Fitness During Midlife

Hot flashes. Raging moods. They’re symptoms typically associated with midlife hormonal bedlam. But hormones control so much more, from our energy and metabolism to how we build muscle. Hormonal changes are an inevitable part of ageing but these can be influenced by the choices we make. Namely, how we move and what we eat.

“As we get older, exercise is key,” says Dr Richard Quinton, consultant and senior lecturer in endocrinology at Newcastle University, UK. “Hormones are important to physical fitness but while they change with age, exercise can have similar benefits to what hormones do and help make up for some of those age-related changes.”


Tackle insulin resistance:

“As people get older, they get more resistant to insulin,” says Dr Quintan. This means your cells are less able to use this hormone effectively, leading to high blood sugar, weight gain around the middle, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. “Exercise, however, can be transformative for insulin resistance,” he explains. A study published in the Journal of Obesity and Weight Loss concluded that not only did exercise help insulin resistance, it also influenced the way our muscles use glucose.

Can diet help? “Research suggests that eating more in the morning, followed by smaller meals as the day progresses, may be more favourable in terms of insulin sensitivity,” says Rick Miller, a clinical and sports dietitian. “This is especially important as we get older and insulin sensitivity goes down.”

Plan for perimenopause:

If you’re perimenopausal — the decade prior to the menopause —your oestrogen levels fluctuate dramatically, says Miller, which is going to affect your weight.

“As oestrogen levels fall, muscle cells become less sensitive to blood glucose changes, leading to insulin resistance,” says Miller. “This leads to an increase in appetite, especially for sweet and carbohydrate-rich foods, making the cycle worse.” So, what to do about it?

“Choose smaller portions of starchy and wholegrain carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, rice,wheat and quinoa, healthy fats such as avocados, olives, olive oil or nuts or seeds and a source of protein such as meat, fish, eggs, lentils, beans, pulses or tofu at each meal.”

Master the menopause:

Once your menopause hits, oestrogen levels fall off a cliff edge. The two most important effects of this are weakening bone mineral density and the loss of the heart-protective effects of oestrogen, explains Greg Whyte, a sports scientist. “Exercise can impact both, particularly walking or jogging, with a couple of sessions of circuit training that gets you sweaty with some weights.”

Indeed, resistance training twice a week has been shown to help strengthen bones, as a 2017 study on 101 women found.

Katherine Brooke-Wavell, senior lecturer in human biology at Loughborough University, UK, said the study provided evidence that brief circuit training exercises involving weights or jumping can improve spine and hip bone density in postmenopausal women, so may have a role in prevention of osteoporotic fracture. “Racket sports such as tennis are great for bones and the heart, too,” Whyte explains.

Handling the MANopause:

“We talk a lot about the menopause but men go through a similar process, something we term the somatopause,” says Whyte. “Falling testosterone is important, but another key hormone responsible is the reduction in human growth hormone middle-aged men are experiencing.”

Human growth hormone (HGH) is important for muscle growth and fat metabolism. Levels of HGH begin to decline in our mid-20s, but according to Whyte, declining levels in middle-aged men has a profound effect. “This combination in men over 40 of reduced testosterone and falling HGH affects things like strength and mobility, along with central adiposity. In fact, that belly traditionally attributed to beer is in fact linked with this fall in HGH,” Whyte asserts.

Men and muscle:

“As men age they should lift more [weights],” Whyte explains. “They also need to increase their aerobic activity to help deal with the increase in fat mass and also to protect their hearts,” he adds. Ideally, a couple of sessions of heavy lifting, a couple of sessions of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and a couple of sessions of longer duration aerobic activity at lower intensities for 45 minutes or more, like running, cycling or swimming.

Food for thought:

“As HGH goes down, muscle tissue starts to develop an ‘anabolic resistance’, which means it becomes more resistant to muscle building,” says Rick Miller. “This means that whatever amount of protein we used to eat when we were younger has less impact on maintaining muscle than before.” So eat more protein in midlife, aiming for 1g per 1kg of body weight.

The stress factor:

Middle age is also the time most of us face a peak in stress hormones, especially cortisol. “Increased cortisol levels over a long period can contribute to weight gain,” says Dr Quintan. Cortisol starts to get destructive when its levels are chronically raised, due to a grinding, underlying stressor that doesn’t seem to have an endpoint. Think a bad marriage or thankless job.

