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How one can stay healthy in jail

What is health anyway? The World Health Organization (WHO) definition states: "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not just the absence of illness or ailment."

Even here it becomes clear: even under “normal” circumstances it is difficult to maintain this state permanently. And under prison conditions it becomes all the more difficult to imagine feeling good in your body, being fit and active, feeling strong and balanced. Every person in jail is at least socially impaired.

So what could the goal be? Probably a little different for each. I would say it like this: If we take care of ourselves, keep our body and soul, as best we can in a fit and alert state, have something in hand to improve our well-being a little, ourselves Feeling reasonably strong, clear and well rested and, as far as possible, surrounded by beautiful and pleasant things and activities, this is also good for our self-esteem and our self-confidence. And maintaining or attaining a good level of self-confidence certainly helps to reduce the amount of breakdown in everyday life in jail. In this chapter I will try to give you suggestions in order to give you something in hand, with which you can build something that is good for you, which in the best case allows you to come to yourself. It is important to me that everything described here is only a suggestion. Everyone is different and nothing is equally good for everyone. You may have to overcome yourself in the beginning, start or stick with it. Maybe something is not so comfortable for you the first time, maybe it feels strange and strange. That's okay. After a while at the latest, you should clearly notice that it feels good. If you are torturing yourself or something hurts you, stop doing it. If you are not feeling well, you may notice a thought, something like knowing that it would be good to practice or try this or that thing. That can be very good, we often know more than we can imagine. But here too: If the thought is not confirmed, don't stick to it convulsively. Maybe you will find something that suits you more. Or try whether it can be modified for you in such a way that it is comfortable for you.

I know that even under normal conditions this is something that many of us have not learned and that is difficult for us. Even more so in jail, where everything leads to losing the feeling for yourself and your own needs, your own personality. So not the easiest time to train that. But that is precisely why I think it is important to be able to maintain or build up something of it.

While what is offered here may seem silly or useless to you, it is something that many find helpful. Again: nothing is equally good for everyone. But there is sure to be something there that can help you. I would like to encourage you to be curious, to get to know you, to give yourself a try.

The mental part should be as important as the physical part. Of course, these are mutually dependent. If you feel comfortable in your body, you will be better otherwise, and vice versa. But it is also important that we actively take care of our emotional well-being, especially in jail, where it suffers particularly.

Perhaps you have heard the term "mental hygiene" before. It describes that we should take care of the current state of our soul regularly, preferably on a daily basis, similar to brushing our teeth or washing, in order to stay healthy. The idea behind this is that we can consciously exert influence.

We can z. B. decide which thoughts we want to deal with. Whether we keep repeating destructive thoughts, get lost in thought circles or consciously turn to something that is good and is associated with beautiful feelings. This will certainly not work by itself, but we can learn to exert more influence ourselves. I offer you a few exercises for this that you can try.

From the suggestions in this chapter, everyone can choose what seems to be an important survival strategy to them at the moment and what they think they are most likely to learn.

And above all, she should tell herself that every small step is important enough and cannot be taken seriously enough. If you think that the following advice has too little to do with the actual prison situation, you should write it down and change it for your specific situation.

13.1 Exercises for the muscles
and circulation

Regardless of the situation, it is necessary to ensure sufficient exercise to stay fit.

I can imagine that gymnastic exercises in the cell don't seem particularly attractive to you. Even if you feel weird at first, give it a try. Maybe you can put together a small exercise program that suits you. If that is the case, you will soon notice that you feel more comfortable and stronger and that the movement has a positive influence on your self-confidence.

All of the following exercises are intended as suggestions; you can use this to put together an exercise program that corresponds to your needs and possibilities, which you can change as you wish.

Try out what seems suitable to you, you may also have to overcome yourself. But at least after a while, it should feel good, or at least not be uncomfortable. Don't think you just have to want it strong enough or you just have to try harder. What is not good for you, do not do either. A lot can be changed, or you can remember exercises that were once good for you. Everything is allowed, do not force yourself into something that does not suit you.

We recommend around half an hour a day, but ten minutes is also good. Better to start with less, and then build up when you have fun with it.

