Exercise Yoga

Yoga and Strength Training in One Move

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Step-1. 1. Standing with your feet together, hold a 5- to 8-pound dumbbell in each hand, arms dropped straight in front of you. Inhale and shift your body weight over your right leg. On an exhale, lean forward and raise your left leg behind you. Keep your abdominals pulled in to support your spine.

Step-2. Once you feel stable balancing on your right leg, contract your back muscles and bend your elbows, pointing them backward until your dumbbells are close to your hips. Pause for 2 seconds, then lower your arms. Continue the arm movement 8 to 12 times while you maintain your balance. Bring your legs together and stand up, then repeat on the other leg.

Sources: Los Angeles Times

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Six Pack Abs

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Gone are the days when a paunch, a plump wife and a couple of well-fed children were signs of success. The “now “ generation follows the fashion trends of its idols (the Khan brigade of Aamir, Shah Rukh, Salmaan and a few others in Bollywood) and everyone wants a six pack, or at least a four pack ab. Such ambition is not the prerogative of men alone. Women too want a midriff that can be bared and need not be concealed under voluminous folds of chiffon.
The concept is simple. Just strengthen the abdominal muscles and lose body fat. What could be easier?

The catch lies in putting the equation to action. If your job and personal monetary value rest on your appearance (as with models and movie stars), many hours a day can be dedicated to achieving and maintaining this goal. Personal trainers, physiotherapists, physicians and dieticians can be employed.

For most people, an hour a day is about all they can spare, and the household income will not support the services of additional helpers.

With patience, dedication and will power, a six pack is an achievable objective and the effort is well worth it. Your morale, and physical and mental health will improve. An added bonus — despite your age, heads will turn.

The first step is often the most difficult — to get off the couch, put down the TV remote and start exercising.

When you eventually do get a six pack, the idea is that it should be seen and appreciated.
This will not happen if it is hidden under a layer of body fat. Priority one is, therefore, to get rid of that flab. To do this, cardiovascular exercises like running, swimming, cycling, skipping or stair climbing for at least 20 to 30 minutes have to be combined with muscle training. Ideally the cardiovascular exercise should be performed after weight training. Having a light tea or coffee before starting also kick starts the metabolism.

Weight training increases muscle mass, calorie consumption at rest and reduces flab. Around 20 repetitive movements with a light weight (1-5kg) for each group of muscles is usually sufficient. This will not result in huge bulging muscle masses as in body builders.

Abdominal exercises have to be repeated at least every other day to maintain muscle tone. Exercises involve lying on the floor with the knees bent and then trying to touch the knee with the nose, bringing the knee up to touch the nose or moving both together simultaneously to meet in the middle. Start with 20 repetitions and eventually work up to 500 of each exercise set, increasing the number done only once a week. The most efficient abdominal exercise is cycling in the air.

While performing any manoeuvres, protect the neck. Do not attempt to place the fingers behind the head and pull up using arm strength. Place the arm across the chest or else place just the tips of the fingers behind the ears. Also, make the movements smooth and fluid. Jerky jack knife movements can injure the lower back.

Exercise does not really have to be a “no pain, no gain” process.
Activities like flexing, stretching, clenching and unclenching the stomach while sitting behind a desk (especially if your job is sedentary) will effortlessly go a long way to achieving a flat stomach.

The abdominal machines advertised on television are really not worth the money. Similar results can be achieved with persistence. Targeting just a specific area of your body and doing exercises only to reduce fat from that particular region does not work. Dieting, exercising and working out have to be combined to get the ideal shape. Space out calories in 3-4 meals instead of missing a meal altogether. Try eating a fruit or drinking a large glass of water before a meal. Both will curb the appetite and offer health benefits as well.

Snacking on high calorie foods is unhealthy and silently adds to the number of calories consumed. Even when the meals actually eaten are small, there is no weight loss and the paunch remains. A written record of the food eaten and exercise done will help to keep a reality check on intake and output.

Many supplements (pills, powders, liquids) are advertised as the magic cure for increasing muscle mass and/or weight loss. They are expensive and the claims misleading. Thyroid tablets (to increase the metabolism) and anabolic steroids (for muscle) or diuretics (to lose water) are dangerous. There are specific appetite suppressant drugs that can be taken under strict medical supervision. Adjuvants will work only if combined with diet and exercise.

Everyone has an opinion on diet, exercise and body sculpting. Listen to these opinions, settle on a routine that works for you, and, remember, working out is like having a job. You cannot “take off” too many days without losing out.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Health Quaries

Some Health Quaries & Answers


Q: I have skinny arms and an ugly pot belly. I wish to increase the size of my arms and reduce my stomach.