Exercise raises cortisol levels in the short-term, bringing them back to normal after recovery. But that’s healthy, because it provides your body with a stressor to which it’s forced to adapt by becoming stronger and fitter.

“Much of that occurs during sleep and rest,” Whyte says. “That’s why recovery is essential for over-40s exercisers. The older we get the more seriously we should ensure that we’re sleeping enough, rehydrating properly, eating enough protein, and taking 48 hours off between bouts of heavy strength training to help muscles recover. You can do active recovery during these times, with low-intensity walks or swims, but you have to let muscles rest and recharge.”

At length it can be said to maintain a good health physically & mentally in every stage of life doing Yoga with Meditation for atleast half an hour every day, eating diatery food and drinking good amount of fresh water is the best solution.

Resources: The Telegraph (Kolkata India)



Botanical Name: Coccinia grandis
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cucurbitales
Genus: Coccinia
Species: C. grandis

Bryonia acerifolia D.Dietr.
Bryonia alceifolia Willd.
Bryonia barbata Buch.-Ham. ex Cogn.

Common Names: Kundru, Ivy gourd, also known as scarlet gourd, tindora, manoli, tindla, gentleman’s toes, tendli, thendli and kowai fruit. In bengali it is called talakochu

Habitat: Kundru’s native range extends from Africa to Asia, including India, the Philippines, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, eastern Papua New Guinea, and the Northern Territories, Australia. Its documented introduced range includes the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Guam, Saipan, Hawaii, the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu.


This plant is a perennial climber with single tendrils and glabrous leaves. The leaves have 5 lobes and are 6.5–8.5 cm long and 7–8 cm wide. Female and male flowers emerge at the axils on the petiole, and have 3 stamens. Kundru is a tropical vine. It grows primarily in tropical climates and is commonly found in the southern Indian state of Kerala, where it forms a part of the local cuisine. Coccinia grandis is cooked as a vegetable.In Southeast Asia, it is grown for its edible young shoots and edible fruits.


Edible Uses: Green kundru is used as a very good vegetable. In India, it is eaten as a curry, by deep-frying it along with spices, stuffing it with masala and sauteing it, or boiling it first in a pressure cooker and then frying it. It is also used in sambar, a vegetable and lentil-based soup. The immature fruit is also used raw, preserving its crisp texture, to make a quick fresh pickle.

A variety of recipes from all over the world list the fruit, as the main ingredient. They are best when cooked, and are often compared to bitter melon. The fruit is commonly eaten in Indian cuisine. People of Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries also consume the fruit and leaves. In Thai cuisine, it is one of the ingredients of the very popular clear soup dish kaeng jued tum lueng and some curries kaeng khae curry and kaeng lieng curry

Medicinal Uses:
In traditional medicine, fruits have been used to treat leprosy, fever, asthma, bronchitis, and jaundice. The fruit possesses mast cell-stabilizing, antianaphylactic, and antihistaminic potential. In Bangladesh, the roots are used to treat osteoarthritis and joint pain. A paste made of leaves is applied to the skin to treat scabies.

Ivy gourd extracts and other forms of the plant can be purchased online and in health food stores. These products are claimed to help regulate blood sugar levels. Some research supports that compounds in the plant inhibit glucose-6-phosphatase. Glucose-6-phosphatase is one of the key liver enzymes involved in regulating sugar metabolism. Therefore, ivy gourd is sometimes recommended for diabetic patients. Although these claims have not been supported, a fair amount of research on the medicinal properties of this plant are focusing on its use as an antioxidant, antihypoglycemic agent, immune system modulator, etc. Some countries in Asia, such as Thailand, prepare traditional tonic-like drinks for medicinal purposes.

Nuetricional value : Kundru is rich in beta-carotene.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.



Botanical Name: Sechium edule
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Species:S. edule

Synonyms: Chayota edulis (Jacq.) Jacq. Cucumis acutangulus Descourt. Sechium americanum Poir. Sechium chayota

Common Names: Chayote, Mirliton, Cho Ko, Cho-Cho, Vegetable Pear Mirliton squash or simple squash in India. The common English name is from the Spanish word chayote, a derivative of the Nahuatl word chayohtli.

