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Why I picked up playing Squash Now?

Why I picked up playing Squash Now?

The lockdown is over!

Over the lockdown, I was only doing my regular walks and diet control. This helped me reduce my weight and kept me fit physically and mentally. The result was that I reduced over 15 kilos in weight. However, I needed a full body workout and had to pick up a sport. I am not a gym person and needed to add some workouts for my upper body and endurance. Hence some racket sport would be a great addition. In the past, I had played table tennis in school and college at competitive level. Later, in college I played tennis till I gave up in 2011.

After 10 years, I wanted to take up a racket sport that is easy on my age and is all weather. The choice zeroed down to squash.

Research from Sports and Medicine Favouring Squash

According to Forbes Magazine, squash was rated as the  healthiest sports in the World. Forbes consulted with personal trainers, coaches and exercise physiologists, 10 sports were listed as being the ‘healthiest’ in terms of cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, calories burned in 30 minutes, injury risk. Squash took first place!

According to Forbes, 30 minutes spent on the squash court gives you ‘an impressive cardio respiratory workout.’ Constant running and rallies build endurance and muscular strength in your lower body, and squash can even improve flexibility in your core and back, thanks to the twists, lunges and turns necessary to keep the ball on the go.

If you’re wondering what makes squash so healthy, here are the results from the Forbes survey:

forbes
Forbes Survey

Here is more, Recently the British Journal of Sports Medicine underwent a study which examined information on more than 80,000 adults across England and Scotland who took part in national health surveys between 1994 and 2008. The study found that risk of death from any cause was 47% lower among those who played racket sports. The study suggested that regularly playing squash could help stave off death the longest.

Scientists have narrowed down the sports and types of exercise that are linked to significantly lower odds of dying before those who do not do those activities. The research concluded that racket sports, swimming, aerobics and cycling seem to be the best for prolonging life, in that order.

Meanwhile, those who partake in racket sports such as squash, also have a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases such as strokes. After taking into account influential factors, the authors of the paper identified which sport or exercise seemed to be the most beneficial.

Compared with the participants who said they had not done a given sport, they found that risk of death from any cause was 47% lower among those who played racket sports; 28% lower among swimmers; 27% lower among those who took part in aerobics classes; and 15% lower among cyclists. No such associations were seen for runners or joggers and those who played football or rugby. When the researchers looked at the risk of death from heart disease and stroke, they found that playing racket sports was associated with a 56% lower risk, swimmers had a 41% lower risk and aerobics participants had a 36% lower risk compared with those who did not participate in these sports.

The researchers did find a 43% reduced risk of death from all causes and a 45% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease among runners and joggers when compared with those who did not run or jog, but this advantage was not deemed significant when influential factors were taken into account. They cautioned that the impact of running and jogging might have been underestimated.

The study suggests that squash is ultimately the best sport to play to ensure a long life.

About Squash

Squash is played in a four-walled court with a small, hollow rubber ball. It is played between two i.e, singles and four i.e, doubles players. The game was first played in 1930 at Harrow School in London, England. The game is an excellent cardiovascular exercise and mostly played in the gyms. It’s not an Olympic sport yet but it features in Commonwealth games and Asian games since 1998.

Gregory Gaultier, Mohamed El Shorbagy, Ali Farag, Nour El Sherbini, Raneem El Weleily are leading the point table at the moment. Joshna Chinappa, Dipika Pallikal Karthik, Saurav Ghoshal and Ritwik Bhattacharya have made India proud in the sport.

Getting Started

Getting started on squash costs as low as ₹5,000. Please use the basic gear available on Decathlon, India website or visit their store. Search | Squash (decathlon.in)

What's in my squash bag?
What’s in my squash bag?

# Gear Make Remarks
1 Squash Racket Prince Thunder Sub Zero 200 – 175 grams Poor packing, bent while shipment and play, do not buy
2 Squash Racket Perfly SR 135 Latest product. Pro range. Loved it.  
3 Squash Ball Prince Rebel High quality Pro
4 Shoes Plaeto Unisex Squash Sneakers Loved it. Made in India and endorsed by Rahul Dravid
5 Short and T-Shirt Sweat Free from Reliance Trends and Decathlon Good fit
6 Bag Aurion Squash Zipper Kit Bag Great price and value
My Squash Starter Kit

I made the mistake of ordering Prince rackets on Amazon. The product is bad as the grip needs to be replaced. Also the Amazon packing and handling is poor. The rackets arrived damaged.  

Other Benefits of taking up Squash:

Even at this age

Squash as a game is age-friendly. At 50+, I was able to pick up the game in the first session. The rest is YouTube videos to brush up the 101 and techniques.

Easy to pick up

As I played tennis, squash was really easy to pick up and lean. I can play solo and brush up on my strokes and on court movement alone with a coach to guide me.

Improved cardiovascular fitness

As per my watch, my peak cardiovascular activity at the end of 45 minutes of constant play was 175 bpm. This was 30-35 bpm higher than my usual walk after 45 minutes.

