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Fit in my 40s: cycling will cheer you up this lockdown, but will it get you fit? | Life and style

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If you have any sort of journey to work at the moment, it’s likely you will have thought about a bicycle commute. And likely, if you have, you’ve concluded that it’s a little bit longer than you’d prefer (otherwise you’d have been doing it all along) and that you need to dangle some reward in front of yourself, such as, “It’ll make me really fit.” (Meanwhile, if you’re working from home for lockdown, you may be eyeing up your bike as a means of escaping reality, and getting fit at the same time.)

The truth is, cycling to work is in a different league from club cycling. It may cheer you up, count as moderate exercise and be better than nothing, but it won’t hugely boost your fitness levels for the following three reasons: you go slowly so you don’t get sweaty and ruin your work clothes; you endlessly stop and start, because of traffic lights; you only use your leg muscles, rather than your core or arms (and you only use half your leg muscles at that).

So, to take those in no particular order: do not under any circumstances wear a fitness tracker to monitor your heart rate, for the sake of morale or the challenge. I tried that, and ended up shooting a load of traffic lights, because I wanted to stay in my zone. Then I got stopped by a police officer, who said, “Do you know what you just did?” And I said, “Yes”, and she said, “Then why did you do it?” And I was about to say, “Because I was trying to stay in cardio rather than drop down to fat burn,” but it struck me that she might give me two tickets, one for shooting the light and the other for being an arsehole, so I just said, “Sorry” and rode off 50 quid (but no actual pounds) lighter.

Instead, plan your route so that there are fewer junctions. Johnny McEvoy, ex-pro road cyclist, suggests: “Pick a safe section and go for it as fast as you can – a phone app [like Strava] will time you – then challenge colleagues to beat your time.” I’ve no idea how this would go down in the workplace, or what kind of WhatsApp sub-groups it would generate. So I’m going to leave it to you as to whether you do this.

Kerry MacPhee, professional mountain biker (both she and McEvoy are ambassadors for freewheel.co.uk), is uncompromising on the work clothes point: you’re not going to get up any speed in tweed (or whatever people wear to the office): “The solution for lazy cyclists is to use bike packing gear to stow your work clothes in.” Try panniers or a neat backpack.

Finally, figure out a separate workout for your core and arms, then change your pedals and get cleats; it’s much less nerve-racking than you think and will make you faster. The push-power phase of your pedal stroke (ie pushing down with your leg) overwhelmingly works your glutes and two of your thigh muscles; introduce a pull-power phase (pulling up) and you work those harder, as well as bringing in more of your anteriors – the ones that will give you the leg equivalent of a six-pack (a kind of three-pack), if that’s what you’re into.

What I learned

Varying the route is not great for fitness, because then you can’t try to beat your own time. But it might be good for the soul.


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Coronavirus: When is it the best time to replace your masks?

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That being said, even with proper care and storage, masks do have an expiry date to it.

While it’s impossible to affix a timeline as to when can one safely dispose of a mask, a lot of it depends on the type of mask you have- the fabric, the number of washes it has been exposed to. It also depends on the number of times you use and take off your mask.

For example, if you are someone who travels a lot more frequently and faces more exposure to the virus, the replacement timeline for the mask will also differ, and you will need to replace them more frequently than others.

Another good measure on replacing your masks is to think about getting a new mask at the change of a season. Ensuring mask hygiene and care is also important considering the seasonal changes and polluted weather we are experiencing right now. A bad, spoiled mask, which has poor quality will make it harder for you to steer clear of germs and pollutants and offer little protection. If you are wondering what’s the best mask to buy that could protect you against both pollution and COVID, here is a guide.


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Psychologist-recommended ways to interact with an anxious partner

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It is quite a challenge to be romantically involved with someone who deals with constant anxiety. In a relationship, where communication, understanding and love are the foundations, an anxious partner can get lost amidst the sorrows and stress that they deal with, on a regular basis. Sometimes, it gets so overwhelming that anxiety creeps into the relationship like a third person, who only feeds on sadness, stress and sorrow.

