Growing up, I have heard this, innumerable times, and probably you have heard it, too: “Do some exercise, it is good for you”. There have been many occasions when this was uttered to me at an ‘inappropriate time’ – when I would just start munching on the fries or took my first bite of the juicy chicken burger, and I would wonder “Really, is exercising good for you?”
Well, that was the thought at that moment! The veracity of the statement was realized only much later when my health was left wanting as I never identified the risks of unhealthy eating habits and the importance of physical exercise.
The importance of physical exercise can be understood from the comparison of human body with a machine, say a car. Park your car in the garage and do not run it for six months. Six months later, when you try to drive your car, either it will not run at all or if it does, there will be a multitude of problems. In any case it will need attention from a mechanic to bring it back to a proper, trouble-free, functional shape.
Human body behaves similarly. If you don’t provide it with adequate physical exercise, its muscles and bones become rusty and tardy. Prolonged, periods of inactivity lead to further complications which require attention from a medical practitioner.
It is, therefore, necessary that we follow a routine of exercising come what may. Seek professional guidance before drawing up a schedule of exercises that your body needs as well as get a dietary plan to compliment your exercising schedule to get your body in the best possible shape.
Advantages of Exercising
Experts say that even a routine of 60 minutes of exercise gives tremendous benefits to the human body. Here are some benefits of following a daily exercise regimen:
- Not just the body, even the mind benefits: Endorphins the chemicals that are responsible for our general feeling of happiness are produced when you exercise. The mind also feels relaxed after exercising and helps in relief from mild depression and low self esteem;
- Weight training strengthens your muscles, bones and ligaments and builds endurance. The muscles get toned and you look good, too;
- Aerobic exercise involves continuous and rhythmic physical motion and It improves your stamina by training your body to become more efficient;
- As mentioned above, our bodies are like machines and need continuous functioning of all body parts so that they do not become ‘rusty’ (disease prone). Regular exercising helps prevent various diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, heart problems, obesity, etc.
- Working out in a gymnasium or at a public park or on a sea beach, enrolling for a dance or an aerobics class or playing tennis or soccer or other physical sports provides opportunity to communicate with other like-minded people thereby increasing your social circle.
Types of Exercises
Many of us, while we do exercises, restrict to just a few workouts, the ones that we like doing and are comfortable doing. Yes, that is true, often, we do not push ourselves to practice those work outs which require extra effort and are painful (in the initial stages when the body is not used to such exercises) even though the benefits derived from such exercises may be more.
Physical therapists recommend that we should include the following 4 types of exercises in our regimen:
- Endurance/Aerobic Exercises: To give your heart and lungs a good work out and to increase endurance, Aerobics are a great exercise. In fact, Aerobics are important for many body functions. These exercises help relax blood vessels, lower blood pressure and blood sugar, reduce inflammation and burn excess fat from your body. Aerobic exercises also raise HDL cholestrol while lowering the bad LDL cholesterol. Therapists suggest Aerobic exercises to prevent risk of some serious diseases like Heart Diseases, Type 2 Diabetes, Stroke, Breast and Colon Cancer, etc.
- Stretching Exercises: As we age, our muscles and tendons lose the flexibility that they had when we were young. Muscles tend to become shorter and start functioning improperly which results in cramps, pain, muscle tear, sprains and joint pains. Regular stretching exercises from young age itself prevents the muscles from shrinking and keeps them flexible.
- Strength Training: With growing age, our body suffers muscle mass which can be built back by strength training. Apart from making you stronger, strength training stimulates bone growth, controls body weight, cuts down blood sugar and improves balance and posture. It also helps in keeping back and joints pain away.
- Balance Exercises: These exercises make you feel steady on your feet, which prevents falling down because of losing your balance. Particularly in the old age when our vision, inner-ear and the leg muscles become weak and result in losing our sense of balance.
Precautions Before Exercising
As said, ‘Excess of anything is harmful’ and this holds true even for the ‘good for your health’ exercise. Going overboard with exercising can become an addiction and is likely to cause more harm than good. It is, therefore, necessary to start a physical exercise program under the guidance of a professional trainer after taking an advice from your personal doctor.
While walking and light exercises can be undertaken without threat of any serious repercussions to physical self, it is a must to consult your doctor before you start a strenuous exercise program. Particularly, if you have had a medical history of some chronic illness or have gone through a surgery or prolonged medical treatment, it is strongly advised that any vigorous exercise regimen must be preceded by a no objection from a medical practitioner.
This apart, follow these tips for a safe and fruitful experience:
- Set specific goals that you wish to meet at the completion of your exercise program. Do you wish to lose weight by 30 pounds? Are you looking to strengthen your muscles? Etc.
- Never start full steam right from the word go. You need to get your body to warm up well before you start;
- If you are starting for the first time or after a long break, start slowly and gradually increase the level of exercise. Do not push yourself to the painful levels from day 1.
- Do not over-exercise in enthusiasm. Excessive exercising can cause injuries like stress fractures, inflamed tendons and ligaments, sore joints and muscles. Should you feel faint, fatigued, pained, stop exercising as your body has had enough for that time.
- Rigorous exercising causes the body to lose fluids. Keep yourself hydrated. Drink plenty of water or drinks with essential electrolytes.
- Dress properly for exercising. Choose the right clothing and shoes based upon the climatic conditions of the workout place. Do not exercise vigorously in hot and humid conditions. In cooler climes, wear layers of clothing that you can peel off gradually when the body warms up.
On your path to attaining complete Physical Wellness, exercising is a great way to feel good as it boosts your health – physical as well as mental. Start with 100 – 150 minutes a week of moderate exercises or 50 – 75 minutes of vigorous exercises. Gradually increase by 10-15 minutes each week till your body gets used to the regimen.
Gradually introduce Strength Training, first without weights or very light weights or using the weight machines. If you have set yourself specific goals like weight loss, muscle development or removing belly fat, make sure you get a proper advice from a trainer on which specific exercises you need to include in your program, the duration and the frequency of such exercises.
Along with exercising, it is absolutely necessary to consume the right kind and amount of food. Share goals and your details of exercise regimen with your dietitian and seek the correct advice. It is imperative to compliment your physical activity with a healthy diet program to get the desired results.
Have a healthy life!!