(Chayote was one of the several foods introduced to the Old World during the Columbian Exchange. Also during this period, the plant spread from Mexico to other parts of the Americas, ultimately causing it to be integrated into the cuisine of many other Latin American nations.)

Habitat: Chayote grows in most of t6he places in the world.

In the most common variety, the fruit is roughly pear-shaped, somewhat flattened and with coarse wrinkles, ranging from 10 to 20 cm in length. It looks like a green pear, and it has a thin, green skin fused with the green to white flesh, and a single, large, flattened pit. Some varieties have spiny fruits. The flesh has a fairly bland taste, and a texture is described as a cross between a potato and a cucumber.

The chayote vine can be grown on the ground, but as a climbing plant, it will grow onto anything, and can easily rise as high as 12 meters when support is provided. It has heart-shaped leaves, 10–25 cm wide and tendrils on the stem. The plant bears male flowers in clusters and solitary female flowers.[3] The plant’s fruit is light green and elongated with deep ridges lengthwise.

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Edible Uses: The chayote fruit is mostly used cooked. When cooked, chayote is usually handled like summer squash; it is generally lightly cooked to retain the crispy consistency. Though rare and often regarded as especially unpalatable and tough in texture, raw chayote may be added to salads or salsas, most often marinated with lemon or lime juice. Whether raw or cooked, chayote is a good source of vitamin C.

Although most people are familiar only with the fruit as being edible, the root, stem, seeds and leaves are edible as well. The tubers of the plant are eaten like potatoes and other root vegetables, while the shoots and leaves are often consumed in salads and stir fries, especially in Asia.


Medicinal Uses: The leaves and fruit have diuretic, cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory properties, and a tea made from the leaves has been used in the treatment of arteriosclerosis and hypertension, and to dissolve kidney stones.

CLICK & SEE : Different Benefits of eating Chayote :

Other Uses: The tuberous part of the root is starchy and eaten like a yam (can be fried). It can be used as pig or cattle fodder.

Due to its purported cell-regenerative properties, it is believed as a contemporary legend that this fruit caused the mummification of people from the Colombian town of San Bernardo who extensively consumed it. The very well preserved skin and flesh can be seen in the mummies today.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.



Incorporating yoga into one’s lifestyle:

Yoga should be like brushing your teeth. It should be a thing that you do on a daily basis. It doesn’t need to be for long or be complicated. It can just be a 30-minute practice that includes a bit of pranayama, breathing, a bit of meditation and asanas. ...CLICK & SEE

Focusing on the breath:

Without breathing, there’s no yoga! The body is tangible and the mind is subtle. And the only connection from the body to the mind is through your breath. If you close your eyes and sit for only five minutes a day and just focus on your breath, you’re starting to take your awareness inside. This starts to develop the practice of meditation.

Even in the practice of asanas, if you’re not breathing, there’s no point. The act of breathing is our life force, our energy. The extension of the breath is the extension of our energy. The more you slow down your breath, extend the breath, the longer and healthier you will live. If you see yourself getting angry or scared, you’ll see that your breath becomes shallow and fast.

When you first start practicing yoga, you get stressed out. But when you get a control of your breath, you can control that. The longer you breathe, the calmer you breathe and the more you breathe, the healthier your mind is.


Primary benefits:-

It works on two levels. First of all, yoga helps directly in detoxifying the body. It works with the internal organs like the liver and the spleen; that keeps the metabolism and immunity system of the body higher.

It gives you better sleep. A lot of people suffer from insomnia and most of them face difficulty in waking and sleeping. When you start practising yoga, your mind becomes calmer and you get more quality sleep. When you sleep, a lot of things happen. You grow, you’re healthier, your immunity system reboots.

It’s not only that yoga helps you lose weight, it also helps you in controlling it by making you a mindful eater. You’re mindful of what goes into your body.

Eating healthy:

When you are practising yoga, you cannot have really heavy things. It’s impossible to have a hamburger and then do yoga. You don’t want things that are not good for your body or for the environment. So you start to eat cleaner; often people choose a vegetarian diet. A lot of people today are also choosing a vegan diet.

Staying fit:

Yoga decreases a lot of body ache by increasing flexibility and making the muscles and bones stronger.

