Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pregnancy and Exercise

A woman should clearly understand the risks and potential benefits associated with exercising during pregnancy and should make the decision to exercise in conjunction with her physician.

Studies of the cardiovascular responses of pregnant women have shown that women can maintain and even improve their cardiovascular, respiratory and aerobic capacities during pregnancy. A pregnant woman’s heart works at a very high level due to the increased demand of pregnancy. And as pregnancy progresses the heart is less able to adapt to the increased demand. This is why pregnant women should be discouraged from exercising or participating in activities at high levels.

Flexibility in a woman increases during pregnancy. With the release of the hormone relaxin, joints become looser, increasing the risk for injury during exercise.

Exercises increases body temperature which can be harmful for the fetus, especially if the core body temperature exceeds 100° F (38° C). Pregnant woman should be careful when exercising since body temperature adjustment is more difficult for them.

A few exercise guidelines

  • Do not begin a vigorous exercise program shortly before or during pregnancy.
  • Gradually reduce the intensity, duration and frequency of exercise during the second and third trimesters.
  • Try to run or walk on flat, even surfaces.
  • Wear supportive shoes while walking or running during pregnancy.
  • Extend warm up and cool down periods.
  • Avoid performing exercises in supine position especially after first trimester.
  • Body temperature should not exceed 100° F (38° C).
  • Exercise during the cooler part of the day.
  • Eat small snack before exercise to help avoid hypoglycemia.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.
  • Avoid over stretching or going beyond normal range of motion.
  • Any unusual physical changes such as severe fatigue, joint pain or irregular heartbeats should immediately be reported to a physician.

Once again, remember, do not start an exercise program without consulting your physician.

Stay Healthy!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Benefits of aerobic/cardiovascular training

A lot of people do not know that aerobic activities can benefit big time. It’s the case with many gym goers too. Not all individuals know that Cardiovascular/Aerobic training not only helps in losing all that fat from the body but it also has various other benefits. I have listed a few benefits below.

Reduction in blood pressure
Regular cardiovascular/aerobic training helps in controlling blood pressure. Those with BP problems will greatly benefit by engaging in aerobic activity.

Increased HDL cholesterol
High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol is also known as good cholesterol. The higher the level of HDL in an individual the better it is to help reduce Low density Lipoprotein (LDL) which is also known as bad cholesterol. Those including aerobic activities in their exercise routines on regular basis have an increased level of HDL Cholesterol.

Decreased total cholesterol
The desirable level of blood cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dl. Blood cholesterol level of 200-239 mg/dl is borderline high and 240 mg/dl or greater is High Blood cholesterol. Elevated total cholesterol (>200 mg/dl) and/or low HDL cholesterol (<40 mg/dl) is one of the risk factor for Heart Disease. Engaging in aerobic/cardiovascular activities reduces the total blood cholesterol.

Decreased body fat stores
Body fat is body’s primary reserve of stored energy. When a person engages in an aerobic activity like jogging it utilizes the fats that are stored, for the energy required to jog. In this manner the excess body fat stores are decreased resulting in a leaner body.

Decreased resting heat rate
Cardiovascular training not only burns a lot of calories but it also makes your heart stronger and when your heart is stronger, the heart doesn’t have to work hard to pump blood. Individuals who engage in cardiovascular training have a decreased resting heart rate.  

Those are some of the benefits of aerobic/cardiovascular training. As a professional and a concerned personal trainer, I always encourage individuals to perform aerobic training atleast three times a week. Your personal trainer will be able to design an exercise program; duration, intensity, frequency based on your current fitness level.

Stay Healthy!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Is your diet plan hitting boredom? Don’t worry

Like we always treat ourselves whenever we achieve something that we worked for, the same way we have to treat ourselves when we achieve our fitness goals. This approach to your exercise regimen will keep you motivated to exercise.

Most exercisers who begin an exercise program are on a strict diet. They try to follow it every day. But there are days when one feels like eating something that they always enjoyed eating, like pastries, ice creams, and junk food. While some can overcome these tempting thoughts, the rest fall for it. And this section of people feel the guilt and this guilt of letting themselves down and not sticking to the diet plan probably leads them to missing their workout session or gives them thoughts that they cannot go one with the exercise regimen.

