Markus (52) is a successful entrepreneur and father of three. He does his daily fitness balance to his busy schedule right at his desk: with stretching exercises for everyday life.
"About 10 years ago I founded my company and for years I ran like a hamster in a wheel. Up at 5 in the morning. Taking the kids to kindergarten or school. Then straight to the office and often working on everything that came up at the desk until late in the evening. 50 hours was the norm. It was not uncommon for me to work 60 hours," Markus tells us in the interview. "Despite the ergonomic workstation, I could hardly move."
"But of course the children didn't want to hear that and insisted that I still play cowboys and Indians in the evenings," says the father of three. "And I wanted to be part of their lives, too. I'm always impressed by the imagination they display every time. One minute you're standing on a mountain, howling at the moon with the wolves, and the next you're tied to a train track and the train is speeding toward you. I always enjoyed those moments with my kids."
"But then health-wise, I soon couldn't keep up. It got really bad 3 years ago: I suffered from chronic neck and back pain. Not to mention the constant headaches," admits the now fit entrepreneur. "I already knew that this was now the receipt for bad posture at work and too few breaks. But instead of changing anything, I started taking pills. Eventually, they didn't help the constant pain either."
"Then two years ago, my wife pulled the ripcord. She dragged me on a wellness vacation. For the first time without children. They were with the grandparents. - I have to say that Beatrice has always been very health-conscious. - After a lot of back and forth, she talked me into attending a yoga class with her. Mainly because she was probably tired of my constant moaning and suffering," laughs the 52-year-old.
"That 'Shanti,' 'Om' and 'Namaste' wasn't really for me - but I had to admit that I hadn't felt as good in a long time as I did after that yoga session," he says. "The next day I got up and felt like I was reborn. It was the first day in a very long time that I woke up without a headache. I felt like I could turn the world upside down."
"I talked to the instructor again that day and she said she'd be happy to give me some stretching exercises to incorporate into my daily routine anytime. A whole yoga session would be more suitable as a balance, but at least that would be better than doing nothing. And that was the start of it all," the Lower Austrian shrugs, as if that said it all.
"I now stretch for 15 minutes every day at work," he answers our question about what I have changed since then. "Usually right after the lunch break, to get me going again for the afternoon. Otherwise, you go into such a food trance there anyway. The few exercises calm me down and I see things more clearly. Apart from that, I visibly feel better. I can move again and the headaches rarely come."
When asked how those around him react to the short stretching sessions, the 52-year-old explains with a smile, "At first, my colleagues smiled at me a bit. One of my colleagues even asked me if I was going through a midlife crisis. But after they saw how much better I've been doing since then, they don't really smile about it anymore. Two female colleagues even started joining in a few months ago."
"That made me especially happy," the entrepreneur confesses. "As an employer, the health of my employees is naturally close to my heart. Being able to pass on some of my experience here is nice. We have also considered introducing a larger unit with everyone one day a month. Let's see..."
In the meantime, Markus has become a messenger of movement: "We've all known for a long time that sitting for long periods can lead to neck and back tension. In addition, it strains due to the disturbed blood circulation, the veins and can lead to thrombosis in the worst case."
That these small stretching units are not enough, he is of course aware. "The athletic balance is not replaced by the stretching exercises. Nevertheless, I find that it is a good way to activate the body and mind. All in all, the exercises don't take 15 minutes. I can do them anywhere - whether in front of my desk, in the elevator or in the tea kitchen. It's my stress reliever. I always say, 'I'm going to put my problems on the pegboard now,'" laughs the family man.
We have collected Markus' favorite exercises for you. Just try them out if you also want to stretch your problems on the stretching bench:
Lean your upper body forward until it touches your thighs and then grab your ankles with your hands. While doing this, your back should be slightly rounded and your head should hang loosely. Hold the stretch for 1 minute. Then slowly roll your torso back up, vertebra by vertebra, until you are back in an upright position.
Look straight ahead and lift the chin. Tilt the head to the right side so that the ear moves toward the shoulder. Then reach over your head with your right hand and place it on your left ear. A gentle squeeze will create a stretch. If you press down on the left shoulder, you will increase the stretch. Hold it for 1 minute and then perform the exercise on the other side.
Arms and shoulder
Sit upright and stretch your arms folded forward. Attention: Do not pull your shoulders up! On the next inhalation, pull your arms above your head and stretch upward as far as you can. Try to keep your head upright. Hold the position for 1 minute. Then shake out your arms and repeat the exercise.
Ideally you should do this exercise without shoes. Stand upright and stand on your toes. Your heels should touch each other. Try to keep the balance for 30 seconds. Repeat the exercise three times. Our tip: Some people find it helpful to close their eyes.
Hip and buttocks
You can only do this exercise if you don't have knee problems! Sit upright on a chair and place your legs hip-width apart. Then place one foot on the other knee. The ankle should touch the knee. Then place your hands on the foot you put down. Keep an upright posture and bend your upper body forward as far as possible. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then switch sides.