However, when you fall for someone, it’s not within your power to chose whether that person is alright or is dealing with a mental health condition. Furthermore, when you love someone, you love them with all their flaws and imperfections, and don’t really pick out only the bits you approve and love. Loving someone with anxiety means you have to deal with their doubts, trust issues, communication problems and more. These were only a few of them that surfaces often. There are many other underlying issues that can be quite unpredictable.

However, amidst all this, your anxious partner only needs someone to love them and take care of their feelings and anxiety. It is like going pole-deep for a person, only to find yourself clouded with little emotions of want and need that they are unable to express. They also want to be loved. Most importantly, they would want you to treat them like a normal person with a normal state of mind, rather than specifying their mental condition always.

If you’re scared that you won’t be up to it, then it’s not your fault either. It can be quite demanding and can also destroy you in the process. But, if you are determined to be with your partner and help them rise above it, then acquiring strength and faith to stand by them is what you need.

In moments like these, consulting a therapist or psychologist is considered.


Psychologists have, since years, researched ways for efficient communication in situations like these. They have carefully analysed such individuals’ behaviours and actions to come to conclusions about their ideologies and what exactly they think. If you need a professional opinion, considering the advice of such mental health professionals is recommended.

According to them, if you are romantically involved with an anxious person, you need to know the risks and troubles you will face. It takes great courage and strength to have the patience of understanding anxious partners. Communication becomes another huge issue while trying to interact with such people. One has to carefully thread along the lines, in order to avoid any difficult or worrisome situations. One in all, you should have supreme patience.

Here we have listed a few ways that psychologists highly recommend trying out, if you’re wondering how to interact with an anxious partner.

Tell them it’s alright to be afraid


The foremost thing they are afraid of is fear of their own self. Understand that it’s very hard to stop thinking about fear or even trying to lose out on it. If you get insensitive about this, your partner may feel that they aren’t even worthy of being scared or allowed to do so. Instead, ask them what is bothering them, slowly. Try to neutralise any situation if it goes out of hand.

Show them how to keep up with you


If you’re running late, send them a text so that they’re relieved that you’re not dead or involved in an accident. Let them know and keep them updated about the common things in your life. Anxious people easily sense when something is wrong and instantly get scared. They look for assurance, care and expect others to understand them.

Make them feel safe


Such people will always look for a person who can be their safe haven. Their insecurities, doubts and worries are too heavy a burden to be kept inside themselves. Hence, try to be as understanding as you can be and make them feel safe and secure. There is nothing more lovable than making them feel safe with your company.

Set expectations


Telling people what you expect from them is a very intimate way of letting them know that they care about you. We set expectations from people we want to have around, in our lives. So, your anxious partner will feel satisfied, loved and cared for you you say that you expect them to work and go through the entire battle. With, of course, your help.

Take your time


Time is the essence of life. This popular saying is very true, especially in such cases. Take your time into understanding their world. Communicate with them and also, understand that they need their time warming up to you. Slowly make them feel assured that you’re here to hold their hand and be there for them in case, something happens.

Your partner will fall more deeply in love with you when you will give them assurance, safety and security of emotions. Psychologists mainly want you to take one step at a time, and not too many.


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Amitav Ghosh’s new book to release in 2021

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Here’s some good news for fans of author Amitav Ghosh! The Write India season 3 author is all set to release a new book. Buzz is that Ghosh’s upcoming book is a “verse adaptation of an episode from the Forest Lady (Bon Bibi) legend of the Sundarban”.

The international bestselling author took to social media to share about his new book with his fans and followers. Posting a picture of the upcoming book’s cover, Ghosh wrote:

Published by HarperCollins India, ‘Jungle Nama’ by Amitav Ghosh will be released in February 2021.

Meanwhile as Ghosh’s fans wait for ‘Jungle Nama’ to be out in 2021, the Jnanpith awardee has also finished the manuscript of another upcoming book! Sharing the news, publisher Meru Gokhale, from The Penguin Press Group, tweeted on November 25, 2020 that she is currently reading Ghosh’s manuscript. “I am reading the manuscript of @GhoshAmitav ‘s new book, and it is nothing short of mind-altering. I am struck by the feeling that THE NUTMEG’S CURSE is possibly the most brilliant book he has written. Can’t wait to share it with the world – more details soon!,” she revealed.

Further details of ‘The Nutmeg’s Curse’ is awaited.



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