Thursday, November 6, 2008
Whether you are a male, trying to get bigger muscles, or just keep fit or you are a lady who again just wants to be in-shape and fit, it is usually better to focus on specific body parts on particular days instead of working the whole body daily or often.
Working the whole body often has the following drawbacks –
o It’s a simple logic – when the effort has to be distributed, the focus on individual areas is compromised. When you know you have to work your whole body, you tend to save your energy at every stage and not exhaust your energy in just a few exercises.
The principle of weight training is that –the focused body part has to be completely exhausted, which leads to microscopic tears in the muscle (technical term ‘microtrauma’), and the body develops that part by making it stronger.
Once again, please note that women do not possess the required hormones to bulk their muscles and hence will never put on muscle mass. So, get going with those weights to have better strength and tone.
o Another very important principle is that the body needs rest to recover from microtrauma which lasts from 48 to 96 hours, with adequate sleep.
Hence re-working the same body part often, does not give body enough time to recover and could negatively affect the results.
So, usually you will see your workout safely divided into 6 body parts – Chest, Back, Biceps, Triceps, Shoulders and Legs. Advanced buffs also go for further classification as in front part of legs (Quadriceps) or behind part (Hamstrings).Usually they are combined depending on the various principles and goals of the person.
Reached there. Now hop onto the Treadmill first or finish off your weights routine first? Well, the sequence can make a huge difference.
The basic way that the body supplies energy for both the activities is quite different. Without getting too technical, remember that any Cardio activity uses the ‘aerobic’ pathway to generate energy, which burns fats reserves as fuel. Weight training uses the anaerobic pathways to generate energy which mainly target carbohydrates (glucose) as fuel.
Hold on now – its not that simple! The twist in the story is that, firstly, the body is designed to use carbohydrates reserves first and only then fats reserves, within reason. And secondly, these fuels for anaerobic pathways last only for less than 10-15 minutes, when used continuously! The body then switches over to fat reserves as the primary fuel, for all ‘prolonged and continuous’ activities.
These facts can be used to your advantage as –
o If you are targeting to lose fat/weight, choose to weight train first – it effectively burns out the carbohydrate reserves – so by the time you hop onto the treadmill, there are very little anaerobic fuels left, and fats reserves are targeted earlier.
o But, if you are targeting to build mass, ignore the above option. Heavy training requires anaerobic fuels primarily, and by doing a prolonged cardio activity (> 30 – 40 min), there is effectively very less reserve left.
o But do remember that after any weight training activity, any cardio activity for 10-15 minutes really helps get the blood pumping and wash off any muscle soreness.
However, every body is different, and what may work wonders on one, may not work on another! So, don’t take these as laws, but try them out and see if it works for you!
§ Current Fitness Status
§ Past exercise record
§ Goals & Objectives
§ Medical Complications or trouble-points
§ Likes and Dislikes
Usually, if you are just beginning a workout routine for the first time, you are termed as a “Beginner”. From here on, you progress on to “Intermediate” and “Advanced” or even “Management” levels.
The type of exercises and their intensity varies with each of these levels. Management level is reached when you have met your goals and just need to maintain the fitness level.
The goals and objectives are one of the most important factors – since they define the base of the program. A person on weight loss will have a different program than someone of fat loss and so on.
Also important are the timelines and the weekly time availability. There are some people who can work out for 2 hours for 6 days a week, but others due to time constraints may be able to give only 30 minutes, 3 days a week or even lesser. The workout has to take into consideration all these factors.
Medical status is required to modify or avoid problematic exercises / movements. Afterall we exercise to become fitter, not get worse!!
The last factor, often ignored, is a very important factor to ensure adherence to any program. Motivation comes when you enjoy the workout – which makes sure you are regular to the gym.
Start Date – No, it’s not just so that the Tele-callers keep reminding you to renew your membership – the start date is important, since the workout must be changed every 2-3 months. This is something that is mostly forgotten by the staff, in the midst of getting new members enrolled – so take note and demand a review, every 3 months at least.
Name & Membership Number – Again, the membership number is not just a number – it could be make or break your life! Why it is important is because – this is the only way, the gym staff can access your PAR-Q information, especially in case of emergency – E.g. in case of an accident involving blood loss, the blood group information on the PAR-Q can save your life!
Metrics (Height/Weight/BMI) – helps to track progress, review your program in case results are not forthcoming. Also helps to keep you motivated!!
Also, the weight / repetitions / sets information used by some of the health clubs is the ideal way to track your progress, and make immediate changes to the program.
Understanding your exercise schedule helps to appreciate your workout and go after the results you desire or after the programmer, who designed your card, if the results are not as expected!!
Being informed is the need of the hour, just to ensure that you can sift through the tonnes of information and make the right choice – that will suit you in all respects, and not just follow popular opinion.
And what better way to start, than understanding the essentials and the ‘workout card’– the piece of paper which can define your life in the short-term and the long-term.
But before that, there are two things that set apart good gyms from the not-so-good ones – a Fitness Test / Assessment and the PAR-Q form.
The Fitness test is a short non-invasive test usually to test your present fitness status under the 3 pillars of fitness – strength, stamina and suppleness. It is very important to design an exercise program so as to suit you and give you the desired results.
Next is the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q) – which asks you for information about your contact information, age, gender, blood group, physical information, present physical activity level, past medical complications, current medications, vices, daily diet and nutritional status, family history of medical complications and other relevant information.
It is very important for any gym to have these details of each and every member – so as to design an effective exercise program, as well as a measure of safety and to avoid any legal obligations / complications.
You should also make sure that your Health club asks you to submit your doctor’s approval (Physician’s Release) in case you have any medical complications or are under any major treatment.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
The fact is that human beings place so much importance on this aspect of human nature – is because of the “feel good” factor that accompanies a good hearty laugh.
The emotions we experience have the power to directly affect our immune and neurological system. Positive emotions enhance secretion of hormones which can counter act the negative effects of stress – and laughter has the power to bring out this positivity.
§ Laughter can negate the effects of stress related hormone- Cortisol, secreted when the body is tensed.
§ Laughter triggers the release of Endorphins—the ‘feel good’ hormone and body's natural painkillers.
§ Laughter has been found to have positive effects on lowering blood pressure and reduce hypertension.
§ Studies have found that, laughter cleanses the lungs of accumulated air as it empties more air than it takes in and is thus beneficial for patients suffering from respiratory ailments.
§ It also exercises our facial muscles and contributes to general well-being.It also promotes our interpersonal and social relations – which have the highest potential to de-stress us.
Although, forceful laughter, as in the case of certain “laughter clubs” does not provide all the benefits of a natural, relaxed laughter, it does seem to be a favourite option with people.
Having a relaxed time with people you like is still a better option – man is, after all a social animal !!
Friday, September 19, 2008
With more and more people across all age groups getting more and more interested in getting fitter (!), health clubs are mushrooming all over the city, each one promising to give you a mind blowing experience, many times better than the others….
There are many other reasons why people choose to enroll into a gym, like work demands especially in the hospitality industry, health problems due to weight etc.
Whatever the reason, over the next few articles, lets see what criteria should be considered while choosing a health club –
PROXIMITY TO WORKPLACE / HOME – Very important factor. Closer the place to you, more are the chances of adherence. After a tiring day at work, no body wants to drive another ten kilometers to go to the gym…
ADVERTISEMENTS – A good way to judge the kind of the financial backing the gym has, but always be aware of the small star (*) following all statements… which says, that “Conditions apply” and may not be the real deal.
STATE OF THE ART EQUIPMENTS – A very important criteria, which as per my experience matters more to the youngsters rather than slightly elderly people. Nonetheless, try to search online about them and find out which is the best company.. Most of the equipments these days are imported, which usually but not necessarily mean good quality. A good quality equipment surely improves the whole experience.
INTERIOR AMBIENCE – While a pleasant ambience definitely improves your whole training experience, but they need not be expensive or very sophisticated. Remember why you are there…. Its definitely not for the interiors...However, do check out the cleanliness of the place, and how it is maintained, especially if you have any allergies or other such problems.
CERTIFIED INSTRUCTORS –
Check for any certificates of international accreditation at the gym premises. Also, do not compromise when it comes to the trainers who are in fact dealing with the most delicate product ever created – the Human Body? Demand a certified trainer.
Also, do not fall into the trap of trainers suggesting various supplements or dietary suggestions. Get them verified from your nutritionist or doctor…
Very very Important factor, but often overlooked.. Safety on the floor may mean proper notices put up, of the possibilities of accidents especially at the free-weight areas. Safety at the premises may mean, presence of first aid and emergency / doctor services, fire safety precautions etc. The most important safety factor could be the trainer himself who must be qualified and preferably certified, especially with a Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certificate.
