Summer, Fitness & Heart Health

As the summer is here, very few will dare to get under the scorching sun and exercise. People literally sweat doing nothing and exercising outdoors will make you sweat more. Dehydration, heat stroke and even death can occur if exposed to too much heat.

In this post, we would like to share answers to some common questions we get asked during our routine work as a cardiac rehab team:

Is it advisable to exercise during summer? – Yes, you can exercise during summer, but it is advisable to do the exercises either early in the morning or just before or during sunrise (Source of Vitamin D) (or) post sunset in the evening.

What are the common precautions to be taken while exercising in hot weather? –Wear appropriate clothing and footwear; take sips of water or electrolyte mixed beverage for hydration; ensure the temperature is regulated (if indoors) or not more than 36 deg Cel (if outdoors); do adequate warm up and cool down exercises.

Can we exercise indoors during the summer? – Yes, you can exercise indoors. There are many exercises that can be done inside your house without any fancy equipment. Use of body weight and space will be helpful.

How to avoid dehydration or stay hydrated during summer? –Increase your intake of fluids. Instead of drinking plain water, add a pinch of salt and sugar to improve water retention. Use of electrolyte mixed beverages that are available in the market may be helpful for individuals who indulge in athletic activities and sports. Others can stick to water mixed with a pinch of salt and sugar, fruit juice (with pulp and without added sugar) or tender coconut water.

What types of exercises are advisable? –Combination of aerobic exercise and strength training can be done at home. Aerobic exercises should be done at least for 30 minutes on 5 days a week and strength training for 2 days a week. Free exercises using one’s own body weight or simple equipment like dumbbells weight cuffs and resistance bands are the main options for building muscle strength. The major muscle groups for strength training are shoulders, biceps, triceps, forearm, quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles.

I have been diagnosed with a heart ailment and am taking medicines. Is it safe to exercise in very hot conditions? –As you are under treatment for a heart problem, it is best to take the advice of your Cardiologist or your Cardiac Rehab Team. In general, people with heart conditions should avoid exercising in extremes of weather as it can add to the workload of the heart. However, if you take the above precautions, your exercise regime will be fruitful.

From the above questions and answers, it is evident that exercise can be done indoors and also it is simple, effective and also cost-effective (sometimes zero cost too).

Some of the indoor exercises are:

  • Push ups or modified push ups
  • Forward lunges – with or without dumbbells
  • Half squats
  • Normal planks
  • Steppers – with or without dumbbells
  • Abdomen sit ups
  • Quick sprints
  • Stair climbing – brisk walk or jog 2 to 3 floors in a single repetition

These can be done while traveling too. Adequate warm-up should be done prior to exercise and slow and relaxed stretching should be done as a cool down to avoid muscle cramps or soreness. Not to forget that overtraining can also affect the body.

Thus it is important to exercise with adequate precautions during the hot summers. If you exercise the right way with proper guidance and techniques, it is easier to achieve the desired goal. And remember exercise can be done anywhere and all it needs is dedication, determination and commitment.

Exercise & Fittness for Women

Women’s day is around the corner and what can be more helpful than reliable and specific information on women’s fitness. Physical exercise, as you may know, is a planned repetition of bodily movements, done on a regular basis. Now let us look at some exercise principles for women.

The FITT principle is often used to describe an exercise session:

F – Frequency of exercise

I – Intensity of exercise

T – Time or duration of exercise

T – Type of exercise

Frequency refers to the number of times per day or week an exercise is done (eg. 2 times/day, 5 times/week). Intensity refers to the amount of effort that is required to perform the particular activity, which is expressed as a percentage of maximal oxygen consumption or maximal heart rate or in easy terms how breathless we become. Time/duration refers to the total time allotted for the exercise regime. Type of exercise refers to the different components of exercise namely – aerobic, resistance or strength, flexibility, balance etc.

Exercise guidelines for women do not differ much from the recommendations for the general population. Thus, the current global exercise recommendations are as follows:

As per the American Heart Association guidelines, every individual should exercise at least 5 days a week that is a minimum of 150 mins of moderate intensity aerobic exercise per week, or 75 mins of vigorous aerobic exercise per week. In addition to this, they should do strength training exercises twice a week.

 

For women new to exercising 

  • Ideal start to exercise regime would be basic aerobic exercise like brisk walking, cycling, hiking or use of equipment’s such as stationery cycle or cross trainer for 30-45  mins on 3-5 days/week.
  • Adequate warm up of 10-15 mins prior to exercise and cool down of 5-10 mins post exercise is a must.
  • Strength training can be started after 4 weeks of regular aerobic exercise.

For women already exercising (following an exercise regime for more than 3-6 months)

  • Increase the exercise intensity and also try other training such as high intensity interval training, recreational sport activities and regular participation in sports events like marathon, hiking, cycling tour etc.
  • Adequate combination of strength and aerobic training can enhance your overall fitness.

 

 

 

    

Here are some exercise recommendations for some special populations of women:

Diabetes

  • Individuals on anti-diabetic treatment can do aerobic exercise of moderate intensity for 30-60 mins for 5-7 days/week and always keep some healthy snack like a fruit or water with electrolytes for use in case of low sugar levels (hypoglycemia).
  • Resistance training helps you to shed more calories and when combined with aerobic exercise is the best way to lose weight and normalize blood sugar.

Hypertension

  • For hypertensive individuals, aerobic exercise such as swimming, cycling and brisk walking is ideal. Resistance training can be added for better results at a later stage.
  • If your resting BP is above 200/100 mm-Hg do not exercise; consult your physician.
  • Avoid breath holding while exercising.
  • If you have nausea, giddiness or palpitations, stop the exercise session and consult your doctor; a low salt diet high fibre diet can help control BP.