Improved hand-eye coordination

One of the concerns that I had was, Will I be able to see the squash ball which is coming to me at high speed? Need less to say, I was able to affirm that I had not lost my hand-eye co-ordination even after taking up a racket sport after 12 years. I was able to hit the ball from the first shot.

I can play solo

I am able to play the game solo and do not need a team to be accumulated to play the game unlike in racket sport, you need a duo. Just start hitting the ball against the wall!

Increase strength

After a couple of days of playing squash, I see my upper body strength improving

Improved posture

Sitting in front of your laptop, leads to a couching posture. After a few days of playing squash, I could feel my shoulders and back straightening up to a better posture

Learn to run and move backwards

If you can run backwards, your brain is still sharp and focussed. Squash gets you moving forward and backward on court to hit the ball hard enough. So its like a brain tonic for me!

Can play it even during rains of Mumbai

Most of the outdoor sports become seasonal in nature and cannot be played all round the year. Not in the case of squash. All you need is a wall to hit the ball against!

Health benefits

While here are some of the other health benefits of playing squash. Stress reduction, strengthening muscles and joints, with proper elbow and knee guards it is not injury prone, improves mental strength, determination and routine

And lastly, I am having fun!

New Mental Strings in Life! Keep Playing

New Strings in Life! Keep Playing

New Mental Strings in Life! Keep Playing

The Destiny is in Your Fingertips!

Many don’t know the miracles and health benefits of keeping your fingers in good shape. Here are seven key facts that you need on your fingertip about your fingertips.

Direct Connect to your brain

Like your feet, the fingers have millions of nerve endings that connect to the brain providing it with six different type of sensations as heat, tactile pressure, vibrations, texture, pain, and the position of the body in relation to its surroundings. This direct connection to brain of the fingers leads to stimulating and improving the neural functions of the brain. 

Detect Minutest of Objects

The touch receptors in the finger tips are so concentrated that even a thinnest of a pin of 0.2 mm can be felt. The fingertips are even more sensitive to dynamic (or in-motion) touch that you’ll find you have a whole new level of intuitive, precise control.

Feel Vibrations

Our fingertips can decipher tiny vibrations that are created when any surface meets them. Different structures create different vibrations based on the amount of friction and wrinkle width (which is how scientists gauge non-smooth textures) present on its surface. Fingertips interpret motion vibrations in order to assist touch.

Move Without Muscles

Our fingers have tiny arrector pili muscles, which can make the hair on the fingers stand up straight. The brain communicates directly to the fingers for movement

Move In Harmony With One Another

Because of this complex network of muscle, tendon, and bone, it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to move one finger by itself. There are 29 major and minor bones, 29 major joints, at least 123 named ligaments, 34 muscles, and 48 named nerves in the hand—and they all work in conjunction with one another to make the fingers functional.

Communicate with Others

The fingers’ dexterity also supplies a vast well with possibilities for non-spoken language. Gestures and hand motions can also increase understanding among non-signing people

Our Aadhar (Identity)

It’s common knowledge at this point that no two fingerprints are alike, and because of this they’ve been used as personal identifiers for millennia—even our unique identification number (UID) uses our fingerprints.

Why the need now?

As I am getting older, I am seeing some of my friends and acquaintances parents suffer from Alzheimer’s, A type of brain disorder that causes problems with memory, thinking and behaviour. This is a gradually progressive condition. Some other mental degradation conditions include:

  • Dementia: A group of symptoms that affects memory, thinking and interferes with daily life.
  • Parkinson’s Disease: A chronic and progressive movement disorder.
  • Huntington’s Disease: A condition that leads to progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the brain.
  • Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease: Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, also called early-onset Alzheimer’s, or early-onset AD, is Alzheimer’s disease hits people between the ages of 30 to 65 years
  • Vascular Dementia: A condition caused by the lack of blood that carries oxygen and nutrient to a part of the brain.
  • Lewy Body Dementia: A progressive dementia that results from protein deposits in nerve cells of brain.
  • Multiple Sclerosis: A disease that affects central nervous system.

Over 1 million new cases of Alzheimer’s in India are appearing every year. This is a huge issue not only for the person suffering but also for the family members and care takers. I was wondering if the onset can be delayed or avoided. During the pandemic, I was witnessing many people falling prey to mental illnesses and that could further degenerate to Alzheimer’s if not properly diagnosed and treated. I wondered on the need for some solution to combat this during the lockdown and pandemic. I looked towards music.

My Experience with Music

From my childhood I have been musically inclined. Apart from singing I was exposed to various musical instruments. As I grew up I started playing the guitar and learnt strumming and composing as a hobby. Somewhere in between my busy work life I gave up. However, I encouraged my kids to take up playing a musical instrument. As they grew up, I realised that playing a musical instrument was therapeutic and help them focus better. During pandemic I took up to walking to remain fit and during my walks I would listen to rock music. This did help me in reducing my weight and remain calm and sharp while working alone in my office during the lockdown.

Another issue that I realised is that I am typing more and writing less. This is another reason that my finger tips were not being adequately used. To balance all this, I acquired a Yamaha acoustic guitar to connect back to music. How does this help?

