How To Start Exercising: 5 Easy Steps to a New You

If you are one of the many individuals who are looking to improve your physical well being, but don’t know how to get started, this is the article for you.

 Step 1. Make a Written Commitment

Too many people decide they want to start working out and may begin to hit the gym on a Monday, but when Friday rolls around, you don’t see them anymore. Why? There is a serious lack of commitment. Its very important to know why you want to work out and to quantify your goals. The Dominican University conducted a study and found something astonishing:

“people who wrote down their goals, shared this information with a friend, and sent weekly updates to that friend were on average 33% more successful in accomplishing their stated goals than those who merely formulated goals.”

That’s right, its as simple as that. So if you are looking to get healthier but you have been putting it off, the time to act is now.  Grab a piece of paper and write down your goal (ie: lose 25 pounds by the end of 2014, go to the gym 5 times/week, run 1Km in 8mins) and sign the paper. Pass on this information to a friend who will support you and keep them informed about your progress on a weekly basis.

TIP: If you can find a friend with the same fitness goal as you, it will provide you an added incentive to workout as you will be able to assist each other in achieving your fitness goals.

Step 2. Assess yourself

The vast majority of individuals should be able to take up walking with few side effects. However, if you are closer to your 40’s, the Harvard Health Department recommends that you speak to a doctor if you have dizzy spells, high blood pressure, diabetes, a history of heart disease and/or respiratory issues such as asthma.

Step 3. Watch your food

Exercising is about balance. Your input (food consumed) should be equal to your output (calories burned via exercise). A lot of us in the subcontinent consume a lot of rice and exercise less, which results in weight gain. The solution? Eat less, preferably brown rice which has more nutrients. Make it a point to eat ‘clean’, unprocessed food with a healthy serving of vegetables. Furthermore, watch your intake of sugary drinks and substitute them with water instead.

TIP: Its hard to eat healthy all the time, so give yourself ONE cheat day a week to reward yourself.

healthy food

Step 4. Get Active

Depending on your level of fitness, take it easy on your first day. Here are specific tips on how to do so depending on your workout.

4.1 Weight loss

If you haven’t exercised in a long time, take it slow with a 10-15minute walk.The idea behind this is to build an aerobic base and warm up your body, while minimizing your risk of injury. If you are looking to lose weight, gradually increase your walking time to 25-30 minutes and if possible, a full hour. Small increases in the intensity of your workout will see you accomplish more than if you decided to start walking an hour from the outset.

TIP: For those who like their statistics with a dash of style, look into activity trackers. Find The Best has a helpful guide to help you select a tracker based on price, sleep quality, calories burned, heart rate, battery life, software compatibilities etc.

get active

4.2 Weight training

If you are new to this, it’s always recommended to speak to a professional trainer. They will help you select a program based on your needs, assist in managing your workout time more efficiently and motivate you along the way. Some gyms will allow you to book a personal training session, make use of it at least once or twice a month to ensure you are staying in line with your goals and lifting weights with the proper technique.

 TIP: Use weight lifting gloves if you intend to use weights often as they provide a better grip and leave fewer calluses on your hands.

4.3 Yoga/Flexibility training

If you are new to yoga, or haven’t been involved in classes for sometime, take it easy and join a yoga class. Yoga is an ancient art which improves flexibility, lowers blood pressure, improves posture and breathing to name a few of its benefits.

TIP: If you are new, try to make friends or persuade a friend to join you.

Note: Its imperative that you take part in an activity that you enjoy, as you will have more fun and improve your fitness. If none of these options work for you, look into alternatives like boxing, cycling, swimming, martial arts, zumba classes etc.

Step 5. Measure your progress and repeat

If you followed step 1, this becomes easier as you will have made tangible goals, so you should be able to check your progress. For example, if you are looking to build muscle, you can assess if you are on track by measuring your increase in muscle percentage or how much you can bench press (as compared to when you started). Similarly, if you are looking to lose weight, you can see if you are gradually progressing to your goal by monitoring your weight on a regular basis.

And there you have it, 5 ways to a fitter you. If you have any more tips, let us know in the comments. Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog!

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Disclaimer: The views shared in this blog are based on the macro economic conditions & industry status quo as per the time of publishing. The information contained in this article is only for educational purposes and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with a licensed health/fitness professional.

Road Rage in Sri Lanka: Are You at Risk?

Road accidents in Sri Lanka are a daily occurrence, with numerous cases being highlighted in the news. In large cities such as Colombo and Kandy, accidents are far more common due to the large numbers of varied transportation options (three wheelers, trucks, automobiles, buses etc) and due to more narrower, sometimes overcrowded roads.

Breakdown of Motor vehicles in Sri Lanka: 2013The Ministry of Transport estimated the total vehicle population to be at 5million (see above) as of 2013. The most recent case of an accident highlighted in the news (at the time of writing) involves two buses colliding on the Southern expressway.

