In a city where traffic snarls and public transport problems are common, and where most of us live nowhere close to our workplaces, commuting takes up a lot of our time. But you can put the time you spend sitting in a train or bus, or stuck in a traffic jam, to good use by giving back to your body. Here are some easy ways.
Sitting in one position can get uncomfortable, leaving you with cramps and pins-and-needles. Relax the sore muscles by trying neck rolls. “Just a couple of rolls on either side removes stiffness and encourages blood flow,” says Zumba specialist Sucheta Pal. “Shoulder rolls get the electrons tinkling, increasing flexibility and leaving you feeling fresh.” Pal also suggests concentrating on major problem areas such as the back and legs. “Imagine you’ve just woken up and get into the longest cat stretch you can manage. This helps in opening up the stiff knots,” she says. Also, try a couple of ankle rolls to enhance circulation in your feet. Pal says you could also get flat abs while travelling: “This might sound bizarre, but it’s true. Crunch (abdomen muscles) and release at 10 second intervals, but keep breathing the whole time. Repeat this 10 times and relax. The best part is that you can do this exercise as often you want.”
Use your head
Crossword puzzles, word jumbles and sudoku are good options to exercise your grey cells on the move. You can also use the time to calm your mind before your hectic day ahead. “Listening to soothing music has a calming effect on your heart and brain, which in turn leaves you with better ability to focus and concentrate,” says Eefa Shrof, wellness coach and yoga expert. “You can also practice deep-breathing. If you do that for even 10 minutes each way, you’re deep-cleansing your lungs of toxic gases and harmful carcinogenic substances. The surge of oxygen to your brain will bring the level of your feel-good hormones up as well,” she says.
Exhale till all the air is out of your lungs, then breathe in, inhaling as much air as you can hold. Continue this process for as long as you’re comfortable. “If you aren’t driving, then travel time is best to practise visualisation. Form a photograph or a movie of yourself having already achieved your goal. Then hold that picture in your mind and count your breaths backwards starting from 50 to zero,” says Shrof. Visualising is used by athletes and achievers in every field to optimise their potential. It helps your brain find the habits and connections you need to build to achieve your goals.
This is a great time to fill the nutrition gaps in your diet. Instead of buying a pack of chips at the station, pack wholesome snacks for your train ride. “Almonds are an anytime snack; they are easy to carry and can be eaten on the move, roasted or plain. They offer good amounts of protein, monounsaturated fats, calcium and vitamin E,” says Sheela Krishnaswamy, diet, nutrition and wellness consultant. She suggests making roasted almonds with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, coriander seeds and red chillies. “Sauté 1 cup almonds until golden brown and add 1 tsp coriander seeds and 1-3 chillies. Coriander seeds are believed to have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. They have been studied for cholesterol-lowering properties, but nothing is conclusive. Red chillies are a good source of vitamin C,” she says.
Another easy snack is an almond, banana and strawberry drink. “Blitz 4-5 almonds, 1 cup strawberries, 1 ripe banana and sugar. Almonds add to the protein and calcium quotient of milk, and strawberries are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. Bananas provide B vitamins, potassium and magnesium along with quick energy,” she says.