The packages must be a value for money. Usually, these days most gyms also offer value-adds like grouper sessions along with the basic packages…
One word of caution though – Discounts should not be a deciding factor.
MULTIPLE BRANCHES WITHIN CITY OR COUNTRY–
This may help incase you like variety or if you travel to the locations which have their branches.
VALUE-ADD SERVICES –
Could range from juice bar, cafeteria, fruit bars, parties etc. Although they do add a spunk to your routine, don’t let them rule your decision process. Remember why you are there – you can socialize and eat otherwise also…
Saturday, September 13, 2008
But seriously, this is the most ignored area that generally brings along with it a host of problems down the road. Partying late night, watching movies till late night, studying till late night or working till late night and then getting up early the next day, over a period of time causes a long list of problems, which has also been a favourite topic of research among researchers.
It is only when you sleep, that the growth hormones are secreted by the master glands in the human body – which regulate the entire metabolism on the body and the body’s responses to various stimuli. It is important to get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep everyday.
· A good amount of sleep affects memory efficiency through improving the storage and retrieval of information. It also improves alertness.
· Less sleep affects the endocrine system – thereby altering the secretion and levels of hormones in the body – which affect weight, mood, appetite, and immune system.
· Chronic deprivation of sleep leads to weight gain, and makes it difficult to lose weight.
· Research has shown that chronic sleep deprivation also causes errors in judgement – thereby leading to a higher rate of accidents, mishaps and injuries. It is also said to promote “road rage” – as we like to call it.
· Lack of sleep leads to irritability, road rage, anger, depression, loss of concentration, lowered ability to think and take decisions, moodiness etc.
· Chronic lack of sleep also gives rise to digestion problems, constipation, ulcers, flatulence etc. it also causes drug / alcohol / tobacco cravings leading to drug abuse.
· Sleep deprivation also lowers the immune system of the body and hence makes you easily prone to common infections or other problems.
· It also supports hypertension, diabetes, obesity, heart problems, cancer indirectly through weight gain, hormonal imbalances and low immunity.
· Sleep is also very important for recovery and rest after heavy bouts of exercises, especially if you want to build muscles.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Never ever thought I would see this day, since I have always preached the opposite - that you cant work effectively under pressure.....
However, after intense self -analysis, I realized why this happens is because - I like to stick to my values!! Coz, like they say...at the end of the day - you have to sleep with yourself !!!
Hmm… I’m sure a lot of our hardworking ancestors must be turning around in their graves, but ask any youngster about his future plans – and you will definitely hear MBA in it!!
Ask him why – and you will hear – big money, rich way of life and better marriage prospects!!
No doubt the Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degree is one of the most sought after degrees, and most of the graduates do get into reputed and leading companies. And the most surprising part is that – even the new institutes that come up every year, with absolutely no experience and track record, run their MBA courses full packed with students!!! God is great!!!
Another observation is that while many of the successful people are MBA graduates and vice versa – that is most of the MBA graduates are successful… there are still many of them who … frankly speaking, can’t speak or work for nuts!!
I have personally come across many so called ‘MBA’ graduates who can’t even introduce themselves, or draft an application letter, with absolutely no professional manners or even design a decent resume or …the list is endless….. And yet, they want nothing less than 6 lakhs per annum packages as freshers!!
Anything less than that… and they crib, curse and blame everything and everyone – but themselves…
So what am I trying to say? – I am saying that while getting an MBA is all fine, I have always believed that “Nothing teaches you like LIFE” – no school, no college!!
Academics are all fine, but it needs much more to make a personality and more importantly a good character. Getting a good job is easy…keeping it - is what hurts!!
Only life teaches you the importance of values like integrity, responsibility, commitment, perseverance, respect, teamwork etc. etc., the value of a good character.. and most importantly that “there are still no shortcuts to success“.
All successful people are successful because they have learnt the importance of values in their lives and have realized that there are no shortcuts to success…. unless of course, you are born to the Ambani’s, the Tata’s, the Birla’s or the Donald Trump family!! Or you happen to have links in the underworld or with our dear politicians!!! Allright, apart from the last two, I am sure the others have also had their share of hardwork!!
So Moral of the story is that – An MBA doesn’t define your life.. Join that cultural group, volunteer for the social event.. Explore, experience and experiment with life, especially in the college years.. Understand your shortcomings or weaknesses and work on them… challenge yourself to be the best!!
I’ m sure it will be the wisest investment you make….
Oh, I am planning to start a course in - “MBA – Life Management”… Any one interested?????
I know what you’re thinking, but if you happen to be actress Shilpa Shetty, then you go and make a Yoga CD!!
Ironically, Yoga, which is originally an Indian contribution to the world, is more popular in the west, than it is in India… and, as we Indians have a fascination for anything phirang / westernized, we finally seem to have woken up to the benefits of Yoga.
Yoga is undoubtedly a complete mind-body exercise, with benefits ranging from increased concentration, improved ability to deal with stress and tensions in life to helping Diabetics and almost all special populations. Yoga asanas, although not specific to weight loss, do help in weight management to some extent.
Yoga centres are mushrooming in every nook and corner in every city, with self-confessed Yoga experts offering a range of programs for everything right from weight loss, increase in height (Mission Remotely Possible) to de-stress, and relax your body, mind and soul.
What goes un-noticed is that these so-called Yoga experts, call themselves so, without any formal training or education in human anatomy and physiology as well as about the science of Yoga.
What appals me is that on one hand, there are experts, who have spent years trying to master the science and different postures and techniques of Yoga, and then there are those who claim to be experts in just a few months of self-practice.
Yoga is a science, and must be understood in-depth. Like any other field, the trainer must have formal education to start instructing. After all, you are dealing with other human bodies and in-turn their lives! You must stick to what you know and avoid preaching what you don’t know.
If you are watching a CD and doing it, half the time your concentration is towards the CD, which is completely against the basic aim of Yoga. You just cant relax!
A lot of people, cant follow the postures the way they are shown, and need modifications or the use of props, which only experts know and must be done under guidance.
But there is one good point in all this – atleast the otherwise carefree teenagers are becoming more and more health conscious and finding ways to get healthier and fitter…
Well, what can I say… tomorrow I might just start writing a book on “101 ways to control your spending”! Oh, I am damn good at it !!Will keep you posted on that!!!!
“Rise up, and don’t you fall down again“, blaring out of the woofers, flashy lights streaming all over the room, and everybody in the world in a small room…. its party time !!!
Work smarter (and not harder) and party harder, seems to be the motto these days of the young and the restless – right from the spiked-hair teenager to our dear oldies, who believe that life begins after 50 !!
Socializing into the wee hours of the night, has always been there, but seeing that the chunk of the crowd at all discs and pubs are youngsters is alarming..
When asked, a leading psychologist explains – these days, youngsters are either getting more and more financially grounded at a young age or with nuclear families, rich parents and busy lives, they have access to loads of money. Moreover, the kids spend more time with their friends and as such, many activities, like partying, smoking, drinking etc, are a result of peer-pressure. The emotionally insecure ones think of partying, drinking, smoking as “cool” things to do, so as to win peer support, as well as admiration from the opposite sex!!
As a personal philosophy, I believe there is a good, bad and ugly part to everything.. So here comes the gyaan (yawn! yawn!) Well, inconvenience caused is regretted….
The good part is that, all the socializing and clubbing, makes the youngsters quite conscious of their health and their physical appearance, which makes them frequent the gym regularly, with high aims. And when I say high aims, I mean they will not settle for anything less than Salman or Hrithik biceps, Sharukh abs etc. etc. And how can we forget our own indigenous production (!) the size zero lady – Kareena Kapoor, for all the ladies…
In fact, most of the gyms boast of almost 60% of their clientele as young people below 30 years of age!!
Exercising has a long list of benefits and helps to de-stress in these stressful times of ours! Exercise helps to –
Release the happy hormone ‘Endorphin’ and the feel-good hormone ‘Dopamine’ in ample quantities which help deal with stress and other tensions.
It strengthens the body – internally and externally, with positive effects on the immune system and the overall body.
It helps avoid unwanted weight gain, due to all the junk food and colas that we down our throats daily!
Well, I have a list of 101 benefits of exercising…. But I will stop here, since I really want you to read further down !!
Hmmm.. the bad part, is because too much of anything is bad! The impatient amongst the lot resort to shortcuts to achieve instant results. Examples are when you see already wafer-thin girls starving themselves to attain that elusive ‘ perfect’ figure, leading to medical complications like * Anorexia Nervosa or ** Bulimia Nervosa, which can even be life threatening. With guys, a very common problem is the use of steroids and other “power / mass“ or energy formulas, which promise them instant results in their quest for those biceps and abs !! The side effects of these include life-threatening complications like kidney failures, liver problems etc.