Here you will find exercises for relaxation, loosening, stretching and strengthening for the individual body parts and a sequence from head to toe. It is best to start with relaxation exercises. This can be B. shaking the head, arms and legs, then one after the other rotate the joints, including the finger joints.

Only when the tension has been loosened a little, after about five minutes, is it advisable to start with the strength exercises. With music or rhythmic clapping of your hands, these exercises are much more fun and you don't feel the strain as much.

In order to maintain or improve your physical performance, it makes sense to work up a sweat during the exercises and to accelerate your pulse so that your cardiovascular system is properly stressed and your heart and lungs are strengthened. Of course you can also achieve such a "circulation training" while walking in the yard by running or in the cell by hopping on the spot or dancing to music if you feel like it, or whatever is conceivable for you.

1. Neck:

Purpose: to soften and strengthen the neck muscles, loosen the cervical spine, improve head posture by strengthening the rear extensor muscles of the neck and nod

Execution: Before beginning each exercise, stretch your neck long - carry out every movement extensively.

Loosening and stretching:

Head forward

drop and

lay back

Cervical bends

(Chin up or ear on shoulder)

Head circles and

Roll your head


Neck exercise:

The neck exercises are suitable for strengthening the neck muscles:

the bridge with hand rest

and lowering to the bridge

(as a partner exercise)

Don't be discouraged if this exercise doesn't work right away. In all of these exercises to soften and strengthen the neck muscles and to loosen up the cervical spine, make sure that the neck is elongated and that every movement is carried out extensively before each exercise.

2. Arms and shoulders:

If you want to get rid of cramps in the arm and shoulder area, to prepare for muscle stretching exercises or to achieve rapid blood flow in the muscles, then simply bend your upper body slightly forwards or backwards and loosely shake your arms, which are hanging down.

They are also particularly suitable for loosening up the muscles

the wide pendulum swings forwards and backwards,


and as a whole arm circle over the head.

Just let your body swing along and breathe in when the arms are raised and out when they swing through the depths. Try to find your own rhythm, this will facilitate the flow of movement.

The following exercises are particularly suitable for making the shoulder girdle supple: Stand up loosely and let your arms hang down relaxed. Now pull your shoulder blades together (exhale) and push them apart again (inhale), then push your shoulders forwards (exhale) and back (inhale) several times and then lift your shoulders a few times (inhale) and let them fall again (exhale) . Rotating the shoulders very slowly is also very beneficial: you pull both shoulders up to your ears at the same time (exhale) and roll them backwards (inhale) in a whole circle.

It is best to do this exercise a few times from front to back and vice versa. At the latest during this exercise you will feel how the cramps in the shoulder girdle gradually begin to loosen.

Now another exercise that doesn't always work right away. Try touching your hands behind your back! The right hand reaches over the right shoulder and the left hand from below over the left shoulder or vice versa. You will see that as the flexibility in the shoulder area increases, this exercise will be easier and easier for you.

If you want to do something to stretch and strengthen your shoulder and back muscles, you can choose the exercises that are possible for you. Your muscles should already be warmed up by some of the exercises mentioned above so that you do not get sore muscles.

Exercise: shoulder extensions

Exercise: flexion seat

  • High seat (tailor or stretch seat) back to back
  • Hold up your arms, hold your hand
  • Alternating slight forward and backward bending of the trunk (exhale)
  • Leave your buttocks on the floor

Exercise: seated cradle

  • Straight seat back to back
  • Arms hooked
  • Alternating torso forward (exhale), pulling up and charging the partner (inhale)

The easiest way to do this is to rock the trunk slightly and it can also be done by yourself by placing your hands on the back of a chair or the edge of a table. When doing the exercises for two, try to feel to what extent you can really stretch the other without it hurting her, so no show of strength!

If you don't know what to do with your strength, you should try the following exercises.

Exercise: push-ups (alone or with a partner)

with both arms / on one arm

with anticipation


Push fight

Push-up draw fight

(or cut hands off)



Lizard run


Double support

And if you really want to strike, you can maybe venture out with the following speed strength exercises.

straight push forward

straight punch

Inside joint / arm cross joint

3. The legs:

So, if you haven't had enough, you can continue with your legs right away. To loosen up your hip and knee joints and the leg muscles, you can

simply the lower legs

let them circle

or swing back and forth.