Now, let me tell you something, it is not at all bad to eat something that you crave for once in a while. However you have to keep a check on the quantity. Ask yourself this question; what is the benefit of a vigorous workout if I eat a piece of pastry which has around 400 -600 calories in 100g? No benefit.
The best way to tackle this kind of cravings is by rewarding yourself. If you are on a strict diet and are so tired  of it that you are thinking of giving up, just cease that thought because there is a simple and yet most effective solution to this problem.

Once in a while reward yourself with a small treat with the food that you crave for. Rewarding yourself once in 15 days or once in a week is a practical approach, because in this manner you will know that you are going to eat something that you feel like eating and at the same time won’t have any guilt when you eat it and will stay motivated to exercise regularly.

Stay Healthy!

Friday, September 17, 2010


Back injuries are the number one disability for people under the age of 45 in the present time. It is estimated that majority of the population will experience an incident of low back pain some time in their lives. Of these, some will go on to develop chronic low back pain.

This problem cost lakhs of rupees for medical care.

The cause of LBP is often elusive; however four common causes have been recognized:
  • Herniated disc
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Accident
  • Degenerative disc disease

Lower back problems are time and again associated with an imbalance of strength and flexibility of the lower back and abdominal muscle groups. Poor flexibility in the hamstrings and hip flexor muscles also have been linked to lower back pain.

A strong connection exists between LBP and excess body weight, smoking and decreased physical activity. Many physicians believe that the major cause of chronic low back pain is simply physical conditioning. More specifically low endurance in the large muscle groups particularly the back extensors seems to put one at a greater risk of developing lower back pain.

Looking at what causes the lower back pain, aerobic training and exercises for the low back should be performed on a regular basis as a part of the cure and prevention of LBP.
Those with excess body weight should reduce their weight.
Those having a sedentary life or a deskbound job should exercise regularly.

It is clear that physical fitness combined with healthy lifestyle helps prevent lower back pain.

Stay Healthy!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Common movements a person with osteoporosis should avoid.

In one of my earlier post I wrote about the importance of calcium for osteoporosis. Today I want to make you aware of the certain movements that can aggravate the problem and has to be avoided whether you are working out in a gym or at home. I have prepared a list of exercises that a person with osteoporosis should avoid.

Jumping exercises such as plyometrics, high impact aerobics, jogging and running puts a lot of impact on the bones which can cause further damage to the bones.

Spinal flexion
Spinal flexion exercises such as crunches and rowing machines (rowing machine, which is otherwise one of the best cardiovascular as well as strength training exercise) should be avoided by a person with osteoporosis.

Step aerobics
Many individuals take part in step aerobics which is actually a very good form of cardiovascular exercise however step aerobics should be excluded from your exercise routine.

Leg adduction and abduction against a resistance
Not many people know that adducting and abducting leg movements against resistance are actually bad for those with osteoporosis.

Neck Pull
This movement of pulling the neck with the hands behind the head is mostly done during cool down periods and while stretching the upper trapezius muscle. Avoid it.

While the above listed movements cause no risk to a fit person, a person with osteoporosis should avoid these forms of movements. Like these there will be more movements that are good for a fit person but might not be right for those with the problem of osteoporosis. Please consult your physician before getting into any form of exercises.

Stay Healthy! 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Include Warm Up and Cool Down periods in your exercise routine

Warm Up
Warming Up by walking on a treadmill. 
It is a technique of preparing the body for an exercise bout. During exercises our muscles contract. For this contraction of muscles to occur at optimum level, the muscles should be prepared (warmed up) for the upcoming stress, pressure, weight that we put on them during exercise.
If a person starts an exercise bout without warming up the body, that person may well be at risk of being injured. That is because cold muscles are susceptible to injuries. Injury in the form of cramps, sprains, strains etc. are common when an exerciser skips a warm up. Warm up increases the temperature of the muscles and connectives tissues thereby reducing the risk of soft tissue injury.
When an exerciser incorporates warm up periods in his or her workouts, they can finish the exercise with ease.