Moreover, too much of partying and hence drinking, smoking also burns a huge hole in our already porous pockets!!
And, lastly the ugly part – is when we see youngsters going a step too far, and resorting to drugs, rave parties, and other illegal behaviours. Most of the drugs are addictive, and hence getting out of the mess becomes very difficult, which affects everything and everyone around…
Well, moral of the story is that - enjoy life RESPONSIBLY, PLAY SAFE and stay within limits….
* Anorexia Nervosa – Eating disorder, in which girls starve themselves to death, due to an obsessive fear of putting on weight, characterized by a low body weight and extreme methods of weight control.
** Bulimia Nervosa – Eating disorder, characterised with binge eating, and immediately purging it out of the system using extreme methods.
Most of the students and working professionals look towards partying to de-stress and refresh themselves after a gruelling day at work or after finishing off studies. It sure is a great choice to just relax and catch up with friends after putting in 10-12 hours at work !!!
However, letting your hair down and letting the night carry you away could have many disastrous effects on the body as well –
· Partying late at night disturbs the body biorhythms and may cause many problems like indigestion, constipation, flatulence, acne, lethargy, lack of concentration.
· These get worse, if they are accompanied with lack of sleep, as in the case of people who have to get up early the next morning!
Infact, recently there was a research done, which found lack of sleep as a major cause of obesity.
· Partying is mostly accompanied by eating and drinking late at night, which itself causes a whole range of problems including those mentioned above.
· Eating out late at night helps build your ‘paunch’, which is a common sight these days with everybody. This kind of central extra flab not only causes internal problems, but also affects your postural balance, thereby giving rise to lower back problems, etc.
· Also, alcohol has a tendency to dehydrate your body. Dehydration can have adverse effects on the blood flow to the body and brain and hence cause many problems.
So, although it seems like a great way to de-stress, you have to be careful and counter the ill-effects of late night partying, by eating right and early, drinking lots of water, getting enough sleep, and regular exercise.
I am sure all of us stretch out at some or the other point during the day – may be in the morning, just as you get out of bed or may be after getting out of the car after an hour-long drive or may be just reclining back on the chair during the break etc. etc.
A simple stretch helps to boost the blood circulation and thus helps us feel energized.
The muscles in our body are made up of fibres and are connected to the joints through tendons, whose length, elasticity and few other factors define the range of motion across the joints which they connect.
If these get shortened, as is the case with prolonged sitting or any prolonged activity like typing, driving, lying etc. then the range of motion decreases, thereby increasing the risk of injury, even while performing activities of daily living, like taking something off the shelf or trying to dry clothes etc.
To avoid this, a few minutes of stretching must be included in your daily routine. This may be done irrespective of whether you exercise or not, any time of the day. For those who exercise, the passive stretches are usually done after the workout as a part of the cool down, and also helping in reducing muscle soreness and shortening.
Stretching is a great way to de-stress since –
· It improves flexibility, which reduces as one ages.
· You are able to maintain / increase your range of motion, which means your limbs and joints can move further before an injury occurs.
· Stretches out the shortened muscles, thereby easing muscle tension and relieving stress.
· Increased blood circulation, thereby flushing out the toxins.
· Energizes you, since fresh blood gets delivered to the active muscle.
· It can be used to better the posture by balancing the shortened muscle.
However, one very important factor – for those who do not precede it with any exercise – is to warm up you body a little before getting into the stretches.
Cold muscle stretches less, and is also prone to injury and tears.
Also remember to hold the stretch continuously (without bouncing) for a minimum of 20 -30 seconds for greater benefits.
Most importantly, when you stretch, “slight discomfort” is the word, and not “pain”. In other words, the stretching should never feel painful or unbearable.
Consult an expert for the right techniques, and don’t TRY STUNTS AT HOME !!
Thursday, August 14, 2008
These days, a lot of people across all backgrounds, look forward to a weekly / monthly massage to de-stress and de-tox themselves. This is only evident from the number of spas and massage centers that are coming up in all corners of the city, offering a wide range of simple to exotic services.
Read on for benefits of massage therapy -
· A massage is a combination of stroking, pressing and kneading different areas of the body to relieve pain, relax, stimulate, and tone the body.
· It works on the skin and soft tissues immediately beneath the skin to improve their tone and increase blood circulation to these areas. This is especially helpful, in case of people who sit for long hours, thereby affecting blood circulation in the lower limb, and especially the back region.
· Improved circulation of fresh oxygenated blood to the skin, detoxifies the skin, and leaves you feeling and looking fresh and rejuvenated.
· It also has a positive effect on the lymphatic system (which runs parallel to the circulatory system), improving the elimination of waste throughout the body, and thereby providing a detoxification effect.
· Massage therapy is used extensively by sportspersons to prevent strains and injuries that might otherwise occur due to excess tension, overuse or any problems resulting from structural problems like stiff joints etc.
· It also relaxes the body, and hence calms down the heart and reduces anxiety, tension etc.
· Through its effect on the nervous system, massage has a positive effect on the digestive system as well as the endocrine system and related problems.The latest massages which include aroma-therapy based massages and deep-tissue massages, which reach the deeper layers of muscle and possibly even the organs themselves, and help in promoting health.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
For the layman, Yoga makes you feel healthier—in mind, body and spirit, fresher, more energized and composed, thus making a strong & tough mind and body.
Yoga means “Yuj” Or “Union” of the Self with the Divine Consciousness. The postures and meditation techniques are a methodology to attain that goal.
There are different styles of Yoga-- most common & widely practiced being the ”Ashtanga Yoga” & “Hatha Yoga”, which teaches a number of postures, and breathing techniques…
Even if you don’t believe in the spiritual side of Yoga, you can still practice it, for the number of health benefits it delivers.
-It helps manage or control anxiety, arthritis, depression, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, blood pressure, headaches, back pain (most common problem), Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, heart problems.
- Improves Flexibility (one of the important fitness aspects), Muscle tone, strength, and stamina.
- Yoga also helps to strengthen the respiratory system, thus helping with problems, like asthma, etc.
- Improves concentration, memory and self-esteem, mental toughness.
- Improves facial and skin texture, voice, and improves circulation in general.
- Stimulates the immune system, and is not age-specific.
- Helps control abnormalities of the Hormonal (Endocrine) System, especially of the Thyroid Gland, and its secretions, which contribute to effective functioning of the body.
- They massage and tone the internal organs, which improves their blood circulation.
- The Twisting Poses, Forward Bends, like Half-seated twists (Ardha-Matsyendrasana), Plough (Halasana), Bow, etc. stimulate the Pancreas to manage insulin levels better, which inturn can help manage Diabetes.
- Helps in weight management, by boosting metabolism.
- Yoga also helps in case of pregnant women, where postures like the Cobbler pose, etc. are useful.
Getting back to the topic of discussion, it also helps to effectively deal with stress, and related problems like stomach disorders, constipation, insomnia, etc.
Not only that while practicing meditation as a part of Yoga, the brain sends out an increased amount of alpha-waves, which relaxes the mind and body, and gives a feeling of rejuvenation.
The yoga exercises are not fast and forceful, but instead involve slow and steady movements, which incorporate the whole body and mind, hence, a favorite among the elderly.
Yoga is a form of “Mental Gym” for the mind, which controls the body, and inturn all the problems and ailments.
Lastly, but one of the most important advantages of yoga lies in its ability to correct the ostural imbalances.
As a result of faulty posture over the years, especially a sedentary lifestyle, adaptive shortening and muscular strength imbalances, the major joints in the body, like the neck, knee, and the lower back region are subjected to a lot of stress, which causes lower-back pain, and other problems.
It can be used to relieve tension in the muscles of the neck, lower-back, forearm, those around the eyes, common among the corporate professionals, working with the computer for long hours.
Not to dis-regard the importance of other forms of exercises, safe to say that a little Yoga incorporated into the daily fitness routine, along with exercises focusing on Strength, Stamina, can be used as a holistic approach to wellness.
Thus, I hope the above discussion proves that presence/absence of stress need not be the dictating factor to practice Yoga…Practice it to know it!!!!!
Even the most shy person, if put in a room with music, and promised invisibility to the world, will dance…
Dancing is a great way to de-stress.. It is a complete package – right from the de-stressing effect, to calorie burning, to cardio advantage and many more, as we will see below –
· Most of the dance forms provide a cardio workout to the body – since usually they involve continuous movements usually for more than an half an hour. A cardio workout enhances blood circulation to all parts of the body, and hence helps flush toxins out of the body.
· Dancing along with music, boosts the secretion of feel good hormones like ‘dopamine’ and ‘endorphins’..
· The increased blood flow to the skin, rejuvenates the skin. No amount of beauty creams can give you the effect obtained by the internal rejuvenation of skin.
