literally grew up stretching whenever some form of strenuous physical activity was imminent.

So, I pondered why do we, or should we, stretch? What does stretching do for us, or doesn't?

Here's what I found out:
According to studies, traditional stretching routines performed during warm-up procedures before exercise can increase flexibility for a short time, but there is little scientific evidence that such routines can improve exercise performance, reduce delayed-onset muscular soreness, or prevent injuries.

Stretching on a regular basis, e.g., 3-5 days/week, away from the exercise environment may be effective in improving flexibility and some types of exercise performance, and it may reduce injury risk, but further research is required to validate this concept.

Stretching just before exercise may cause temporary strength deficits.

Risk of injury to muscles, tendons, and ligaments appears to be lessened in athletes who are more aerobically fit.

So, should you and I stretch?

Based on the information provided above, science hasn't really made up its mind on whether stretching is helpful or harmful.

My take on this? I do whatever feels right. Stretching gets me in the warrior (face it, a killer workout is a battle) mode. It's more psychological, perhaps. But isn't that important enough? One has to feel ready, right?

Here are some of my favourite stretches if you decide to give them a shot:
Leg lifts: Swing one leg out to the side, then swing it back across your body in front of your other leg. Repeat 10 times on each side. Feel wobbly? Hold onto a steady object.

Hacky-sack: Lift your left leg up, bending the knee so it points out. Try to tap the inside of your left foot with your right hand without bending forward. Repeat 10 times on each side.

Toy soldier: Keeping your back and knees straight, walk forward, lifting your legs straight out in front and flexing your toes. Advance this by adding a skipping motion. Do 10 reps on each side.

Walking lunges: Step forward using a long stride, keeping the front knee over or just behind your toes. Lower your body by dropping your back knee toward the ground. Maintain an upright posture and keep your abdominal muscles tight.

Please direct all queries to lifestyleds@yahoo.com


These are my confessions

“If I'm going to tell it, Damn I got to tell it all,
Damn near cried, when I got that phone call,
I'm so thrown, I don't know what to do,
But give you part two of my confessions”----
Usher, Confessions II

Recount the entire period of time and try to think of a man who has one day sat down and confessed his entire history. Delete Usher from the list and who are you left with? Nobody because men will never confess to everything and this is the key reason why most of their relationships will fail.

Women have a tendency to share every last thing. Men have a tendency to share absolutely nothing. These two characteristic dynamics at play are total contrasts. Hence, the problems.

The biggest problem with men is that they do not realise what to share exactly. They don't want to talk about their day, they do not like to discuss their successes unless in an attempt to boast and they never remember conversations they had five minutes ago so there is nothing to speak of.

This results in the opposite sex thinking that the men are hiding something. But, they are not; they simply just can't be bothered to remember. In fact, talking about something that has already happened doesn't appeal to them. They fail to understand its importance. But the problem is the fact that men do actually re-tell stories in the company of other men. This is solely because a revised version of events can easily be presented without anyone saying you are exaggerating because everyone else will be eventually exaggerating.

Women, on the other hand, do not need to exaggerate. Everything in the world is major news for them and that's because they actually lead awesome lives without a monotonous routine. Women think five times before consuming a bar of chocolate and it happens once in two months so for them its big news. For men, eh, not so much.

A man's day starts off late in the morning then he goes to office and comes back home. What happens between the period that he is out of the house and in the house is just a hazy memory of crude jokes and random events.

Their stand out points actually makes them guilty, for no reason whatsoever, apart from the fact that men really can't properly differentiate between right or wrong. Thus, they keep quiet about it and this way there is a glaring time-gap in their accounts of the day. Suspicious, yes, but absolutely innocent. But when you fuel suspicions by trying to retain space you really don't need, it's just a recipe for disaster.

So come on men, let's band together. Let's actually remember what we did today and try not to do anything stupid and for once go home to our woman and tell her everything that happened.

It isn't much to ask; it isn't even an infringement of your own private realm. It's just about making the other person feel as big a part of your life as she always makes you feel. So, talk a little. It isn't too much to ask for. You know she deserves better. It's time for your confessions.

By Osama Rahman


Celebrating the way you live: SCB lifestyle fair 2012

Branding a better lifestyle, Standard Chartered Bank hosted a three-day exhibition in BICC from 27 January to 29 January. The Lifestyle 2012 Fair as it was called is SCB's way of bringing its customers and some of its corporate partners and stakeholders to a common platform in order to relay to its customers the better lifestyle that SCB is always encouraging and trying to facilitate through its many banking services.

The exhibition was a collection of many of the well-known brands in Bangladesh from different industrial sectors. Real estate firms and communication facilitators; automobile companies and furnishing companies; jewellery, perfume, watch and electronics companies all came together in this fair.

Tamarul Islam, CRM of Asset real estate says that in this fair their primary purpose was to communicate with their customers. “We are collecting data from them and trying to learn what their taste is and what their expectation is from us.” He also says that in the branding attempt of Asset their primary concern is to remove the negative stigma attached to real estate developers as cheats. In total the fair exhibited seven real estate firms, namely Navana Real Estate, Amin Muhammed, Urban Designs, Rangs Real Estate, Assurance, SEL and Trust Alliance.

Apart from real estate there were the communications facilitators such as Airtel, with their SME packages, and Qubee. Airtel introduced 3 new corporate packages in this fair and had to constantly answer the one question everyone seems to ask them, “When do you invest in improving your network?” The Airtel spokesperson says by July Airtel service will improve.

Kollol group's Time Zone proudly demonstrated three of its watch brands, Rado, Tissot and Longines and two of its pen brands Parker and Waterman. At the fair they were availing a 10% discount on all their products.

A 10% discount was also offered by Furnitec, home and office decorators, exclusively for this fair. The other furnishing companies were Athenas and Koncept.

