Thursday, February 21, 2008

Spot Reduction - Possible or........?

Newspapers crying out ads such as --Trim your buttocks in a fortnight! Slim waistline in 3 weeks !!!!!!! are a common feature. So what do you think – Possible or IMPOSSIBLE?

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

Occupational Health

How many days pass without anyone of us complaining about lower back pain or pain in the upper back-neck-shoulder region!!
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


Have been hearing the word “Fitness” since ages…. Now what exactly is wellness?

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

Going to a Health Club-- A necessity for Fitness?

How many of us have managed to keep our New Year resolution, about losing/gaining those extra pounds, having Sharukh’s 6-packs, or even manage to climb 3 floors, without praying to God, at each step, for enough strength, for the next step?
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.