· Also, increased blood flow due to a cardio activity to all body parts, also takes care of problems like indigestion, constipation, which can also have a very stressing effect on the body and your productivity.
· For all of us (especially me!) who can’t bear the monotony of running on a treadmill for more than 10 minutes, dancing is a better way to get the much needed cardio workout.
· Most importantly, usually most of the dance sessions happen in a group – this provides motivation and healthy competition amongst the participants, which ends up as a good challenging workout.
· In case you are recovering from a surgery / injury etc. a low impact dance is your best option to get your cardio workout going, and which will also indirectly aid the rehabilitation process.
· And most importantly, dancing being a cardio activity, helps in calorie burning.. It has been proved that an hour of dancing burns anything between 200 to 400 calories, depending on the kind of dance. A light body reduces a lot of stress…
· Dancing is a very adaptable kind of a physical activity – A youngster can participate in high-impact dances like bollywood dance, hip-hop etc.. while an elderly person can participate in any low-impact dance forms like Salsa, Jive or all other forms of Latin dancing.
So.. hunt for those dancing shoes, and dance away your blues !!
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Money can buy 'almost' everything........ but not love and happiness !!
The purpose of life, is to find your higher purpose in this world...
Seek, and you shall find !!
Patience, Faith, Perseverance, and Forebearance (Shraddha, Saburi, Titiksha...)
The poor who love each other, are the richest people in the world..
As you sow, so shall you reap...
Love thy neighbours, as you would want them to love you !!
Live life with no regrets..everything that you did at any point of time, was just the thing you wanted to do at that time....
Never take anything / anyone for granted.
Never underestimate anyone.
Circumstances maketh a man!!
Do your best, and let God do the rest !!
When you want something truly and deeply, the universe conspires to give it to you !
Never expect anything from anyone.
Only those who risk going too far, can possibly find out how far they can go !!
There is always a right time for everything...
If there is a problem, there will be a solution..
When there is a will, there is a way.
You can fight the entire world.. its much easier.. but fighting your own loved ones, there can never be anything more demotivating than that...
Multitasking is an art
Sometime back, there were a few articles about a leading doctor, who played music, while performing surgery! And another instance, when a doctor plays some instrument in the hospital wards, for his patients !!
Ritual drumming, music mantras, rhythmic prayers have been existing since ages. Everything in nature and the human body works in a rhythm, and hence music and its rhythm help relax the body.
According to the brain waves theory, the human brain generates four kinds of waves – alpha, beta, theta and delta. When you are talking, working etc. your brain generates beta waves. But when you sit down, and relax and calm yourself down, relaxing waves like alpha waves and some theta waves are generated. And when you fall asleep, the brain generates what are known as delta waves.
Slow Music promotes the release of alpha and theta waves, which have a calming effect on the body and cells.
Slow Music also affects the autonomic nervous system, which controls our breathing and heart rate, in our body. Music slows down the heart rate and promotes relaxation.
It also slows down the blood pressure in the body.
Slow, calming music is a perfect relaxation tool, since it helps ease tensed muscles.
Music is said to promote optimism, creativity and a positive state of mind.
Music has been one of the preferred options when dealing with special populations like cancer patients, diabetics, those with attention deficit disorders (ADD) or suffering from insomnia, or depression and many other complications.
And the best part about using music as a tool for stress management is its ease and simplicity of use!
You don’t have to force yourself to sit down in a session and then listen to music..
You can do it while you are taking a bath, while you are cooking, while you are eating, in the car on the way to office and back and absolutely any place! And moreover, it need not be some sophisticated music, it could be anything that you like, and feel comfortable with…
Well, beyond doubts, it is the most common word of this century – STRESS !
The next couple of articles will focus on STRESS and different ways of STRESS MANAGEMENT.
So read on …
Technically put, STRESS – is a situation or feeling experienced when the demands of life exceed the personal and environmental resources available for use, to a person..
The word STRESS has always been viewed negatively.. But ideally a little amount of stress helps to keep us working to our full potential and prove ourselves in critical circumstances.
Stress releases powerful neurochemicals and hormones that prepare us for action (Fight or Flight response), which if not controlled create a long list of problems..
STRESS is divided into 2 main types – Acute (something due to a sudden temporary situation like a missed meeting deadline etc.) and Chronic (cumulative stress over the years due to incidents in life etc.)
Too much of anything is bad enough – and hence STRESS causes –
Tensed muscles of the neck, forehead and shoulder
Emotionally induced eating – which is one of the leading reasons causing weight gain
Digestive problems including ulcers,
High blood pressure, nervousness and excessive sweating, heart disease, strokes
· Emotional Problems like - anxiety, anger, depression, irritability, frustration, over-reaction to everyday problems, memory loss and a lack of concentration for any task.
· Social problems like - withdrawal from society, phobias, compulsive behaviors, eating disorders and night terrors.And of-course the weak-willed amongst us take up drugs, alcohol, smoking etc. to deal with it!!
What appalls me is the quality of the workout or whatever they make you do under the name of “aerobics”.
However, if you are reading this, I know that you are truly interested in your health and fitness status, and hence the following guidelines will help you get the best results out of the 1 hour that you spend in the aerobic class –
1) At the beginning of the class, check your Heart Rate [place your index and the middle finger towards the medial part, where the wrist begins, and count the pulses for 10 seconds. Multiply it by 6 to get the bpm (beats per minute) reading]. Consider this as your Starting Heart Rate (SHR).
Now, for effective fat and weight loss, your heart rate has to be in a targeted zone.
A very simple formula is –
Target Heart Rate = Between MHR x 0.6 and MHR x 0.7 (for beginners)
Where, MHR = 220 – Your Age.
For example, if I am 40 years old, then
MHR = 220 – 40 = 180 &
THR = 180 x 0.6 = 108 bpm and THR = 180 x 0.7 = 126 bpm
This means, while working out, your Heart Rate has to be between 108 bpm and 126 bpm, measured in the same way, as mentioned above.
Being above or below these ranges does not give the desired results.
2) Aerobic workouts are designed to go on continuously for 45 minutes to an hour, since the fat burning mechanism of the body kicks into action only for prolonged durations. As such, there should not be too much of very high intensity moves likes kicks, jumps etc., since fatigue sets in and exercising for 45-60 min becomes difficult. Fat burning happens when the activity is sustained for at least more than 25 to 30 minutes.
Here are a few other things that I have commonly observed, and which need to be avoided –
3) Do not stop suddenly in between the session or after doing a cardio session.
While doing any cardio activity, which generally uses the leg muscles, all the blood is directed towards the legs (blood pooling). When you stop suddenly, the blood, due to gravity, pools in the legs, causing a reduced blood supply to the brain, and hence may make you feel dizzy.
Solution – Keep moving, walking, or marching, and gradually come to a stop at the end of a high-intensity routine.
4) While using a STEP in the Aerobics batch, always remember to stay near the STEP (maximum of 1 foot away), very uncommonly seen in the sessions. Stepping far away, increase the lower back curvature, putting excess stresses on your spine, thereby increasing your chances of lower back problems.
5) Another very commonly observed problem, is when people are constantly on their forefoot, and forget to place their whole feet on the ground, especially pronounced during a STEP session.
This is especially pronounced, when the music is very fast. Constant movement on the forefoot, shortens your calves and Achilles tendon, and gives rise to inflammation or tightness of the calves and nearby muscles.
Solution – Make a conscious effort to place your full feet on the ground, during the floor or STEP sessions.
6) And last but not the least, remember to sip water in between the workout to avoid de-hydration.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Needless to say, that it is becoming increasingly common in the local scenes as well, with the short, not very tall and even tall girls and ladies opting for 3 and 4 inch heeled shoes. No doubt it looks very elegant, but yet it is a huge price to pay in the long run.
Anatomically speaking, a high heeled shoe causes your foot to go into plantar flexion (sole of the foot facing backwards), placing tremendous pressure on your forefoot.
This causes a shift in the centre of mass; your body adjusts its balance by making the lower part of your body lean forward and the upper part of your body lean backward. This puts increased pressure on the joints in the body, especially the distorting the S-curve of vertebral column, and leads to lower back pain, muscle imbalances etc.
While walking also, it becomes difficult to push off from the ball of your feet, at every step and puts more stress on the hip flexor muscles as well as the knee joint, which remains bent most of the time.
Some of the negative effects of heeled shoes are -
Mis-alignment in the body, especially of the lower limb.
Shortened & Tight Calf Muscles
Shortened Achilles Tendon, which might lead to Tendonitis
Lower Back Pain
Tight Gluteus muscles
A few tips on living with heeled shoes -
Restrict the use of heels to very special occasions
It has been found that a 1 ½ to 2 inch heel is quite bearable, for short durations.
