Health Topics

Healthy Living

October 2010
There Are No Shortcuts!
Vidya Gajapati Raj Singh
Healthy living is the only path to a life of wonderful quality, and there are ways to achieve this. Exercise, sensible eating, a stress free life and creating happiness for yourself within the parameters of your own existence, are among the few ways to reach that goal. It is certainly not an unattainable goal, but the one factor to focus on this path is, that there are no shortcuts!

A healthy body comes from sensible eating and translates into a healthy mind. When your mind is healthy, it can achieve a certain balance and then have the ability to deal with every issue that life may throw at you. All ancient Shastras, and every modern medical fact that is a proven one, tells us that we need to be aware of everything that we put into our mouth. Food is the sustaining factor in our lives. Certain foods can create the sustenance that our bodies need, and certain foods on the other hand go towards destroying the balance of our body. There are no short cuts here either.

Remember that everything that you either eat or don’t eat has a direct bearing on your physical well-being. The diet that most of us follow these days, is mostly deficient in vitamins, minerals and other nutritious substances, due to overcooking or preservatives. This creates an overload on the systems of the body, that then become prematurely aged and diseased. What we need to do is, to find the food that is the best for us, that will help us to live longer, healthfully, and in a life of quality.

Let’s look at fitness to complete all that we need to do, which is of utmost importance, towards developing and maintaining a physically strong and fit body. Body strength and fitness translates into an enhanced awareness of our body, and this in turn will improve the quality of our lives in innumerable ways. As you begin to concentrate on fitness, you will begin to notice higher energy levels, a stronger physique, a feeling of well-being, and above all, the awareness that you are giving your body the tools, with which to fight general illnesses and all the baggage that comes with ageing.

Fitness and its Three Aspects

Cardiovascular activity

Any aerobic activity, that can improve and strengthen your heart and lung capacity, can be considered ‘cardio’. Jogging, walking, bicycling, aerobics, and swimming are all excellent options. You could use any of these or even cross train by using a combination.

Remember to train yourself into working a cardio session for at least one hour, as the body kicks into the cardio mode after about 35 to 40 minutes and becomes aerobic. It is only after this that the “calorie burn” actually begins.

Strength Training
Strength training includes, using light weights, rubber bands and free weights to make up a routine, that can help build and develop the muscles of the body, to look lean and well toned, bring strength to the body and keep the body fit enough to deal with all the normal movements that body will be subjected to during any normal day. It will also keep you strong and fit, to pursue not just your fitness goals, but even allow you to play a sport at a level that will enhance the pleasure of the game.

Use machines, free weights and bands, to develop both upper and lower body strength. Strength training will keep your muscles strong and give great body shape and toning. Weight training increases bone density and helps stave of osteoporosis. You could fit in a strength training routine at least 2 to 3 times a week for maximum benefit.

Note: Work with a trainer to get the movements right, as a wrongly done movement could cause injury, and also might not work the muscle that is being targeted.

This is one of the most important aspects of fitness. Flexibility can keep you going for the rest of your life, in every movement that you make. A stretch routine is an absolute must, at the end of any workout, as it relaxes tight muscles and also releases the lactic acid build-up that happens in the muscles, during a training session. Yoga is a very important part of any exercise routine and can be practised at least 3 times a week under a good yoga guru.

My mantra of “eat right and exercise regularly” may sound too simplistic, but without any doubt, is the only path to that life of quality, which is the eternal quest for all mankind – with no shortcuts!

Vidya Gajapati Raj Singh is a sports and fitness enthusiast, and popular columnist based in Chennai.

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