Don’t shudder at the thought of a boring treadmill session; give it up. There are many types of exercises you can take up instead. Swimming, walking, playing a sport, kick boxing, running with your dog…do anything that involves physical activity and that is enjoyable. Let your age, weight and choice help you choose the activity that you find comfortable doing. Whether your aim is to improve general health, shape up, de-stress or lose a few excess kilos, it is essential that you find a way of exercising that suits your goals and personality.
One size doesn’t fit all
Homemaker Mrs Gupta joined the gym after being coaxed by her friends on the merits of weight training. After a few days of exercising on the machines, she quit. “I do yoga everyday; it makes me feel relaxed and calm. When I joined the gym, I found it crowded and noisy, I also didn’t enjoy lifting weights. I just could not connect with the programme —the gym wasn’t for me,” she says.
Rohit Mehta wanted to get fit. After trying walking, he realised that he needed something more challenging and enjoyable. “I needed to take up a sport rather than walking. Tennis was a good option. The joy of learning a sport and seeing myself get good at it was a great thrill,” he says.
“I finish my work at around 6.30 pm. I enrolled in a gym next to my office. After work, I exercise for 45 minutes with my trainer and then head home. I don’t spend time commuting to the gym—and that is a great bonus,” says businessman Pradeep Gustasp.
This means that different exercises suit different kind of people. Like the saying goes: different strokes for different folks.
Myth 1: The best time to exercise is early in the morning.
Fact: There is no ‘one’ best time. The best time is the time that appeals to you and fits into your schedule. Some people would love to jumpstart their day with a morning workout, while others swear that exercising at the end of the day energises them.
Myth 2: Walking is the best form of exercise.
Fact: There is no ‘one’ best type of exercise. The one that is best for you is the one that suits your needs, personality and lifestyle so that you stay consistent and interested.
Myth 3: You must follow the ‘diet plan’ of those who have lost weight to succeed in your weight loss goals.
Fact: There are no ‘super diets’ or ‘easy answers’ that work for all. Begin to remedy the deficiencies with modest changes that work for your needs and lifestyle habits.
Over time, develop positive and permanent eating habits.
What do you like?
Different personalities connect to different routines. Take a look at some fitness options and figure out which one is for you.
Group activity: Group workouts provide loads of positive, goal oriented-energy. Regularly meeting people with similar fitness goals motivates you and keeps you on track. Whether it is a kick boxing class or step class or group sport, you catch the enthusiasm of people around you. This keeps your energy levels high.
Personal trainer: S/he can design a suitable workout programme based on your fitness level, lifestyle habits and goals. A personal trainer can be your greatest source of motivation, and the one on a constant lookout to fulfil your fitness needs.
Exercising with a friend: Being with a buddy keeps you motivated and eliminates the boredom of working out alone. It also provides opportunity to catch up on all the latest news.
Solitary pursuits: Some people get distracted in the presence of others. If you are one of them, you could walk to get some fresh air, swim, join a gym or do a mind-body programme to relax and de-stress the mind.
Now that you’ve figured out how you’d like to do the workout and probably also know what you’d like to do, here are benefits some exercise forms offer.
Cardiovascular exercises condition the heart and lungs. The heart is the most active muscle in the body and regular walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or skipping increases its efficiency.
Strength training improves bone density, builds strength, enhances the metabolism, improves posture and tones the body. You can follow a strength training regime with various types of equipment in a health club, gym or even at home.
Flexibility exercises keep the body supple, flexible and free from muscular stress. They increase blood flow and nutrient supply to joints, relax muscles, mobilise the joints and improve posture. Yoga, stretching exercises, and Pilates come under this group.
Recreational activities such as golf and gardening, even twice a week, can improve both fitness and the state of mind.
Deep breathing exercises such as pranayam and meditation help relax the mind and cope with the stresses of life.
Lastly, get your doctor’s ok before starting an exercise or diet programme.
5 rules to follow
- Accept realities. Come to terms with your body, and its genetic frame. Then do your best to get to your optimal size and shape.
- Refrain from judging others by appearance. The less you judge others by the way they look, the less you will be judged by others.
- Write down what you eat. Be honest about your eating habits. Only then can you decide on the constructive changes you need to make.
- When you eat dessert, share it. Pleasure is best when it is shared.
- Stop comparing yourself to anybody. Comparison is a game nobody wins. Do your best and forget the rest.
This was first published in the April 2009 issue of Complete Wellbeing.