In the HNB Assurance call centre alone, this year we have been at our busiest on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays, with an average of 60 motor claims per day, an increase from 2013 where the corresponding number was 50. Furthermore, our data reveals that in the last two years an overwhelming majority of these claims (98%) are road accidents, with theft of parts and flooding a distant second.

Attempts have been made to identify the causes of these accidents. Dr. Godakumbura singles out young drivers suggesting that they are more likely to drive faster, use their mobile phones when driving, more likely to drive late at night and are more likely to feel the effects of alcohol than older drivers. He adds that motorcyclists and three wheel drivers are highly involved in road accidents. This view is supported by Dissanayake  and the Ministry of Transport.  Dissanayake reveals that a large number of motorcyclists  travel without using a helmet, which is a leading cause of injury. Fazlulhaq reports that upto 60% of grievous injuries and fatal accidents are caused by a combination of high speed and driver fatigue.

driver fatigue

The economic impact of road accidents has been documented by Nithershini, P et al (2012) who report that families suffer heavily as their primary breadwinner (often a male) is badly injured or even killed due to road accidents, and just 14% of these families possess life insurance in order to protect themselves from such tragedies. Wijesiri (2012) reported that road accidents cost Sri Lanka over Rs 9.3billion annually.

Which brings us to you, dear reader. Are you at risk? Take a moment to consider about how you drive; do you exceed the speeding limit? Do you race other cars on the roads and overtake dangerously? Chances are some of you who are reading this article have had first or second hand experience with an automobile accident. We kindly request you, whether motorist or pedestrian, to follow these tips the next time you travel:

  • Don’t drive if you are tired. Rest or have someone else drive you.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings, all it takes is for someone to make one small mistake which can have a large impact on your life.
  • Drive slower. Its better to get there late than not get there at all. If you must be somewhere on time, leave earlier to beat the traffic.
  • Do not use your phones while you drive/cross, your attention must on the road at all times.
  • Wear your seatbelt. Not only is it the law, but it could save your life in case the unexpected happens.
  • Don’t drink and drive.  Ever. If you take the wheel under the influence of alcohol you are taking your life, and the life of others into your own, unsteady hands.
  • If you haven’t already, look into motor insurance and life insurance to safeguard you and your family against the unexpected.

Do you have any more tips on road safety? Tell us in the comments and subscribe for more road safety tips.

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Disclaimer: The views shared in this blog are based on the macro economic conditions & industry status quo as per the time of publishing.


Sources

14 persons injured in Southern Expressway accident, The Nation, 31 August 2014. [Accessed 2nd September 2014].

Dr. Godakumbura, VW, 2013, Accidents are Preventable: Road Accidents, part 1, The Island, 26 June. [Accessed 29th August 2014].

Dissanayake, C, 2014, Road accidents in top gear, The Sunday Times, 27 April. [Accessed 1st September 2014].

Fazlulhaq, N, 2013, Road accidents still No.1 killer with 500 fatalities in 2013, The Sunday Times, 5 May. [Accessed 31st September 2014].

Nithershini, P, Dharmaratne, SD, Nugegoda, DB, Ostbye, T & Lynch, CA, 2012, The economic impact of road traffic injuries on households in Kandy, Sri Lanka, Injury Prevention, vol. 18, no. 1. pp. 33. Available from: Injuryprevention website. [Accessed 30th August 2014].

The Ministry of Transport Sri Lanka, Statistics, Department of Motor Traffic: Vehicle Population.

The Ministry of Transport Sri Lanka, Statistics, National Council for Road Safety: Vehicle Accidents.

Wijesiri, L 2012, The Swedish approach: Adopting a zero target for road accidents, The Sunday Observer, 20 May. [Accessed 2nd September 2014].

7 Tips to Make Your Vehicle Run Longer

Want information about extending the life of your vehicle? Look no further, we have compiled a list to assist you in maintaining your automobile and helping it perform at its peak for longer.

1) Tyre Pressure

Monitor your tyre pressure on a regular basis, especially when driving on uneven roads inundated with pot holes. In addition, warm weather causes tyres to lose air at a faster rate. Monitoring your tyre pressure becomes vital as it will ensure you have a stable ride, and results in fewer blowouts. Furthermore, different vehicles have different tyre pressures, so make sure you consult your owner’s manual as ‘one pressure does not fit all’  in this case.

2) Engine Oil

Probably should be the first on this list, changing engine oil on a regular basis arguably contributes to a high performing engine. Periodic oil changes, specified by the vehicle manufacturer ensures that your engine has a longer lifespan.

3) Wheel alignment

It may seem like common sense, but aligning wheels is something a lot of drivers forget to do. Aligning the wheels correctly leads to a smoother ride, maximizes fuel efficiency and causes minimal waste to your tyres, meaning you have a longer tyre lifespan.