A: First you need to attain your ideal body weight. Divide your weight by your height in metre squared and see if it is 25. If it is more you need to lose weight. This can be done by a combination of diet and exercise. You also need about 40 minutes of aerobic exercise like running, jogging and walking everyday. This has to be combined with anaerobic weight training and abdominal crunches. Also, if you have a desk job try to maintain proper posture while sitting. Pull in your stomach and hold it in several times a day. It is not possible to reduce your pot belly alone.

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My father had fever and throat pain. He was diagnosed with diphtheria and admitted him in the ICU. Later we learnt that adults don’t get diphtheria.
A: Diphtheria is rare today because of the routine immunisation of all children with the “triple” vaccine DPT which protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough). Immunity has to be reinforced with booster doses until the age of 16 years. Immunity tends to fall over time. This makes older individuals susceptible to infection. Diphtheria can produce heart (myocarditis) and nerve (paralysis) complications. Maybe that is why your father was admitted into the ICU.

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Q: My sister had bleeding during pregnancy. The doctor diagnosed placenta previa (I don’t know what that is) and did a caesarean section. The baby is premature and very sick. What is this? Will it recur in her next pregnancy?


A: Placenta previa occurs when the placenta fixes itself near the outlet of the uterus. It occurs once in 200 pregnancies. The bleeding is painless, and can be mild or profuse enough to endanger the life of the mother and the baby. It is diagnosed by an ultrasound scan. Treatment can be bed rest in mild cases or immediate caesarean in severe cases. I think in your sister’s case the doctors had no choice. Premature babies have a lot of complications, most of which can be tackled by a competent neonatologist.

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Fortunately placenta previa is not a recurrent condition.


Q: My father had a stroke and his left arm and leg are paralysed. I have been advised to take him for physiotherapy, but how is that going to help?

A: Paralysed muscles become stiff and inflexible. This makes changing the position of the limb difficult. The bones and joints may get pulled out of alignment. Walking and balance become difficult. If he remains immobile bed sores may develop.

It is possible to retrain muscles and brain circuits. Muscle strength, power and flexibility will all improve with consistent physiotherapy. It is worth making the effort and taking your father for treatment.

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Q: I have dark itchy patches under my breasts, in my arm pits and the thigh creases. They are very ugly.
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A: These patches are called intertrigo. They occur when there is a reaction between sebum, sweat, detergents and moisture. There may be a secondary bacterial or fungal infection.

You need to bathe twice a day and dry the area well with a soft towel. Check with a dermatologist about the type of infection (if any) which may have occurred. Applying the specific antibacterial or antifungal cream or dusting powder will help.


Q: My grandfather is bedridden and has developed a bed sore. What should we do?
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A: Bed sores can develop in anyone who is bedridden and unable to change his or her position. Prolonged sitting or lying in one position compromises blood supply to the skin and soft tissue of the area. Bedsores can develop quickly, progress rapidly and be difficult to treat.

Small sores may heal on their own if cleaned appropriately. Deep sores need surgical cleaning, dressings and, sometimes, surgical closure with skin grafts.

It is important to try and prevent sores from developing and spreading by changing the person’s position often.

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Q: I used to drink a glass of milk in the morning and in the evening. I had stomach cramps, bloating and terrible gas. Recently, after a naturopath told me to avoid milk and milk products there was a vast improvement. I need my tea in the morning though. How can I live without milk? I am 35 years old.
A: The naturopath has accurately deduced that you have lactose intolerance. His advice to avoid milk is right and you have improved. At your age a tablet containing 1gm of calcium and three eggs a week will probably replace the nutrition you used to get from milk. You can drink black or green tea without milk.

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Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

News on Health & Science

Exercise to Prevent Osteoporosis

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In a bid to help osteoporosis patients to improve their bone and muscle strength, Australian experts have suggested brisk walking, jogging and weight training as the most effective forms of exercise.


Experts on World Osteoporosis Day said regular exercise can reduce osteoporosis related fracture risk by up to 50 per cent.

It is estimated that one in two women and one in three men over the age of 60 in Australia will suffer a fracture related to osteoporosis – the loss of bone tissue – research from the University of Melbourne reveal.

“Osteoporosis places a huge burden, both physically and financially, on the individual and the general community, and research shows that the rate of osteoporotic fractures is significantly increasing, particularly with our ageing population,” Head of Osteoporosis Australia Judy Stenmark said in a statement.

The group has released a series of exercise and fracture prevention guides, endorsed by Federal Minister for Ageing Justine Elliott.

The guides suggest how to reduce the incidence of osteoporosis. :-

Exercises should target the main muscle groups, such as the arm muscles (biceps and triceps), upper torso muscles, lower abdomen muscles, muscles around the hip, thigh muscles (quadriceps and hamstrings) and calf muscles,” guide co-author Maria Fiatarone Singh said in a statement.

“The most effective activities progress in difficulty and always challenge different muscle groups. The best activities for great bone health are those done in rapid, short bursts of high intensity such as brisk walking, jogging and weight training,” Maria added.

Sources: The Times Of India

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