Walking or slow cycling for 5 to 10 minutes before any kind of exercise (e.g. aerobics, weight lifting) is the best way to prepare (warm up). This will allow the cardiovascular system to adjust to the blow flow. In addition, lifting light weights before engaging in heavy lifts is the best method to prepare your muscles for weight training.

                                             Cool Down
Cooling down with a Quadricep Stretch.
During exercises there is an increased amount of blood returning to the heart. If an exerciser stops all of a sudden without gradually lowering the pace of the activity it may result in pooling of blood. Cool down periods are as important as the warm up periods.
5 to 10 minutes of walking or slow cycling followed by stretching is a good approach to end an exercise session.

Warm up and cool down not only reduces the risk of injury but it also aids going through the whole exercise session without fatiguing.
In short the best action for both, Warm up and Cool down is to simply work at a much lower pace in the beginning and at the end of an exercise session. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

How important is breathing while exercising?

Breathing right is one important aspect people forget to do during exercises. Do not hold your breath. Holding the breath while exercising (while applying force) causes Valsalva maneuver. Valsalva maneuver is performed by forcible exhalation against a closed airway, usually done by closing one's mouth and pinching one's nose shut. This causes increase in blood pressure, strains blood vessels and many other health issues. Breathing is very important. During exercise there is a high demand for oxygen by the exercising muscles and if we hold our breath we are halting the natural process of the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide gases that takes place in our bodies. This causes depletion of oxygen to the muscles and brain and causes fatigue.

Our natural tendency is to hold our breath while engaging in activities like lifting, pushing, pulling etc. We are so used to doing this that we also do our exercises in the same manner. And because of this we cannot finish our exercise bout effectively.

There is a proper technique of breathing while exercising. During weight training one should make sure to exhale during exertion. For e.g. if you are doing a biceps curls, you should breathe out while curling up (flexing) and breathe in while coming back to the starting position. It’s simple, just remember exhale on positive contraction and inhale on negative contraction. E.g. in a biceps curl the positive is up movement and negative is down movement.
That’s about breathing the right way during weight training. What about during aerobic or cardiovascular training? It’s simple, do not over exert yourself, and reduce the intensity on the first sign of hyperventilation (rapid breathing which causes abnormal loss of carbon dioxide). Taking slow and deep breaths will help you recuperate if you are breathing heavy.
Don’t forget to breathe during abdominal exercises and stretching. During abdominal exercises for e.g. while doing abdominal crunches, remember to apply the same technique; breathe out on crunching movement and breathe in on down movement.
So remember, whatever exercise you are engaged in, whether its weight training, aerobic training, abdominal exercises or stretching, do not hold your breath. In order to get this breathing technique right, one has to practice it and in no time will do it without thinking.

Now that you learnt how to breathe right go and put it to practice and do a big favor to your heart, muscles and the brain that want that big dose of oxygen during exercise.

Stay Healthy!  

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Weight loss pills/products; do they really work?

Everyday hundreds and thousands of calories are stored as fats in an individual who indulge in excessive eating. And everyday there are many individuals who realize the risk of being overweight and are thinking of losing weight. And everyday there are various companies launching weight loss products, targeting this section of people. When these individuals see an easy way to lose weight, they buy the product but unfortunately nothing happens and the companies make big cash. While these companies have been giving false claims about their products for years, people are still falling prey to their gimmicks.

Till date there is no such product that can help reduce fat weight the healthy way. Only a combination of a well balanced diet and a well designed exercise program is the healthy route to weight loss.
Those who are interested in losing fat weight should educate themselves about calorie intake and calorie expenditure and not think about the weight loss powders, pills, creams, belts etc because they will only make a hole in your pocket.
A dietician will help you plan a healthy diet. If you are planning or have already started your weight loss program, just stick to your regimen and you will surely see results. If you have any queries please feel free to ask.

Stay Healthy!