Once home, warm-up a little and stretch out your calf, gluteus, hip flexor and lower back muscles.
Hit the gym regularly to strengthen your lower limb muscles to withstand the stress.
Try to go in for heels with comfortable straps behind, to ensure better foot alignment during multi-lateral movements.
Massage the bottom of your foot by rolling a small ball under the ball of your foot for about two minutes.
Friday, June 20, 2008
its not kitty parties….its the aerobics sessions at your gym.
Aerobics sessions are a great stress buster, calorie-burner, and make for an enjoyable cardio workout.
They are ideally designed to be low-impact (since one foot is always in contact with the floor) activities done using different moves on the floor or using the STEP to a rhythmic count sequence.
Aerobic dancing involves quick lateral movements, jumping, and leaping for extended periods of time usually lasting for an hour, and hence the shoes must have -
Good medial-lateral (side-to-side) stability.
Sufficient cushioning and shock absorption to compensate for pressure on the foot, which is many times greater than found in walking.
The tongue of the shoe should be thick, and the lace mechanism has to be perfectly fitting, to provide forefoot stability.
Make sure shoes have a toe box that is high enough to prevent irritation of toes and nails.
Basically, you should look out for shoes that provide lateral stability, support while permitting both twisting and turning.
Now, I am sure, after reading last few articles, you must be calculating the investment required, just for shoes !!!
Well there is a solution, my friends !!!! They are called “ Crosstrainers”.
They can also be used for your fitness routine, which involves running, walking, weight lifting and for some sports.
Running or walking shoes are built for the forward motion of running, and do not provide any stability to the ankle for side-to-side motion; only cross-trainers are designed to prevent injury and support lateral moves.
You should also wear cross-trainers when weight-lifting, because they provide the most multi-directional support.
Most cross-trainers have a wider outsole than running or walking shoes, which contributes to their excellent stability for lateral motion.They are designed to be used for multiple activities, and hence a good investment if your routine consists of multiple activities.Well…. that sounds relieving, I hope !!!!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Running places impact forces on the point of contact – the heel, which are more than 3 to 5 times body weight, and which can wreak havoc on the ankle, knee, hip and lower back joints.
Hence, 3 main considerations arise-
Shock needs to be absorbed and dissipated or reflected, which is usually done using various shock absorbing materials or springy materials etc.
Lateral support and stability is needed to stop the foot tilting excessively inwards or outwards, leading to twisting, ankle sprains etc.
Also, look for a shoe that is light weight and breathable.
Running requires far more cushioning and stability than walking, but of course running shoes can be used for walking, if the fit is comfortable
Runners land almost flat footed while walkers land on their heels. A walker's foot hits heel first and then rolls gradually from heel-to-toe. So, you will need a flexible sole and more bend in the toe than a runner. You should be able to twist and bend the toe area.
Have you noticed that your old shoe has worn out more on the outer or the inner part? This can be explained by the different foot types, which need to be considered, to avoid joint problems.
Use the “Wet Test” to know your foot type –
Dip your feet in water, and then stand on a piece of cardboard / paper bag / dry surface, and then look at the imprint.
Flat foot – runners have low arch, which may lead to knee and hip / lower back problems. Their shoes need excellent motion control and this must be mentioned while buying shoes to the professional.
High Arched – runners have rigid, inflexible feet, which puts them at risk for ankle injuries and stress fractures. Their shoes need a lot of cushioning in the mid-sole region of the shoe, and must be mentioned to the professional while buying.
Remember that a good shoe is a long-term investment for a pain-free life ahead!!!
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Here it is........................
" There comes a point in one's life, when his life appears like a stage -
People come....... People go........
People come.... in order to go, and
People go... with no intent of return
And when they do return... they return as one's past !!!
I’m a housewife, so I’m moving around the house the whole day. That’s exercise right? So why should I exercise more?
Exercise!!!! I’m so thin! Ill become even thinner! Why should I exercise?
Exercise? I’m 40 years old! It’s too late to start now!
Sounds familiar? How many times have we come across clearly overweight housewives or professionals, who are constantly on the move the whole day, but yet find themselves heading towards the “XL” section while shopping?
Or our grandparents who think they are too old to exercise!
The basic point that these people are missing, is that exercise need not be restricted to just losing weight, or for the younger population.
That’s where the concept of fitness comes into picture. Fitness is a complete holistic development of an individual-social, mental, and emotional, and not merely the absence of diseases.
Exercise promotes the wellness quotient of an individual. Want to know how?
► It reduces your risk for getting heart diseases, weight related problems, hypertension, chances of a stroke, cancer and other stress-related problems.
► Relieves stress & tension headaches, anxiety disorders, simultaneously boosting the body immunity against infections, and diseases.
► It improves glucose tolerance, which helps prevent the onset of diabetes.
► It also improves your digestive system functioning, helps fight gastric distress, constipation, etc.
► For females, it reduces the menstrual disorders, PMS, and chances of different forms of cancer.
Not only this, but exercise does wonders for your Emotional Wellness Quotient as well, since it
► It releases endorphins & enkephalins, which help battle stress.
► It improves your physical appearance, skin texture, and as a result your self-esteem.
► It helps to alleviate depression, anxiety.
Moreover, you cant overlook the fact that we are aging by the day, and consequently losing muscle and bone mass, and are prone to put on weight even with our same eating habits.
Means, we start heading towards the “XL” section while shopping!!!!!!
Again, exercise helps to,
► Increase muscle tissue mass, as response to weight training.
► Increase bone density, which helps the chances of developing osteoporosis
► Improves and maintains joint flexibility, and ligament strength, thus reducing possibilities muscle tears, fractures, etc.
► Helps correct postural imbalances, resulting from faulty posture over the years.
► Enhances sexual desire, performance & satisfaction.
Really, exercise is like a free tonic for looking and feeling great. Maximum returns with minimum investment! Controlling your diet alone has very little long-term effectiveness!!!
What’s the use of wasting all our hard earned money on medical and hospital bills?
Yes…. The right pair of shoes very much determines the effectiveness of you exercise routine. In fact, every activity you do, demands a specific kind of shoe. For example, shoes used for walking are different than shoes used for running, and so on. We will cover the right shoes required for three most common activities – walking, jogging / running, aerobics sessions at gyms.
There are basically 4 considerations that define your choice of the right shoe-
Foot Alignment - Your feet can turn out, point straight ahead or turn in.
Knee Alignment – are they bowed, neutral or knock-kneed.
Height of the Medial Arch under the feet – are they normal or flat, touching the ground
Nature of Ankle Joint – Due to lax or tight ligaments, your foot can either be very flexible, which is not very stable or it can be over rigid, which is very stabile, but lacks good shock absorption.
In other cases, where one foot is shorter than the other, specially designed shoes are required.
Improper footwear can lead to joint injuries, shin splints, lower back problems, knee problems, plantar fascitis, myocitis, muscle pulls and many related problems, since when you are running or brisk-walking, the pressure on the joints is more than thrice your own body weight.
Most of the times, branded shoe manufacturers use demographic considerations while designing the shoes.
However, here are a few things about the right shoe
Shoes should be lightweight, with soft cushioning inside.
Soles should be flexible, yet it shouldn’t be able to bend or twist them
There should be at least an inch space between your toe and the front end of the shoe
Make purchases in the evening time, since your feet swell up a little over the day, and would ensure comfort at all times.
The heel of the shoe should have good shock-absorbing material, since it is the first point of contact as your feet touch the ground.
The in-soles should support the natural foot arch.
Check shoes for air flow—do they have porous fabric or air holes to ensure good ventilation inside?
Place the shoe on the floor and push it forward. If it easily slides forward, then it has poor tread design or smooth bottom and can lead to slips and falls.
Generally seen amongst those with sedentary lifestyles, long hours of sitting cause muscle imbalances among the front (primarily Quadriceps group, which get stretched) and the rear (primarily Hamstrings group, which get shortened) thigh muscles. Tight Hamstrings pull the adjacent muscles (especially the gluteus, what we call butt) thus giving rise to LBP.
One of the other reasons is, when the person is centrally obese. The extra weight in the front is being constantly pulled down by gravity, to counter act, the postural muscles at the lower back region get into a state of constant tension, giving rise to lower back problems.
Apart from this, there can be other reasons like, flatulence, slip disc, protruding discs etc. which give rise to LBP.
It is very important to know the underlying cause for LBP, since every cause has a different treatment.
Muscular imbalances causing LBP have to be treated with a combination of stretches and strengthening exercises – Stretch the tight muscles first and then strengthen the loose muscles. Other causes may involve strengthening the back muscles, once the pain is under control.
Try This ….
A simple way to assess whether you will have LBP in the future --
Stand and Reach Test –Lower back and Hamstring Flexibility Test (only for those with no LBP)
Stand straight with your feet together and hands beside your body. Lift the hands straight up and bend forward, as much as you can, but without any discomfort.