There are several research papers on internet that tells how using the fingertips while strumming the guitar helps. Here are a few that I have felt:

  • Playing guitar helped to lower blood pressure and reduce heart rate as it is mentally calming. A recent BMJ study suggests the same heart health benefits.
  • Relieves stress and anxiety and reduces cortisol levels in me
  • My brain was sharper and memory clear. A recent study states, playing a guitar or any string musical instrument is helping to stave off degenerative diseases that are common in older people, including Alzheimer’s and dementia. In fact, seniors who engage in the kind of engaging mental activities like playing an instrument can reduce their risk of developing these conditions by up to 75%.
  • My creativity increased. Enough studies state that
  • Mathematical and numerical dexterity increased. It’s not that I am now going to sit for some competitive exams like CAT. But I could focus back on numbers
  • My vibrational energy significantly improved
  • Lastly, my interpersonal communications and relationships took a huge 360 degrees turn for the better

So it’s upto you. What strings you would like to pick up? Towards mental degradation or mental upgradation?

The destiny is in your fingertips.

That’s Lazer Sharp Vision, Literally!

That’s Lazer Sharp Vision, Literally!

Background

Perfect human sight is the greatest gift that a man can get. Years ago, I remember on one of my Rotary Eye Camps in a village near Bangalore, an old lady came to the Eye Camp with the help of her assistant holding her and guiding her to take the steps due to poor vision. The doctors checked her eyes and gave her a pair of spectacles. On wearing the spectacles the lady was overjoyed and filled with tears. She could see perfectly which she had not for years. Her dependency on others and quality of life improved immediately. This incident bought emotional tears to all the people around her. Like the old lady, there are millions of Indians who have poor quality of life due to lack of proper sight as they cannot afford proper spectacles to correct their sight. I seem to be amongst the more fortunate ones who can afford the luxury of sight correction.

My Issues with Hypermetropia, Myopia and Presbyopia

As far as I am concerned, I have always tried to maintain my eyes inspite of long-distance sight (hypermetropia) correction from my teenage years. As I aged (presbyopia), the complexity of near-distance (myopia) reading and long-distance sight have emerged. My lenses that Essilor fitted to combine both of these into one lens in a spectacle resulted in near catastrophe while driving on the highway. As a result I preferred to maintain two sets of spectacle for hypermetropia and myopia. With presbyopia, I have to fit new lenses as the vision for hypermetropia and myopia keep changing. This means a new set of spectacles every year or so to maintain proper vision.

My Experience This Time Getting Vision Correction on Digital

Every year, I visit the optometrist around the festive season to get my vision tested and procure new set of spectacles and lenses as per the advise of the optometrist. Given the lock down situation, I thought of procuring the spectacles through the digital online platforms like Myntra, LensKart, Titan Eye and Amazon, etc rather than shopping for at the physical optician stores. I wanted to try out Lenskart as my daughter had bought two pairs of spectacle recently and was a very loyal customer of them. While all the catalogues of Myntra, Titan Eye and Amazon offered just the spectacles, Lenskart offer the spectacles and a zero-powered bluecut and anti-glare computer lenses fitted along with it. Similar spectacle designs on platforms other than Lenskart turned out to be cheaper as Lenskart was loading the price to the lenses additional. I needed powered lenses to be fitted at an additional cost and throw away the lenses already fitted with Lenskart spectacles.  

My WhatsApp Interaction and Talk with Amit Chaudhary of Lenskart

Pissed off with the experience, I WhatsApp Amit Chaudhary, Founder of Lenskart. That’s when I realized the business model of Lenskart versus other digital and brick and mortar opticians out there. Here are some of the excerpts of my telephonic conversation with him

  • Lenskart is the largest AR eyewear venture in the world
  • Over USD 150 mil of eyewear is sold by them through their platform and lenses are manufactured and fitted through their fully-automated robotic facility
  • AR technology and fully-integrated robotic manufacturing facility makes them the cheapest provider of eye wear in the world due to the scale
  • They are targeting a total addressable market of around 1.5 billion eyes in India
  • They are therefore integrated to provide the full solution of spectacles and lenses as operationally there are challenges of product warranty when customers buy spectacles from them and fit the lenses outside at a local opticians.

There is a stand out quotes that while talking with Amit that summarized their business model

“We are the Maruti of the eye wear business. Customers like you form the top 10% who are the Ferrari’s who would like spectacles not only for functional, but for esteem value”

I like the lazer sharp vision of Amit. As entrepreneurs like him who raise lot of VC and PE capital at some time want to dominate and move away from their core business model and value proposition in the pressure for growth, profitability and valuations.

Although Amit offered to service me as an exception, but that is not core to their way of working. Consumers sometimes miss out on this and crib and bad mouth the start ups on social media, missing out how these start ups are making the world better by offering sight to millions by being cheaper, better and faster. Remined me of the old lady in tears who could see properly and so did I on Amit’s perspective.

Kudos to such start ups which are bringing in technology and production techniques to reach scale!