Gitanjali and Perfume World also set up stalls in this lifestyle fair. Perfume world came with their great valentine's offer, a branded gift item with any of their perfumes of any size or a 10% discount. They also introduced some new scents through this fair, some of which are Gucci Guilty (for men), Burberry Body, Versace Venitazz, Cartier Delune, Hugo Just Different and Mont Blanc Legend. “Each of these perfumes is imported directly from the mother company,” says Farial Alam, Brand Manager, Perfume World.

Finally there were the automobile companies displaying their latest or most popular cars. Mitsubishi sported the Pajero Sport, Ford boasted it's Fiesta and Everest, Hyundai rode in with the Accent and Elantra and Kia's main attraction was its new Optima.

The Lifestyle 2012 fair provided a good evening out among the luxuries you would want in life. Whether you can afford them in reality or not it never hurts to live in that dream world for a while. That is why SCB with this fair celebrates the way to live.

By Raisaa Tashnova
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed

Kimchi: Well-being food

On January 24 Madam Gyeyoung Cho, wife of the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, hosted a Kimchi Festival and Charity Bazaar at the Ambassador's residence. Kimchi is the quintessential Korean health food -- one which is enjoying growing popularity worldwide as a tasty and healthy addition to any diet. The event also featured a demonstration on the preparation of Kimchi.

Gifts of Nature
Kimchi, a fermented food steeped in the finest Korean tradition of some thirteen thousand years, is now Korea's quintessential culinary ambassador to the world. An exceptional fermented food rich in probiotics, Korean kimchi has become a favourite food worldwide for its distinctively zesty savoury, umami taste and health benefits.

Kimchi actually represents many dishes at once: cabbage dishes, turnip and radish dishes, and others. The humble origins of this natural ferment date back a thousand years, and methods have been passed down through generations.

Health benefits
The health benefits of kimchi have been studied extensively in and outside Korea. From a nutritional standpoint, kimchi, made primarily of vegetables and spices, is a good source of dietary fibre. It is naturally low in calories, but rich in nutrients such as carotene, Vitamin C, calcium and iron. It is also a good source of lactic acid which promotes digestion.

Origins of Kimchi?
Korea enjoys four distinct seasons, fertile soil and good general growing conditions. But the winters are harsh and cold. Kimchi began as a vegetable preservation method, using mostly salt to keep the harvest from being spoilt during the colder months. The salted vegetables were kept in special storage vats buried underground. This enabled vegetables to be enjoyed during the winter

Around the 17th-18th century, red hot chili peppers were introduced, and it revolutionised the way kimchi looked and tasted. This method has been followed and refined in the generations since. The incorporation of hot pepper powder and other spices has helped kimchi evolve its unique taste that millions of people now can't live without.

Despite modernisation and Westernisation of Korean culture, kimchi remains integral to the daily diet of Koreans today, with many homes owning a kimchi refrigerator, set at optimum temperature, devoted to the proper storage of various types of kimchi.

Modern science continues to decode the secrets of Korean kimchi. Researchers focus on understanding the correlation between different nutritional values in kimchi made with different types of vegetables or seasonings. Fermentation processes are continuously being improved, using advanced technology, equipment and production discipline. But many nutritional benefits of kimchi, whether lovingly home-made or conveniently store-bought, are already undisputed and widely acknowledged.

-- LS Desk
Photo courtesy: Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Dhaka


Will there be a 2013?

2012 is a much-hyped year. It deserves to be, since it is the year that is believed by many to be the one to see doomsday. Several predictions, documentaries, journals and what not have been bombarding our consciousness with the prophesy that December 2012 will bring Armageddon. Will we have a 2013?

All the doomsday fuss started when it was said that a certain planet, named Nibiru, is going to collide with Earth. Planet Nibiru, however, does not exist. Many people confuse it with a dwarf planet known as Eris.

Nothing is heading towards our planet, though. If it did, experts would have tracked it coming a long time ago. As a matter of fact, by now, you would have been able to see such a thing through the naked eye. Therefore, you may breathe a sigh of relief.

But “fans” of the 2012 phenomenon claim that scientists have been hiding the information about the existence of Nibiru from the general public -- just a conspiracy theory.

Also, it is worth remembering that this prediction of Nibiru hitting the Earth is not new. It was believed that the collision would take place in May 2003. It was later abandoned and the year 2012 was predicted.

But what about a huge meteor or asteroid attacking the Earth? The last big collision occurred some 65 million years ago, which resulted in the extinction of dinosaurs.

Another big hit can wipe us out. But no massive impact is expected in the near future.

Proponents of the 2012 phenomenon point out the Mayan calendar, which ends on 21 December 2012. The ancient Maya civilisation was extraordinarily brilliant in arts, architecture, mathematics and astronomy.

The Mayans were extremely obsessed with time too. They made a calendar that many experts argue to be even more accurate than the one we use now. Their calendar was complex, though. As a matter of fact, understanding the entire thing was beyond the scope of ordinary people; knowledge is always the source of power.

Now that calendar ends on 21 December 2012 (it is not a one-year calendar like we use). Why this date? The Mayans, razor sharp they were, predicted many astronomical events with accuracy. Did they also know, by any divine revelation or by crunching numbers, that it would not be wise continuing the calendar after 2012 as the world would come to an end?

Not necessarily. Calendars don't last forever after all, neither the one you have on your desk nor the one Mayans crafted.

However, one group of people believe that after 21 December 2012, mankind may gain a new level of spirituality, or may start a very new way of life. It won't happen in one day, the world won't change overnight, but a gradual change will be seen.

In the end, the end of the world, whenever it will come, is out of our control. We have survived doomsday predictions before, and if you are a betting man, bet on December 22.

By M H Haider


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