Fitness Q&A: Keep your mind and body interested

Fitness expert, Namita Jain answers readers’ questions on fitness. Get your doubts cleared and see them featured on our FAQ page every Thursday.

This week’s answers:

What is the safe way to exercise for older people?

Getting Started: Fitness Guidelines
When starting out, always begin at a level that is right for your current fitness condition and progress at a suitable rate so as to keep your mind and body interested. An exercise program should always be safe and effective. Keep the following fitness guidelines in mind:

Do low-impact exercises
Low-impact aerobics generally involve a smaller risk of injury than high-impact aerobics because one foot always remains in contact with the floor while exercising. This kind of aerobic training is safe and is recommended if you have health concerns or joint pains. Examples are walking, cycling and swimming.

Start with a warm-up
A warm-up prepares the body for the activity to follow. Muscles perform better and are less prone to injury when they are warm. A warm-up can mean simply walking or marching for 5 to 10 minutes to raise the body’s core temperature.

End with a cool-down
A cool-down lowers the body’s temperature, gradually. This prevents dizziness and extreme fatigue post-workouts. Suddenly stopping without cooling down can result in a rapid drop in blood pressure and light-headedness. The last 5 to 10 minutes of the workout should be cool-down time. This allows the blood to return from the working muscles to the heart and for the body to return to its resting state.

Is vajrasana useful for back pain?

No, vajrasana does not focus on strengthening the back.

Are plyometrics safe for children?

Plyometrics are high-impact exercises, they are more strenuous and challenging than low-impact exercises. Yes, they are safe for children; avoid these exercises if your child is obese or has joint pain or injury.

I am 65 yrs old. I have trouble sleeping if I am very tired. Is there any exercise to ease tension and sleep well?
Doreen John

I suggest this simple exercise you can do before you sleep:

Breathe deep: Shut your eyes, and take 7 slow, calming breaths. Every time you inhale focus on breathing in calmness, and when you exhale – breathe out all mental fatigue.

I’ve been told that situps will help tighten my abs. Is it true?

Abdominal exercises such as crunches will help tone up the abs.

I am 46 yrs old, diabetic with high blood pressure. Is swimming good for me?

Yes, swimming is a wonderful exercise, it is safe and effective.

Dear mam, I have a heavy middle and thighs. Please help

I suggest you walk daily for 1 hour, and watch your diet! (Eat foods that are healthy and low-in fat and sugars).

What can I do to treat my varicose veins? I am 38 yrs old with scoliosis

Here are some tips to prevent or at least minimise varicose veins:

· Elevate your feet and legs whenever possible. Use a stool to rest your legs on when you’re sitting, and keep your feet elevated on a pillow when lying down. Try to spend about ten minutes each day in a position in which your feet are raised above your hips.
· Don’t sit or stand for long periods without taking breaks to move around.
· Avoid snug fitting shoes and high heels.
· Regular exercise (eg. gentle walking, swimming) can help avoid excessive fat build-up; will maintain good circulation and tone the blood vessels.

Namita is a certified clinical exercise specialist and lifestyle and weight management consultant. She is currently attached to Bombay Hospital as their clinical and wellness specialist.

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