Do you find time to watch your favorite movie, listen to music, and watch television? Then you can surely find time for exercise! Make exercise your life’s priority, include it on your ‘have-to-do-list’ and perceive it as fun. Exercise scientists have discovered that for health purposes, mild to moderate levels of physical activity is all that is required.
Variety is the spice of life, and exercise comes in as many varieties as you could want. It is good to change not only the pace but also your exercise regimen to get rid of that monotonous exercise programme. Today an amalgamation of both western and Indian exercise forms is in vogue. For instance, a combination of yoga and pilates forms yogilates. Besides, Bhangra aerobics, step aerobics or Kalaripayattu (martial art from kerala) are becoming popular.
There are gyms where exercises are planned for busy working women. The exercise regimen is 30 minutes of high-intensity workout, which includes change of equipment every 30 seconds, which then increases the heart rate.
With the growing fitness demands, health spas have been mushrooming around the cities. There was a time when a spa was a luxury but today even smaller fitness centres have them. The services included here are Jacuzzi sauna, steam, massages and even snack bars that serve health food. Gyms are equipped with not only hi-tech machines and gadgets but also have basket balls, skipping ropes and even trampolines.
Gyms today have turned into fitness studios with personal trainers counseling you on right kind of exercise; mapping out specific exercise programmes for you, signing you in each day and make sure that you follow all the instructions. Your body type is assessed through a series of psychological and physical tests using a machine that measures your body’s fat-muscle ratio, and your diet chart tool is made up. Home gyms are a fad amongst the elite and celebrities. The affluent ones engage personal trainers to guide them through their exercising. Corporate offices and hotels too have added facilities that include gyms, sporting activities such as table tennis, badminton, etc. and spas with beauty salons.
With so much exercising choice available, it makes fitness fun and motivating. Whether you are working or relaxing, fitness comes first. All exercises can begin with stretching, warm-ups, stamina building, strengthening and endurance exercises and finally a cool down. Exercise needs to be personalized according to age, sex, medical history and physiological condition such as puberty, pregnancy, medical history, body mass index (BMI), availability of time, type of profession, diet habits, personal aim and target, heart rate and blood pressure.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Body Mass Index is an important measure of your body’s fat content based on your height and weight. To calculate your BMI you can use the following formula:
BMI alone may not be enough to know who is at a risk of obesity or cardiovascular disease. It is important to know where you carry your extra kilos. A person who is apple shaped or who has stored fat around midriff may be more prone to develop heart disease or diabetes than those who are pear shaped with diffused fat distribution. Women with a waist circumference greater than 80 cm and men with waist circumference greater than 94 cm are at an increased risk. A waist measurement more than 88 cm for women and 102cm for men can be worrying.
Warm-up and Cooling Down
Before you begin with any exercise programme, spare five to ten minutes to warm-up or get charged up. Any form of exercise—be it aerobics, dancing, a run on the treadmill, a jog in the park walk or yoga—needs a warm-up to loosen the muscles. Deep breathing, neck and eye rolls, forward, backward and side bends, twists and jumps, spot jogging, slow walking on to proper exercise regimen, your body is stiff and brittle. You need to loosen up. A warm-up increases your heart beat and improves circulation. It prepares the body—your lungs, heart, bones and muscles—for the exercises which follow.
Cooling down after exercising is as important as the warm-up. It helps the body to come back to the rest position. In the last minutes of exercising, you must slow down and not stop abruptly, especially if you are doing a cardio workout. A cool down lowers the body’s temperature, prevents dizziness and fatigue. It also helps in removing waste products from the muscles such as lactic acid, which forms during exercise.
Stretching is an important exercise. The general rule is that you stretch whenever you exercise. In fact, even if you do not exercise, you can stretch at least three times a week. It increases flexibility, improves range of motion of your joints and improves circulation. It promotes good posture and helps relieve stress. It can even be done at the beginning of your working day.
Most aerobic exercises and strength training exercises inherently cause your muscles to contract and flex. The sport-specific stretching prepares the muscles for a workout. However, there is no scientific evidence to say that ‘static stretching’ or holding a stretch for a period of time reduces injury. Instead active stretching using movement is good before exercise. Stretch also after you finish because it helps loosen your tight ligaments and muscles.
When you stretch you have to be gentle. Breathe easily as you hold each stretch. Avoid holding your breath. You have to feel the tension while you are stretching and not pain. If you feel pain you are overdoing it. Remember you can injure yourself if the stretch is improper. Do the stretch slowly. Simple stretching exercises include bending forward, touching your toes while you stand or sit, raise your arms, cross your arms, stretch your neck, shrug, and roll and move your shoulders. There can be many more ways to stretch. Do these exercises on a regular basis.
Stretches begin at home:
• Bend forward, touch your toes
• Stretch your arms
• Cross your arms
• Stretch your neck
• Scratch your back
• Shrug, roll and move your shoulders
• Do the twist