If your hands are way above your ankle – it means you have tight hamstrings and prone to LBP
As the name suggests, there is a circuit (a chain which starts and ends at the same place) of different exercises or “stations” positioned closely. You have to perform the exercise at each station, in rapid succession, without rest in between, until you finish the circuit. Rests are allowed in between circuits.
Circuit Training is a form of Interval Training,
Where work and rest are interspersed -
No two successive exercises focus on the same body part. As a simple example, if you perform a squat (exercise for legs) at one station, you may not exercise legs again in the same circuit, or at least not until next 4 to 5 stations, depending on the nature of the circuit -
In which strength / resistance exercises are combined with endurance / aerobic exercises, thus combining the benefits of both a cardiovascular (Peripheral Heart Action effect) and strength training workout.
Generally designed to provide a whole body workout.
Can be done using minimal equipments and/or calisthenics
It is also recommended for beginners for a full-body conditioning workout.
Generally done in a group, hence can be fun and enjoyable
Its time efficient – you can design to cover all three aspects of Fitness – Strength, Stamina and Suppleness in the same workout, where 1 circuit can get over in as less as 3 minutes!!
Not very suitable if your aim is to build muscle, since the intensity used is generally very low.
Boredom sets in after sometime
However, with creativity and the right guide, it can surely be a great way to be fit, especially when done in a group.
But the question is – which one is the most important?
Let us see an example. Mr.“ Huge Chest-Back-Biceps-Triceps ” is being chased by a dog. Now, although the dog may look like a speck of dust in front of him, in reality, he may not be able to run for his life. Focusing on just pumping iron will not develop his stamina. The principle of Specificity can be a double-edged sword, and hence has to be used effectively.
Moral of the story is that, fitness must be defined as a perfect blend of strength, stamina, and flexibility, which focuses on making the daily activities of life seem effortless. This is especially so in case of the elder population, where in the need is – functional fitness i.e. being able to carry out day to day activities easily & independently.
Functional Fitness is a revolutionary approach, which focuses on optimal development of strength, stamina, flexibility, based on the individual lifestyle.
The key to functional exercise is Integration. It's about teaching all the muscles to work together rather than isolating them to work independently."
The basic aim being, making the Activities of Daily living easier, and reduce the risk of injury. Due to its individualized approach, it will be different for people even within the same age group!
Key elements of Functional Training:
Strengthen the Core :
The core (Abdominal & lower back region) forms the foundation that supports proper body movement& stabilizes the spine.
Most strengthening exercises use one’s own body weight, like in Pilate’s.
Weight-bearing exercises require balance of muscle strength & endurance about each joint.
Latest trends include Stability balls, Core-boards, Wobble-boards, BOSUs, which provide an unstable surface.
A simple idea is to do regular gym exercises, balancing the body on one leg, like one-legged free squats. Or just try balancing body on one leg while standing and then switch sides.
Most traditional exercise machines work muscles in one plane only. Real life takes place in three planes.
Use conditioning techniques that account the ways you actually move in respect to your daily activities.
Conditioning must include multi-joint exercises using both upper and lower body together, while maintaining a proper spine alignment.
Coordination and body awareness in everyday activities is very important. This gets improved whenever “balancing” is required.
So out with the old, and in with the new!!
There is always enough room for improvement. As such, instead of focusing on cosmetic fitness, which may not serve any useful purpose, be wise and opt for functional fitness, for optimum gains.
Excess waist circumference is directly related to excess abdominal fat (adiposity), which is not only subcutaneous (under the skin) but more of visceral (around the important organs).
Excess fat deposition around the waist
Hampers the function of the Pancreas, liver etc. which gives rise to insulin resistance – which is one of the factors defining Diabetes.
Gives rise to obesity-related problems esp. like atherosclerosis (fat deposition around the walls of the arteries)
Increases your risk of metabolic disorders, heart attacks, strokes etc.
Increases the risks during pregnancy, in case of women
In women who are going through the menopause, it is common to see the waist size rising with or without their weight really increasing
The risk for health problems is high if you are a
· man with a waist measurement greater than 40 in (~ 102 cm)
· woman with a waist measurement greater than 35 in ( ~ 90cm)
Until recently, WHR (Waist-to-Hip Ratio) was considered as the benchmark method to assess health complications.
Men need a WHR which is less than 0.9, and women with a ratio less than 0.75 for low health risks.
WHR is a better predictor of mortality in older people than Body Mass Index (BMI).
The problem with BMI is that it can't differentiate muscle from flab. It also doesn't quantify or locate the fat deposits which is important since carrying extra fat around your waist may be unhealthier than having extra fat around your hips.
Welcome to this new breed of people, who seem to be obsessed with a certain type of body figure, which may/may not seem attainable, many a times idolizing TV or film personalities. Needless to say, that teenagers and adults between the age of 20-35 yrs form a major chunk of this breed.
The Oxford Dictionary of Sports Science and Medicine defines it as “a combination of signs and symptoms of over training which typically causes the sufferer to feel mentally fatigued in absence of physical fatigue and causes deterioration of performance”.
No doubt exercising must be an integral part of your daily routine, but becoming obsessed with it, can have its own dangerous consequences. Just like you need breaks at work, your body needs rest, in order to maintain good health.
Exercising places a positive stress on your body, and the body trains itself to adapt to it by making the body stronger, thus improving health.
However, for this adaptation to take place, the body needs rest. When the body is over-stressed, repeated stresses are placed before any adaptation can take place, which confuses the body.
For example, consider the case of men lifting heavy weights for the same body part everyday, with an aim to look like Hrithik or Salman quickly, and find that they have hardly gained any muscle over the previous months.
Please remember, that our body muscles need anything from 24-48 hrs of rest.
Moreover, the growth hormones are secreted while we are sleeping, which is why there is need of a good sleep (6-8hrs) daily.
The classic symptoms of overtraining are
Ø Depression, mood swings, difficulty in concentration
Ø Chronic, Persistent Fatigue
Ø Increase in the Resting Heart Rate
Ø No gains in Health Status
Ø Increased/Decreased appetite
Ø Lowered bodily immunity i.e. increased susceptibility to infections
Ø Increased risk of overuse joint injuries
Ø Muscle pains & Joint pains
Factors like depression and fatigue also lead to over-eating, in many cases which may actually lead to increase in weight, thus causing further depression in people trying to lose weight by exercising heavily, everyday.
The only way to get out of this is to decrease the frequency of exercising or take a complete break and rest for a few weeks or change the activity to a less intense one.
This might mean hitting the gym every alternate day instead of everyday, altering the workout schedule, trying out other modes, just as an example.
Apart from the general population, sportspersons and athletes who over-train are more prone to overuse injuries like
Ø Tennis elbow (Lateral epicondylitis),
Ø Swimmer’s shoulder (Rotator cuff tendinitis and impingement),
Ø Runner’s knee, jumper’s knee (Patellar tendinitis),
Ø Shin splints.
In fact, the main problem for a coach is to know just how much to ask of an athlete without pushing him or her into a state of failing adaptation or overtraining.
Don’t just decide your workout schedule for yourself. Get a professional opinion, or better still, get it designed from an expert.
Moral of the Story is that : Too much of anything is bad..
Use common sense while applying the “No PAIN No GAIN” formula. A slight discomfort is the word!!
Listen to your body. Enjoy Training!!!!!!
The old adage “ Its never too late to start” was probably written, to answer this very question.
We are forever in the quest to improve/maintain a good health status, since it is fundamental to everything else in life. So, why should it be an exception in the later years of life, where infact it is most needed.
And it has been established beyond doubt that EXERCISE is the best & safest bet, when it comes to good health. Infact the right kind of Exercise, in the right amount, is the best anti-dote to whatever problems aging brings along with it.
- Improves strength, stamina, Flexibility, Co-ordination, Posture
- Helps deal with stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness and unhealthy addictions
- Rev up your metabolism, particularly by strength training
- Sarcopenia-- which is age related loss of muscle-mass (atrophy), leading to loss of strength
- can be countered with Resistance training (weight / strength training).
- Helps prevent Osteoporosis, Cardiac complications, Diabetes, Obesity, etc.
- Excellent anti-aging potion for the skin
- Improves Sexual performance
- Focuses on all aspects of “ Wellness”- Physical, Mental, Emotional, Social, spiritual !
Complications generally arise due to faulty lifestyle habits cumulated over the years—like obesity, diabetes, Cardiac problems, etc. Though problems like arthritis, especially Osteo-Arthritis, (which is an age-related wear & tear problem of the joints), Asthma, may have other causes.