On a mental level, yoga works directly with the parasympathetic nervous system which is basically what’s responsible for making us relaxed. When you are constantly active, the parasympathetic nervous system is not activated. Even when you’re doing the active kind of yoga, whether it is ashtanga, vinyasa or hatha, there are times when you rest, whether before or during or after, in Shavasana, and the parasympathetic nervous system gets activated and it makes us relaxed.

When you control your breath, you’re more in control of your mind and you start to increase your capacity to focus. You are living in awareness. So, really it’s a practice that changes people.

Starting out:-

Yoga is not a pill that you take and get magic. You need to be consistent. Don’t waste time. There is nothing more important than your mental and physical health and happiness. Yoga is ultimately a journey of self-exploration.

When you are very angry, anxious and unfulfilled person. Yoga gaves you a lot of peace of mind. It will make you very healthy and happy person. You will become much more aware of your body, mind and spirit. It will make you happier.

Age Well Through Exercise

Exercise and nutrition are the keys to moving and functioning properly as you age

Muscle loss, commonly known as sarcopenia, is the loss of muscle mass with age. It is estimated that both men and women lose muscle mass at a rate of one to two per cent per year and by the age of 80 we tend to lose around 40 per cent of our muscle mass. This rapid loss of muscle mass can have negative consequences, such as the ability to move and function and there is a higher risk of falling down too.

Lack of physical activity, decrease in anabolic hormones, such as testosterone, and growth hormone, increase in age-related inflammation and decrease in protein intake can all lead to sarcopenia. There are two clinical ways to diagnose sarcopenia — measuring grip strength using a dynamometer (<16 kg for women and <26 kg for men) and muscle mass using DEXA.

Studies have reported that progressive resistance training and nutrition have been effective in slowing the loss of muscle mass. Here are a few recommendations to slow the rate of muscle loss in one’s middle age.

Perform progressive resistance training: Include movements that involve big muscle groups such as hip/knee/ankle/shoulder extensors and flexors. Keep the load low and gradually build volume, performing two to three sets of eight to 10 repetitions with control (technique is key, therefore supervision of a qualified coach will be important).


Add progressive balance and coordination exercises: Mindful movements that are commonly seen in yoga, tai chi and pilates can be incorporated. But movements should be progressed gradually based on individual competency and the structure of the joints. Remember, everyone’s virabhadrasana (warrior pose) may not look the same due to the structure of the hip and pelvic joint and/or competency level.

Diet: Add enough protein, essential fats such as omega-3 in your diet along with important micronutrients such as calcium and magnesium. Make sure overall energy intake is adequate.

How to age well through exercise.
Several factors influence ageing. Physiological conditions (that is, not suffering from major illnesses and the ability to function without depending on others), social and psychological well-being can all play a role in overall quality of life. Over the years, many clinical trials have confirmed that exercise can be very effective in positively influencing the overall quality of life.

However, exercise is one aspect of the overall, bigger movement framework. So instead of having a set mindset regarding exercising, we should rather seek opportunities to move consistently well. Here are a few important movement strategies…

Explore different movements: Instead of relying on moving a set way to get your exercise dosage, try and include various movements. For example, some people get so obsessed with long-distance running and walking that they lose the opportunity to explore other movements. Learning new movement skills can help with cognitive brain development and also keep things less monotonous. In addition, there can be less wear and tear on the joints, provided movements are performed well.

Quality over quantity: Movements should be gradually progressed, emphasising on quality. Remember, it is better to be consistent rather than going hard for a month and then not doing anything the following month. Further, most injuries happen when we add too much stress too early, as a result the body breaks down. This can negatively impact the overall quality of life.

Measurements: Measurements such as calories burnt and steps count keep a track of our daily activities but one should not be obsessed with them. Many people tend to go through guilt trips when they do not exercise for a set duration of time. They do not realise that even if they break the total duration into shorter sessions throughout the day they can still get the same benefit.

For example, let us look at the popular 10,000 steps phenomena. The idea behind 10,000 steps is about making people move rather than about the exact steps. Therefore, whether someone does it throughout the day, in one session, or play a sport or practices yoga, they can reap similar benefits as long as the intensity is right. The 10,000 steps are more about heart and lungs and less about the tiny steps we tend to get obsessed with.

Source:   The Telegraph (Kolkata, India )