Auto Mechanic at work. Image credit:  http://professionalexhaust.com.au

4) Engine and Battery

The engine is the heart of any vehicle. Keeping good care of it ensures that your vehicle has a longer life-cycle. Take engine maintenance and repairs very seriously by taking it to a trusted dealer of your choice. Like a good partnership, a strong engine works in sync with a reliable battery, which also needs regular maintenance (ie: regular cleaning of terminals, topping up the cells and maintaining the recommended PH value for optimum performance).

5) Brakes

In recent years, major car companies such as Toyota have recalled their vehicles due to faulty breaks. We advise you to regularly check your brakes as it presents a major safety hazard. Look into the wear and tear of the brake pads/shoes as well as the braking mechanism to ensure that your vehicle stops when you need it to.

6) A/C repair

For those who travel in hot, humid conditions such as in Sri Lanka, the A/C breaking down can be  major nightmare. In addition, refrigerant leaks from the A/C unit and can harm the environment and cause possible damage to your compressor and evaporator. Regularly maintaining your air conditioning unit, such as cleaning the air filter will ensure you have a more comfortable ride.

Businesswoman driving in an air conditioned vehicle

7) Interior cleaning: Odor and Dirt Removal

Let us be honest: nobody likes a dirty automobile. If you smoke, have small children and/or pets, there is a much higher likelihood that your vehicle will be a lot messier than the average user. Make it a point to keep your interior clean by vacuuming and cleaning away the dust, dirt, stains and impurities from the seats, carpets and the upholstery.

What are your vehicle maintenance tips? Tell us in the comments!

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Disclaimer: The views shared in this blog are based on the macro economic conditions & industry status quo as per the time of publishing.


6 Bizarre Insurance Policies

When it comes to insurance, we cover a variety of areas. Life, children, retirement, automobiles and travel insurance are common types of insurance for the general population. Businesses have their own set of insurance against natural disasters, employee disability, cargo/fleet insurance and so on. However, what other types of bizarre insurance can you be covered under? You might be surprised by what we found.

Unusual insurance

1. Haunted house Insurance

These are always a popular tourist attraction around the world. Most organizations who host haunted houses have general liability in case of injury to its guests. Furthermore, old hotels such as one located in Lowestoft, UK, have insured customers and their staff members for £1m (annual premium of £500) in case of disability or death due to ghosts. It is worth mentioning that the hotel is 500 years old, situated next to an old graveyard and has had to deal with some unusual activity in their hotel.

2. Celebrity Insurance

There is a  plethora of information about celebrities and their strange insurance policies. For example, cricket lovers in Sri Lanka may recognize former Australian cricketer Merv Hughes, but may not be aware that he had insured his famous handlebar mustache for  just under $400,000 during his playing days. Similarly, footballer David Beckham has his legs insured for an astounding $70million. Daniel Craig, who plays James Bond had insured his body for just under $10million as he was insistent on performing his own stunts for the 2006 film Casino Royale.

3 . Wedding Insurance

Yes, it exists. However, the policies do vary.  Some organizations reveal that their clients are covered only if calling off the wedding is due to reasons beyond the policy holders control. Based in the USA, Fireman’s Fund have insurance for major events such as weddings and anniversaries. Some of the options involve cancellation of the wedding (by either bride or groom, subject to conditions), poor weather, photography issues and personal liability insurance, to name a few.

Think your partner has cold feet? Consider wedding insurance!

4. Funeral Insurance

This is the type of insurance nobody wants to talk about, but may need at the end of the day. Depending on the funeral parlour and customer needs, the cost of a funeral can range from Rs20000 to Rs200,000. On the surface, it appears to be reasonable to get insured, especially in a family orientated culture like Sri Lanka. At the end of the day, the last thing people want to worry about is the financial cost of  giving their loved ones a proper send off.

5.  UFO Insurance

CNN did an iReport on the St. Lawrence agency  who claim to have offered this service since 1987. They offer a single lifetime premium of $19.95 and say that they will give you $10million if you are abducted, and can provide the signature of the alien who abducted you. We are yet to find out if any claims have been made.

6. Phone Insurance

Lets be clear. A phone is a terrible thing to waste. When phone insurance was first offered by Dialog to the general public in 2007   its competitors followed suit.  Ceylon Today reports that Smartphone usage has surged to 400%. Combine this with the fact that we use our phones to store our emails, phone contacts, access the internet, store movies, music, notes and pictures it appears to be a no-brainer to have phone insurance. However, the majority of Sri Lankans do not appear to be concerned as their data can be backed up by cloud technology.

What are the more weirder types of insurance you have heard about? Tell us in the comments and Subscribe to our blog!

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Disclaimer: The views shared in this blog are based on the macro economic conditions & industry status quo as per the time of publishing.