But no matter what the case, Exercise science has so rapidly advanced, that there exists some exercise, which can help improve any condition positively. Just as an example, a person with knee-problems, but still interested in losing weight, may find walking difficult, but can alternately use cycling, Aqua-exercises, Chair-exercises .
The right kind of exercise will take into consideration
Health History, Present health status & level of conditioning
Medical history — Medications & Complications.
Contra-indicated & Risk factors
Regular walking(outdoor/treadmill), cycling, dance-aerobics, step-climbing,
Recreational sports, like tennis, etc.
A set of exercises focusing on all major body parts
Light-weights & more repetitions is the norm
Active / Passive stretching, Yoga asana are the way to go!
Try out different exercises, combinations, or the latest trends like Salsa dancing, Power Yoga, etc.
Any time of the day is fine, as long regularity is maintained.
A few precautions-- and you are ready to go!
Obtain a “Physician’s Release” document
Obtain information about exercise precautions & restrictions, Training-Intensity Limit (esp. in case of post-stroke individuals on heart rate lowering medications )
Do-not over-exert. Watch for signs of fatigue.
Maintain “pain free Range of Motion” of the movement / exercise.
Maintain healthy Nutrition & Hydration
Guard against climate changes by proper clothing, hydration levels.
Its rightly said that “ Exercise not only adds more life to your years, and more years to your life”. So gear up, get your shoes on, and get out to enjoy the best years of your life in the best way possible. The bus is waiting!!!
Shilpa Shetty, Asihwarya Rai and all the hot damsels of Bollywood devoutly follow it or atleast preach about it !!!!
The last couple of years have put the spotlight on Yoga in a huge way. Its “in” to do Yoga these days, or atleast to think and talk about doing it!!!!
Yoga, as originally intended, is a perfect way to bring about a union of mind and body on a very deep level.
Yoga as a physical exercise works to tone and strengthen the muscles as well as the mind.
However, one of the basic principles of Fitness – the Principle of Specificity, says that the type of exercise must be specific to the desired goal. Very simply put, if your goal is to cycle for 5 kms, you have to train by cycling itself. Even if you have the stamina to run for 10 kms, it need not help you achieve your goal to cycle for 5kms.
Moral of the story is that, although there is an endless list of benefits of Yoga, the basic requirement for weight loss is a physical activity that raises your heart rate, and gives your cardiovascular system a challenge. Another requirement is that the activity should prolong for atleast 15-20 min, with the heart rate constantly maintained at a calculated level.
The basic nature of Yoga asanas does not fulfill these criteria, with the exception of a few asanas as some would argue. Of course, with all the latest types of Yoga that are flourishing, this drawback can be overcome. But the bottom line remains!
Yoga, as a physical activity is an excellent way to maintain health, because it heals the body at a deeper level. But for those whose needs go beyond that, a cardiovascular (walking, cycling, aerobics etc.) or muscle training activity is a much better way to go about it. It is just more “Specific”.
And well, as they say “Variety is the spice of life”, a better choice would be to combine yoga and the other forms of physical activities, instead of opting just for either one of them.
It seems like a good enough excuse to not workout, but then that is what it is – an excuse with no thought put into it!!
Weight loss is a simple equation of input versus output. Very simply put, when you suddenly stop doing any activity that you were previously engaging in, the output goes down, while the input continues at the same or increased level.
It has been observed, generally, that when a person begins an exercise program, he tends to intake more calories, due to the inherent nature of physical activity, psychology etc.
Also, when a physical activity program is a part of the daily routine, the body revs up its metabolism and burns calories more efficiently. A few days after the activity is stopped, the metabolism becomes sluggish and the usual calorie intake is prone to be stored as fat.
Infact, here is where weight training helps out. Muscle mass, being an active mass needs calories for its sustenance. But then again, weight training works on the “use it or lose it” principle, so it has to be a continuous effort !!!!!
So what is the MORAL OF THE STORY?
Firstly, health is a commitment for life, and 2-3 months is not life!!!
You have to engage in some sort of a physical activity on a regular basis.
The activity type depends on whether you are in the working phase or the maintenance phase.
Like for example, a person on weight loss program, who was exercising for 1 hour / 6 days a week while in the working phase (weight loss), can maintain that weight by even exercising 1 hour / 3 days a week….
Now if I hear this question again…………………………………………………
And by weights I mean those apart from the fancy pink and purple dumbbells!!
The fact is that women do not possess the necessary amount of testosterone, which is the main hormone required for building muscle mass, and they never will, at least naturally.
Hence it is IMPOSSIBLE for women to build muscle mass or look masculine, unless they use artificial drugs!
Infact, there are so many men who struggle to gain weight despite men having high amounts of testosterone, naturally.
This is a proven fact! So all you ladies please leave all the worries behind and grab some weights, whatever your age may be!
Remember, muscle takes up less space than fat and is more metabolically active than fat.
Women, naturally have lesser muscle mass as compared to men, which further decreases as age catches up.
Over the last decade of research, weight training has been widely recommended for women and especially those over the age of fifty, although under supervision.
· You Will Be Physically Stronger.
· You will have more strength to carry out your daily activities, leading to lesser injuries.
· Helps to get back in shape, especially posture-wise after pregnancy.
· Adding weight training helps burn body fat, long-term.
· Sport specific training can be used to enhance your performance at competitive or recreational sports.
· Increases your neuro-muscular coordination and balance.
· Will reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis along with the help of other factors.
· helps to reduce the risk of heart diseases, diabetes, obesity, and other health complications in the long run
· You will reduce the risk of lower back problems, which are generally posture-related!
· It helps to boost self-esteem and combat depression.
Remember, don’t just believe – QUESTION and get informed !!!!! and get FIT !!
First of all, please note that it is not the same as weight-lifting, body-building or power-lifting!!!!!
It only makes use of weights and has various benefits like -
Strengthen bones, especially important for women
Make you stronger and increase muscular endurance
Increase your Posture and hence your confidence and self-esteem
Improve coordination and balance
Weight training can reverse the natural decline in your metabolism which begins around age 30
Weight training makes you less prone to lower-back injuries.
It has positive effects in controlling diabetes, cholesterol level, osteoporosis, etc.
You have stronger core muscles (lower back and deep abdominal muscles) which increase your endurance level
Weight training is the best form of exercise for women !!!
And it doesn't take as long as you might think.
It raises your metabolism
Muscles are an active tissue, and hence need energy for sustenance, which means you burn calories even while sitting!!!!!
Increasing your lean body mass actually makes your body a fat-furnace !!
Use it or Lose it!!
Lean Muscle mass decreases naturally with age (age-related atrophy) and is replaced by fat.
Muscle mass is directly related to your strength to carry out daily activities more efficiently.
Weight training can help you tone your muscles, improve your appearance and fight age-related muscle loss.
This is a competitive industry, and delivery of excellent service is a pre-requisite for its survival and success .A satisfied customer is more likely to continue buying the services, engage in positive word-of-mouth publicity, and increase the volume of purchases.
Which raises questions, which you as customers need to verify……..
a) Does your trainer avoid your exercise related queries?Or does he suffer “Verbal Diarrhea”, and start a completely insensible argument?
b) Have you ever felt that your trainer is not updated with the latest trends in the Health &
Fitness industry? Or that he is dishing out clearly wrong information?
c) Have you been asked about your aim for starting your exercise routine, your medical
background, your daily diet & activity routine?
In a world where we give such a great importance on using certified products and services (be it the ISO, CE, FDA etc. certifications), why do we compromise when it comes to the trainers at our gyms, who are infact dealing with the most delicate product ever created – the Human Body?
Most of the gyms (big or small) have their own certification course, which ofcourse is valid only within their gym or its branches, stretching about 3 months, max.
Now, even doctors take about 6-18 months just to learn the basic human anatomy and physiology. So, can you imagine how much a person would learn in 3-5 weeks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Shocking, isn’t it?
This is where the importance of a fitness trainer being certified by a well established, accountable, and widely recognized organization/university, comes into picture. The certifications need to be widely accepted, and provide means for continuous upgradation.
For example, there are over 400 certifications in the industry, with NCCA (National Commission for Certifying Agencies) in the US, as one of the premier bodies, which provides quality accreditation.
A certified trainer is well versed with the human anatomy and physiology specifics, thus enabling him to devise & modify exercises, workouts, to suit individual needs and limitations as well as provide the necessary guidance to achieve your personal best.
Let us not forget that we exercise to become fit and not to end up with injuries!
Also, he/she is well-informed in the areas of CPR, Nutrition, Health-screening, Testing protocols, Exercise-prescription, & General training knowledge regarding special populations (like diabetics, post-stroke patients, arthritis patients, etc.)