Obesity & Overweight

  • Here the focus should be on exercise and proper diet. Calorie expenditure should be more than calorie intake (refer to calorie blog post).
  • The exercise session should be at-least 60 mins, 5-7 days a week with aerobic and strength training combined.
  • Increase the hours of physical activity per day to avoid weight regain.
  • Keep a positive health goal such as improved fitness or a better balanced diet rather than a negative goal like losing weight.

Dyslipidemia (Abnormal cholesterol level)

  • A combination of aerobic exercise, resistance training and flexibility training along with relaxation techniques like meditation will help improve your cholesterol.
  • A high fiber diet rich in fruits, veggies and whole grains is equally important.
  • Long term use of lipid lowering medications can cause muscle weakness and soreness. Kindly consult physician if so

Osteoporosis (Weak bones)

  • Here the main aim is work on weight bearing activities that enhance bone density and also help in strengthening your bones and muscles.
  • Exercising 5 days/week, 30-60 min per session on weight bearing aerobic activities such as walking, cycling, cross trainer and strength training helps to improve bone density and muscle mass
  • While working on strength training, avoid lifting heavy weights and handle the equipment’s with precautions

Post-menopausal women are at a higher risk of obesity, osteoporosis, heart attack, stroke and some cancers. It is important that they indulge in regular aerobic and strengthening exercises to keep these diseases at bay.

Breast cancer is a common malignancy affecting women of all ages these days. If you have a family history of breast cancer, periodic screening tests like mammogram can help to identify the disease early. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, balanced diet and a relaxed mindset is the key to preventing many cancers including breast and uterine cancers.

Hope the exercise and lifestyle recommendations are helpful for you and your loved ones in keeping good health!

10 Commandments for a fitter you!

Nutritious food is no substitute for physical activity but watching what you eat plays a vital role in developing a strong and healthy body. Combine a balanced healthy diet with careful attention to good nutrition while exercising and you’ll make sure that the food you eat is keeping you in great shape. Monitoring your portion size, prioritizing fresh foods such as fruits, whole grains, and fish over processed foods and red meat, adding superfoods like broccoli, sweet potatoes and nuts to your diet, supplementing your diet with high-fibre foods like cereals and beans…these are just a few ways to start eating wholesome energy-boosting food!

  1. Toned up muscles – If you would like to tone up your body and control your weight better without rigorous workouts or daily visits to the gym, a well-balanced diet is what you need on a daily basis. For toning your muscles as well as to improve your overall fitness, you should follow a proper diet and some sort of home-based workout or simple exercises.
  2. Fruits & vegetables – My advice as a dietician is that at every meal you add plenty of vegetables and fruits like apple, guava, lemon, grapes etc. In a balanced combination diet, you can take as many salads and fruits as you like in a day. For example, make it a habit to include at least 1serving of fruits and veggies in your mid-morning and mid-evening eating regimen. Start enjoying green leafy vegetables such as any locally available greens in raw or cooked form, if possible every day. You can also include dry fruits and nuts like almonds, walnuts, peanuts, dates and raisins to improve your healthy fat intake.
  3. Deep & regular sleep – Aim for 7-8 hours of undisturbed sleep each night. It is also important to follow a routine when it comes to sleeping and waking times, even in the midst of busy work and study deadlines. Practising stress management techniques such as meditation and deep breathing regularly is proven to help sleep-related problems.
  4. Water intake – The human body is made up of 50-60% of water, and you need to keep replenishing it. Drinking enough water is very important for health and fitness. Ideally clean and safe drinking water and not any other beverage but if you are exercising a lot and sweating more than normal, you will need to increase your water intake and maybe drink some drinks with extra minerals in it like salted buttermilk or tender coconut water to replenish what is lost in sweat.
  5. Carbohydrates, Protein & Fat – Your body needs 60-70% of carbohydrate from rice/chapathi /cereals etc. Always choose whole grain products instead of refined ones. Proteins are essential for your body growth and development so you can choose whole grams, lentils, soybeans, legumes on a daily basis and animal proteins like fish, egg and chicken once in every 2-3 days. Always choose healthy cooking oils such as Sunflower/Gingelly/Olive/Canola because they contain healthy fats that are essential for many body functions.
  6. Avoid highly processed foods – Reduce your intake of fried foods, fast foods and processed foods like bakery items and pre-packed foods as they are rich in unhealthy saturated fats and trans-fats and can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. The excessive amount of salt and artificial sugars in these foods may also lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and kidney failure.
  7. Small but frequent meals – Frequency of meals is an important aspect of nutrition, with profound effects on human health and lifespan. Planned small frequent meals once every 2-3 hours, that is 5to 6 small healthy meals instead of 3 big meals in a day is the smart way to stay free of disease.
  8. No to Supplements – My advice for all of you there trying to manage weight problems and get fit is to stay away from slimming medicines or any protein supplements as they all come with harmful side effects. Some serious medical complications are also known to occur in certain individuals.
  9. Shift system at work – We are often encountering people working night shifts for long periods of time or changing shifts on a weekly basis suffering from indigestion, sleep disorders, premature greying of hair, ulcers, acidity, constipation etc. Personalised exercise, diet and stress management sessions pave the way for better health for these individuals.
  10. Exercises – Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. It has many uses, including improving your overall health and fitness, and reducing your risk of many chronic diseases. There are many different types of exercises; it is important that you pick the right types for you and stick to them on a regular basis. If time or your work pattern is a major constraint, we can help you incorporate regular exercises while at your workstation or during a busy workday.

With all the information you need to start becoming a fitter person, is it still something you’re scared of? I sincerely hope not! Just make a good start, believe in yourself and follow these simple steps in your daily routine. There is no doubt you’ll be on your way to a fit, healthy and confident person very soon!