Sweet and simple fitness
A quick and gentle reminder about how easy being healthy is
By Aditi Raman Shridhar
Being fit is a thrilling experience. Ask anyone who feels good in his or her body, calm in the mind and full of love in their heart; and that is a happy, healthy individual.
When we talk about fitness we mainly refer to physical fitness. But this would be a skewed concept of fitness. A wholesome health comprises all physical, emotional and mental fitness. How are you going to feel great everyday if you weren’t clear in your head?
To begin with physical fitness; we understand that it is the ability of the body to meet the daily demands imposed by our environment and daily life. The state of body which develops a positive attitude and dynamism in our work is fitness. This fitness can be judged by mental alertness, muscular strength, energy, stamina, efficiently working heart and lungs. In athletes ergo meter is used to assess the body’s response to sustained physical stimulus. Normally, we judge our stress response by our ability to complete high energy tasks and not be so fatigued as to leave it midway. In athletes ergo meter is used to assess the body’s response to sustained physical stimulus.
Fitness can be attained by taking regular exercises. Exercise should be gradually increased to avoid injury. A warm up before the actual exercise schedule is desirable to prepare the body for greater activity. Walking, swimming, cycling, dancing, yoga are all very good exercises of which walking is the most effective with the added advantage of being included in daily routine without much ado.
A well balanced diet is as important for fitness as any exercise regime. Smoking, alcohol and drugs are detrimental to health. They are best avoided or taken in moderation if one becomes a slave to habit. Nutritious diet includes a balanced proportion of carbohydrate, fat and proteins. Calorie intake should be proportionate to weight and daily energy expenditure. At times diet may not be sufficient in all essential nutrients. Hence diet should be supplemented by vitamins, iron, and calcium and protica protein to maintain a high energy level and feel fit.
Mental and Emotional Fitness are the other two important facets of good health. After all, a healthy body without a healthy mind is an uncomfortable place to be in. Meditation, reflecting on one’s choices and desires and taking appropriate action, maintaining good relationships with everyone you meet, and especially having pleasing thoughts about yourself are reflectors of good emotional and mental health. Being cool and unaffected by external situations and people allow an individual to enjoy every moment of their life.
How fit are you?
The million dollar question which plagues even the least conscious amongst us is to accurately assess how fit we really are. Fitness as a concept has been marketed in the modern society as if it was the panacea for all problems. We have modern fitness gurus who do not hesitate to give discourses on the relevance of fitness and how it could be attained. This concept can be very misleading as is evident from the way thinness is promoted and a full, rounded body is old fashioned especially among girls. This causes severe mental tension and promotes symptoms of anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Fitness is not being just thin, rather a holistic concept in which both physical and mental well being are incorporated.
The glamour around models and celebrities who we see on television and social media often affects the self esteem of young girls and boys and makes them believe that they are not good enough. This is a very dangerous phenomenon if parents do not check it at the right time. Giving the youngsters an accurate picture of what celebrities eat, the makeup, dressing and professional photography that goes behind in making them look stunning is essential. Telling young girls about how much food celebrities forego, how much they train their bodies and the amount of makeup they use to look glamorous can help them from imitating the bodies of celebrities, and rather focus on bettering on the beauty and good health that they have been bestowed with.
A lot of people also get caught in the clutches of BMI, which are sometimes faulty, and the knowledge they seek in Google. YouTube videos on exercises can often be misleading if one is not aware of the lifestyle that the trainers live. Exercise, mild or intense, depends on what your goal is.
If you are trying to lose weight, going slow with cardio exercises and outdoor sports help a lot. If you want to tone and maintain your health, then Yoga and mild gym exercises are also good. Walking still remains the best exercise as it puts all the body parts in motion, helps to burn calories and is helpful in controlling blood sugar and blood cholesterol. It requires no equipment and can be a part of the daily routine. It is important to remember to stop exercising as soon as breathing becomes labored.
In ancient times, physical education consisted of gymnastics to improve strength, endurance, flexibility and agility. The Greeks considered the body to be a temple housing the mind and soul and gymnastics kept the temple healthy and functional.
From the early ages, Indians practiced yoga which is a way to keep both mind and body in tune and healthy. For mental fitness, they performed Pranayaam and meditation.
However, the most popular form of exercise still remains Gymnastics. It is an age old form of exercise which was practiced in Egypt but as other sports took precedence it gradually faded into oblivion. The first gymnastics were the circus like acrobatics seen in ancient Greece. Later on in Greece three distinct forms of gymnastic exercises were designed; 1) for maintenance of good physical condition, (2) for military training and (3) as part of conditioning regime for athletes. They believed that unity of body and mind could only be achieved through participation in physical activities. The creator of modern gymnastics is the German educator Freidrich Ludwig Jahn who devised exercises based on stationary apparatus to develop physical strength and stamina. It gradually caught up in other countries with slight variations. To date, it is dominated by gymnasts from USSR and Eastern Europe.
Gymnastics trains the body completely and also disciplines the mind. But gymnastics can only be performed with intense training and is not suitable for a layman to practice without an instructor.
There is always a new fad in the diet industry. Every six months, magazines and television commercials show a new diet plan. Most people follow these diets without knowing their repercussions. The sudden detour from the normal regular diet and food habits often cause more problem than advantages. The simplest way to keep a check on diet is to just check if you are getting all the vitamins, minerals, carbs and proteins from your diet. Check if your food is replete with all essential nutrients like carbohydrate, fat, protein and vitamins. For optimal energy certain food supplements like protein, Vitamin D, calcium, iron and omega 3 are recommended. Proper diet fulfils many functions apart from providing energy for daily activities. It helps in growth, development, protects our body from diseases and helps us to repair the worn out tissues. Diet should be a blend of different kinds of food stuffs to get an optimum amount of all essential ingredients. Cereals, fruits, meat and milk are all vital for the body. Sometimes the nutritive value of food is compromised during storage. Hence food supplements like multivitamins, minerals and Protica protein can be very helpful to maintain a steady supply of energy.
The Trap of Fads
The concept of fitness is being marketed across the globe and people are making a beeline for all places / products which promise to make them fit and smart. This is more evident among young girls and boys who want to acquire the physical attributes of their sports or film icons. It is good to be conscious and desire a healthy body but one must understand the limitations of each individual before fixing a target. Unachievable targets can lead to frustration and psychological problems.
There are some factors which affect physical fitness. Our genes dictate the height we achieve and it would be wrong to desire a tall frame by exercising vigorously. Even obesity runs in families. Ideally, such people should accept the ground reality and strive to attain the best possible results to lead a healthy and fruitful life. Proper growth and development in the early stages of life form the basis of fitness in later life. This can be insured by maintaining a healthy environment at home and in the neighborhood which is conducive to the all round development of an individual.
Regular exercise, proper rest and sleep are very important for a person’s health. A stress free life can work wonders in the mental and physical growth of a person. All these factors are very important but they depend on the dietary intake of an individual directly or indirectly.
Aditi Raman Shridhar is an Indian writer and a health and wellness expert.