Starting a weightloss program? Follow these simple steps to reach your goals. Please go to the link below...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Exercise Guidelines For Asthmatics.

First things first, if you are an asthmatic, do not participate in exercises until and unless your physician tells you to, because only those with stable asthma should exercise.

Asthma is one of the most common respiratory disorders affecting both adults and children. While asthmatics will benefit from an exercise program, there is a fear of getting an asthma attack during exercise which is called exercise-induced asthma (EIA).
There is not much of an explanation on the exact cause of EIA. However it is believed to be caused when the airways become dry as moisture is absorbed from the air as it passes from the nose to the lungs. EIA causes little obstruction in the airway and are not life threatening. Those with controlled asthma who take part in regular exercises will be able to participate in their daily activities with fewer asthma attacks as their ventilatory requirement for various tasks will be reduced. Studies have shown that those exercising regularly have reduced EIA.
While participating in an exercise routine is beneficial, it is important to work along with your physician who will develop an appropriative exercise program and provide parameters to your personal trainers.

A few exercise guidelines:-
  • Keep your bronchodilator with you at all times. Using your bronchodilator several minutes before exercising may reduce the possibility of an EIA.
  • Use bronchodilator on first sign of wheezing.
  • Breathe through your nose while exercising.
  • Avoid rigorous exercise by keeping the intensity low and gradually progress.
  • Asthmatics often respond best to exercise in the mid to late morning.
  • Drink lots of water during exercises.

While these guidelines will help you adhere to your exercise regimen, remember only a person with stable asthma should participate in exercises. Your physician will tell you whether you can exercise or not and he will also give you many more guidelines to follow.

Stay Healthy!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Is the Knee Pain keeping you away from working out?

Knee pain has been a common injury that causes most exercisers to stop or take a break from exercising. While it very important to discontinue any form of exercise when there is pain, it is also important to know how to avoid these kind of injuries in the first place. Remember; do not apply the proverb “No Pain No Gain” to your exercise routines. What is important in any kind of exercise is “Proper Technique”.

Knee injuries are most of the time the result of overuse. Those doing cardio training walk, jog, run on treadmills every day. All these exercises are weight bearing because all our body weight is on our knees while we are engaged in these exercises.

While treadmills are a great cardio workout, doing it every day will cause pain in the knees. The best way to go along with your cardio workout without any discomfort and breaks due to pain and injury, indulge in working out also on a stationary bike, elliptical machine, rowing machine and stair climber. All these are great cardio machines. While stationary bike is the best among all the machines because it is non weight bearing i.e. while doing this exercise the weight is not on the knees, the best thing you can do is choose to workout on a different machine each day or distribute you workout time on all machines. For e.g. if you’re doing a 45 mins cardio workout on a treadmill most of the days, what you could do is 15 mins treadmill, 15 mins cycle and 15 mins elliptical. This kind of approach is the best to avoid overuse injury to your knee.

If you have read this post and made changes to your workout and your knees felt better, which I am sure will be the case; please don’t forget to let me know.

Stay Healthy!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Too Flexible? It could lead to an injury.

There are evidences that an excessive level of flexibility can result in a decreased degree of joint stability. There is a trade-off between flexibility and stability. This decrease in joint stability is particularly evident when the flexibility increase is the result of lengthening the connective tissue structures that stabilize a particular joint.
For example, Deep knee bends, may increase the range of motion of the knee joint to the point where the knee becomes more susceptible to chronic or acute instability.
As such, an individual's range of motion for each joint should be determined by the demands of the individual.
It should be noted that an excessive range of motion for a given joint could result in decreased stability and a greater potential for injury.
I have noticed a few trainers trying to stretch the clients joints by forcefully stretching even after knowing that they are too flexible. This kind of forceful stretching for an already flexible person does not aid, rather it will make your joints more susceptible to injury.

Strength training is the best way to deal with this problem. By doing strength training your ligaments (tissue that connects bone to bone) will become stronger and increase stability and thereby making the joint less susceptible to injury.

Remember flexibility is necessary but that does not mean you should try to touch you head to your feet.

Stay Healthy!