In addition, he/she is also well versed with concepts of Energy cycles, Fat-burning zones, Aerobic conditioning zones, Angle of attack, Range of motion, Grand-Daddy principles of weight training, Variable resistance training, Flexibility training, etc. plus well aware of the latest trends like Pilate’s, Core Board conditioning, Therabands, Stability balls, Medicine balls, Tae-Bo, Kickboxing, Power Yoga, and numerous others.
This versatile knowledge is highly useful, especially when it comes to personal training, and group fitness training, as it helps to add creativity, variety, enjoyment, and to the otherwise mundane workout schedule.
Hence to get the most of the precious 45 minutes that you can spare for your health, don’t you think a certified trainer would be the best?
So trainers and enthusiasts, go ahead--- --- GET YOURSELF CERTIFIED OR ATLEAST DEMAND A CERTIFIED TRAINER!!
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Fat (adipose) tissue is all over the body, and is stored generally as - visceral (surrounding organs), or subcutaneous (beneath the skin), which forms 80% of total body fat.
Contrary to the popular opinion, body fat is highly essential as an insulator, a shock absorber, a fuel reserve. The locations where fat is “pre-dominantly” stored are predetermined by your genes and your gender.
Women - generally around the buttocks and thighs / pear-shaped / Gynoid
Men - generally around the abdomen / apple-shaped / Android
The body loses fat as a whole. However, you sometimes lose fat in some areas more quickly than in others-simply due to a genetic selective pattern.
Although fat is lost or gained throughout the entire body, generally the last areas to become lean tend to be those where an individual tends to gain fat first ( First In Last Out architecture !!!)
If spot reduction were indeed possible, then shouldn’t a tennis player’s dominant arm have lesser fat than the other arm?? But is this normally found? The answer is no.
The various spot reduction gimmicks that flood the market, are just those –gimmicks. These quick fixes are equally quick to lose effectiveness, due to the use of unnatural methods of stimulus to the body.
Exercise, on the other hand, results in more subcutaneous fat loss. Diet alone results in more visceral fat loss and less surface fat loss.
Moreover, muscle and fat have different minds of their own !!! The popular “ab crunches” are a strengthening exercise – meaning they tone the abdominal muscles. They do not cause fat loss around the mid-region !!!
So the solution ? Make caloric expenditure sufficiently high, and it will cause fat from the entire body to be reduced, including a particular target area.
No shortcuts to success, someone had said!!
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Considering our increasingly sedentary lifestyles – especially at and to-and-fro from work, it does not take a rocket scientist to predict the range of health problems that will arise.
The problems arise since the discs of the spinal column are under more pressure when sitting than while standing or lying down, and specific muscles are under constant tension.
Let us consider the 2 main situations –
While Driving to and from Work –
In a moving vehicle, the body is subject to forces which include accelerations, decelerations, lateral swaying (from side to side), and multi-planar vibrations. Also since the feet are tied up manipulating the brake pedal and accelerator, they fail to support and stabilize the spine and the body, which increases the chance of back problems.
Keep the knees and hips at right angles, shoulders relaxed, and steering wheel at a comfortable distance from the body which does not involve flexing the arm too much.
While sitting at Work --
Sitting for prolonged periods tire and stress the back muscles.
Take frequent breaks from sitting every 1 hour or so.
Adjustable Chairs With Good Back Support Prevent Agonizing Back Pain.
Such chairs spread your weight over a large surface area in order to minimize the strain on any one part, which means a chair that leans backward as you're resting.
If you don't have access to a chair with a good back support, place a small pillow in the small of the back to correct the curve.
When sitting in a chair, the feet should be supported on the floor.
Neck pain is common while sitting.
Make sure your computer monitor isn't too high of low, it is at the level of eyes.
Avoid keeping your computer keyboard too high or too far away, else the arms have to be kept raised or extended, resulting in tense shoulder and upper back muscles and back pain.
Leaning your head over for prolonged periods of time is brutal on your neck muscles.
Keep the arm hanging at the sides while not using the computer .
Learn a few stretches for these muscle groups and de-stress !!!!!!!
Friday, February 8, 2008
Being healthy is merely being free of diseases, aches and pains. However, being FIT means having an ideal balance of the “Tripod of Fitness” – the 3 S – Strength, Stamina, Suppleness (Flexibility).
Now the new school of thought says, that, any fitness program should focus on a “Holistic” approach to a healthier life.
What that means is, to lead a healthier, happier, effective, and more productive life, we have to be not only physically fit, but also have to pay attention to wellness.
Wellness includes seven dimensions: Physical, Social, Environmental, Emotional, Intellectual, Occupational, and Spiritual.
None of these dimensions are mutually exclusive, and are completely interdependent.
For example, take the case of “Emotional Eaters”, who are people, who either overeat or starve themselves, under stress and pressure of performance, thus leading to health problems and complications !
Wellness is a way of life ; It requires lifestyle and behavioral modification.
Physical fitness can be achieved through exercising, but catering to the other 6 dimensions, is a challenge.
It's a mistake to think that you can modify just one factor and enjoy wellness. Wellness requires a constant and deliberate effort to change unhealthy, unproductive behaviors.
Social and family support play a very important role in achieving a state of wellness.
This is where the role of health and recreational clubs gains importance. Sharing your time with like-minded people gives an emotional boost and provides the right kind of motivation, however not without its own downside!
So, lets raise the bar –and aim at Wellness, through Fitness !!
Sunday, February 3, 2008
So, can you get fit only at these attractive health clubs? The answer is Yes and No.
Walking- Excellent for health “maintenance”, almost free of cost.
An aerobic activity, i.e. it helps burn off fat & improve efficiency of the cardio-respiratory system, which forms the basis of any activity.
A daily walk for atleast 30 – 60 min, done continuously, or accumulated over the day (5-10 min activities done 3-4 times over the day), helps to achieve noticeable benefits as well watch your weight.
The human body possesses an amazing capacity to adapt to any stress/stimulus in 6-8 weeks, and hence for continuous improvement, the stress has to be altered periodically .In this regard, walking gives very little scope for variation & progression in walking. Moreover, it is very difficult to control speed.
Pollution – Presence of pollutants like CO, Ozone etc. have profound long-term effects on the cardio-respiratory efficiency.
Even then it is no doubt one of the best forms of exercise & still remains the highly recommended activity for beginners, or special populations (Heart problems, diabetes, hypertension, etc.)
A progression to walking-- Jogging is an extremely high-impact activity, especially done on concrete roads.
Weekend recreational activities like tennis, golf, cricket also contributes to maintaining good-health.
However, such forms of exercise may not be “Specific” to achieve targets like weight loss, control Diabetes, rehab after bypass etc.
Now, focusing on the numerous Health & Wellness Clubs, they definitely offer features like emergency care, expert advice, personal training, etc. but the 2 most important areas where their role cannot be ignored are--
Special Populations—Members with heart problems, Hypertension, Diabetes, lower-back problems, need specially designed & supervised programs.
Aging – Aging has a profound negative impact on muscular strength & endurance, which can only be countered by resistance training, done preferably, under supervision at a health club.
Exercising in a group, with like-minded people promotes better social well being.
THE CHOICE IS YOURS! GO AHEAD AND GET FIT !!!
Saturday, January 26, 2008
While having a thinner body frame is definitely a plus point healthwise, but being Fit demands a lot more!!!
Fitness is a mixture of basically 5 components which in simple terms are –
Muscular strength – strength of different skeletal muscles in the body
Muscular endurance – ability of a muscle to prolong an activity repeatedly
Cardiovascular endurance – ability of the heart to respond to a stress applied over a period of time
Flexibility -- elasticity of different muscles
Body composition – distribution of fat mass and muscle mass in the body
Thin people are usually seen to possess lesser muscle mass, which implies lesser muscle strength. This, however cannot be assumed as a general rule! Muscle strength is an essential component in all daily activities, like lifting your office suitcase, daily grocery, even putting your bike on main stand!!
I have also personally seen many thin people getting breathless after climbing 2 floors!!!! The cardiovascular endurance component is the key here.
While all these components can be developed optimally through a proper exercise regime, individual differences exist, which sometimes hamper with the desired results.
Which brings us to the remaining 10% of us, like me, who have had the jaw-dropping experience of knowing and working with not very “thin”, but extremely fit people, who can jog for an hour – NON -STOP !!!
The are many factors at play while considering the above fact. However, the basic point is that any exercise regime should aim at making the person more fit and not more thin……
So what is the Moral of the Story : Being fit is more than being thin or fitting into a size 24 pair of jeans!
Or may be, “Its all in the mind” !!
Which reminds me that according to one of my friends (who wants to live beyond 120 yrs), logically speaking, since all major complications have a common solution – losing weight, “thinness’ can be equated with “immortality”!
While I call that the heights of exaggeration, if this thought is enough to motivate him to hit the gym at 6.00am sharp, well……