Saturday, October 8, 2011

What to do when you are 30 plus, don't exercise much and your joints and health are showing signs of aging?

In this post I hope to help people who are above 30 and simplify how they should go about getting fit. There are a lot of people who usually don't workout much or just go for an occasional morning or evening stroll in the near by park. These are the people who don't know what to do or they get misguided when they develop signs of joint pains or their doctor prescribes regular exercise to beat their rising sugar or cholesterol levels. Most of these people in this situation end up joining gyms, yoga or aerobics studios or start doing some workout on their own. For making the post more inclusive we will consider people who have not done any workout for quite some time now except for an occasional walk.

Before we get into discussing how one should go about with the workout I would like to caution one and all about a very peculiar and wrong situation that prevails in most gyms in India. When a new member joins a gym which has more than one head coach who assigns the workout to all members. The member will find themselves in an invisible war between the coaches at the gym. Each coach trying to prove himself or herself to be more knowledgeable and effective in resolving the reasons the member has joined for. This wrongly channelized zeal of the coaches can spell disaster for the members. As the coaches aims shifts from helping improve your fitness levels to bringing about a visible change in you so as to gain popularity at the gym.  In their zeal to get results you may end up doing workout that not only causes exhaustion but will further harm your joints in the long run and may even result in muscles or ligaments to tear. Finding a good trainer or coach is more than half the battle won. 

Workout for those with Joint Pains -

If one has not been working out for even more than 8 months then the most important thing to remember is that the muscle strength and endurance levels are very low. However most people with knee joint related issues are advised by many to take up cycling. I agree that cycling is a wonderful workout but it also puts strain on the thigh muscles. Now if your muscle structure is not prepared and its endurance levels are low and you start cycling with the hope of benefiting your knee's well then you may just end up harming the knee further. When the muscles are not ready to endure the strain of the workout it adds further more strain to the joints. So in my view if you have knee joint pains then first task is to strengthen the thigh muscles before getting on with cycling or any other workout to strengthen and align the joint. Some take up yoga when their joints begin to trouble. Yoga is a very nice workout I personally feel anyone at any age can do it. However in this situation I feel just waking up one day and joining yoga is a big NO. Yoga has numerous asana's and when you join a yoga class or studio you will get into various asana's and try to hold there for some time. To hold in any asana means to put strain on the muscles which again transfer the load that they can not take on to the concerned joint. This applies to all the joints of the body. In my opinion when one is troubled with joint pains you should ideally start with just walking, now again when I say walking it does not mean that you leisurely stroll nor should you walk like there is no tomorrow. Moderation is the key and the solution to good health. Walk at a comfortable or normal walking pace for a comfortable distance. Do not set any preconceived distance targets. Just walk cautiously moderating your speed and distance as days pass by gradually increasing distance first rather than speed. Increasing speed too soon is another common mistake.Usually it may take a month or two of regular walking to improve the general health of the muscles, as the muscles strengthen the joints will also get more support from them. Once the thigh muscles start feeling toned you can move on to some light leg raises and slow and steady speed of cycling. When using a stationary Cycle do not try to give short bursts of increasing speed while cycling your body is not ready for that yet. You can also start with some free hand workouts for the shoulder, back and arms at this point. Some exercises like wall push ups or twisting and touching the wall etc are easy less straining and ideal at this stage. After a month of walking with bit of cycling and free hand workout the body is ready to get into the next stage of workout that is you can now join a gym, yoga studio, even an aerobics or kick boxing class. Am sure with careful monitoring and discipline without any haste you can safely move from being totally unfit to pretty fit within 6 months of time. In my personal opinion those who are having knee joint pains could wear a knee support for 8 - 10 hours a day for 6 - 10 days in a month. This will help immensely in setting the knee alignment right. Weight training is said to be good as it improves bone density and also helps in stopping the advance of Osteoporosis in women. However it is best to start with weight training slowly and only after the body has a basic level of fitness.

Workout for those with problems related to excess weight or rising blood sugar and cholesterol -

If this is something that is troubling you then I suggest be patient. I have seen many people with such issues specially those being over weight who end up harming their body more than it already was. Quite a few people in this category wake up to exercising with a rude shock from their close ones or by their doctor prescribing exercise to them. The shock at times scares them making some of them obsessed. This leads them to going in for lots of workout, diet plans and almost a complete lifestyle change. Well all of them are good but changing everything so abruptly is the worst thing one can do. Start again with general walking. Most people have a pretty good diet what it needs is just a bit of trimming or changing here and there. There is no need for a complete revamp of all the food in your kitchen cabinets. Another common mistake made by people  who desire to shed weight is they will all of a sudden stop using the lift and start climbing up and down the stairs. This is a good exercise but also exerts a lot of strain so it is best not to do so till the body tone has improved a bit. So ideally once you have started walking regularly and say after 20 days of that you could start with just climbing up one flight of stairs daily and increase it by another flight of stairs every 20 days or so. Some may need more time in between before increasing to the next level so take your call. Listen to your body it will guide you. After a month or two of walking with moderation and gradual increase in distance and speed then you can move on to cycling and other free hand or light weight exercises. Jogging is still a  big NO if you are over weight, the body needs more time to get ready for aerobic and cardiovascular exercises. If you take to jogging or very brisk walking too soon (which is a regular sight at gyms) you may get your results with reducing your weight but the damage you are doing to your joints will start creeping few months or years later. Most important be consistent with results being slow or when people reach a plateau they tend to give up or increase their workout levels directly by a few notches. Both are bad so do not do that be patient and enjoy the workout without the pressure of results always encircling you. The right time when you could start jogging or get into any other form of cardiovascular exercises is something best decided by seeing your fitness levels in person, so I would not like to set any time frame in general with regard to this.  However I have one advice to all those who jog on the treadmill. I have seen many a times and am sure most of you have too that some people who jog on the treadmill literally force themselves to jog at certain speeds. They will hold the control panel tight in order to keep pace with the moving treadmill. This is not required and is very wrong. No good will come by forcing the body to cope with something just because the person on the treadmill next to you is doing that. Remember we do not exercise to show others what we can do, we exercise to improve our fitness levels, to keep ourselves healthy for our own selves so do not bother what others are doing or can do. Just enjoy your workout at your own pace for always remember SLOW AND STEADY  WINS THE RACE. 

I hope the post has given you a brief idea of how to go about improving your fitness and health. You could also contact us for a detailed and articulate setting up of workout routine for you and monitoring them.      

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