I welcome all my readers to this beautiful journey- A journey not merely from “FAT TO FIT” but towards “HEALTH, HOPE AND HAPPINESS”!!! Not so long ago, the word “fitness” was limited to only a particular group of people like celebrities, athletes, swimmers, dancers etc. But in today’s contemporary world, it is really astonishing to see that every common man talks about fitness and is determined to be fit. So what does fitness actually mean???
“Fitness” is a broad term. It means something different to each person. It is infact a very personal term. In general, fitness is the ability to live a full and balanced life. It breeds self-reliance and keeps man mentally alert. Physical fitness is also essential for human beings to adjust well with their environment as their mind and body are in complete harmony.
In 1967, H.Harrison Clarke, who has significantly contributed in the field of physical education and is the author of multiple books on physical education defined fitness as “ The ability to carry out daily tasks (work and play) with vigour and alertness without undue fatigue and with ample energy to enjoy leisure time pursuits and to meet unforeseen emergencies”.
But in today’s fast-paced world where everything is INSTANT-from instant food (whether healthy or not), instant news (fake or otherwise), instant google answers (many a times creating confusion) to instant money transfer (though filled with security issues), everyone has forgotten that the beauty of life lies in focusing on “Being in the Present”.
According to my observations, there are two groups of population. One group of the population, especially the youngsters, expect instant fitness failing to understand the fact that it could turn out to be dangerous. They forget the fact that “PATIENCE IS THE KEY”. The saddest part is that with the beginning of new year and with a list of resolutions in mind, the overzealous, instant gratification selves of this group of people emerge and they do too much exercise in order to make up for the lost time. They can be called the “FITNESS FREAKS” and they develop an unhealthy obsession with staying healthy.
“It’s going to be a journey, it’s not a sprint to get in shape” -Kerri Walsh Jennings
The other group of population are those who do not want to start any type of physical exercise, at any point of time and they just keep postponing. They are known as the “SEDENTARY” population and are defined as those expanding less than 10% of their daily energy in the performance of moderate to high intensity activities. This attitude is harmful for the generation. In today’s rush, they fail to realize that health is a precious asset until it has been depleted. The start is what stops most people especially in matters related to fitness.
Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. -Arthur Asle
Now, I leave it to the readers to decide about which group of population they belong to. There is also one last group of population about which I have not mentioned. These are the people who have already started with the fitness activities but are still left with lot’s of confusion in their minds and infact are strong believers of some common ‘myths’ as ‘facts’ associated with fitness. The purpose of my article is basically to throw some light over these myths, misconceptions and misbeliefs and to highlight some DO’S AND DON’TS about fitness in a simple, comprehensible and lucid way.
Irrespective of the type of person you are, here goes the list of some DO’S AND DON’TS about fitness for all.
1. Always get a physical examination and consult experts: Everybody is different and every person reacts to muscle strain in a different way. So kindly consult your physician for a general health check up before you engage yourself in any kind of new exercise or fitness workouts. Never hesitate to take advice from experts (physical therapist or personal trainer). Make sure you do the exercise safely and effectively.
2. Be determined and set your goal: The best investment you can ever make is in your health. When you feel like quitting, always think about the reason for your initiation.
3. Do it for yourself: Fitness is not about being better than someone else, it is all about being better than you used to be. Being the best version of oneself.
4. Set aside time for exercise: Put all your excuses aside and make time for exercise. One hour of workout is just 4% of your whole day. Cut the time you use for browsing through WhatsApp and social media pages or the time you use for playing some online games to make time for exercise.
5. Make it a habit: Research shows that frequent, early repetitions of certain behaviours, such as exercise, make it more likely to become something you do automatically. Once you see the results, it becomes an addiction. Fitness is more about mental than a physical challenge.
6. Take rest at regular intervals: According to the performance and well-being coach George Anderson- “For most of the people especially beginners, periods of recovery between sets or intervals allows for higher intensity, better quality movement, lower risk of injury and a greater training stimulus that is likely to lead to superior results”. Remember that “Soreness is never a sign of good workout”. Less rest never means that you are working hard. Pain always signals that something is not working properly. Overexertion signs are fatigue, muscle soreness, dehydration, exhaustion.Overexertion can cause injuries like muscle sprains, strains and tears, tendinitis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Joint dislocations, herniated discs, stress fractures etc.
7. Always keep yourself hydrated: There is always the risk of dehydration especially while working out in hot, humid weather and during rigorous prolonged workouts due to excessive sweating. Severe dehydration could be dangerous as it can create electrolyte imbalances and strain the muscles.
8. Record your improvements: Always keep a track of your improvements whether physical or mental as they give a sense of pride in your accomplishments and motivate you to continue in your path towards fitness without any hindrance.
1. Do not get obsessed with fitness: There lies a darker reality behind the fitness fanatics. Especially with the ongoing COVID pandemic, we are exercising now more than ever. But everything in moderation is best. Everything that exceeds the bounds of moderation has an unstable foundation. These days the “fitness trackers” and devices of various brands like Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, Huawei are used ubiquitously and they have occupied almost everyone’s wrists. According to a recent report by Glasgow-based general practitioner Dr. Des Spence, all health-tracking devices were contributing to an ‘unhealthy health-obsessed generation’ (also published in British Medical Jour
2. Never start off too hard: It is always better to take small steps. A journey of a thousand miles always begins with a single step. Don’t be overwhelmed and do not binge on exercise. Slow down and start again after you feel refreshed and rejuvenated. Moderate exercise has shown to improve the immune system while excessive exercise could suppress it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), increased workouts don’t assure health benefits. Experts say that extreme exercises may also lead to heart damage and heart rhythm disorders. One study found that repeated extreme exercises can remodel the heart, thickening the heart walls and scarring tissue. You don’t have to be extreme, just be consistent
3. Don’t just focus on weight loss: It’s quite common for the beginners to check their weight on the weighing scale after every workout and keep a track of even a gram increase or decrease in weight. Don’t make weight loss your sole marker of success. You will lose weight slowly. Target on fat loss rather than on weight loss because as you become fitter, you will gain muscle and become more toned –muscle weighs more than fat. So the process is definitely a slow one.
4. Do not starve/ Don’t binge: Make sure to give your body the right nutritious food to fuel your workouts. Women are at risk for what is known as the “female athlete triad” that includes: loss of menstruation, osteoporosis and eating disorders. These symptoms arise from a combination of overexercise and calorie restriction. Also there is an eating disorder known as “Orthorexia nervosa” that involves an unhealthy obsession with eating foods that one considers as healthy.
Lastly, I would also like to add that Fitness has no age limits. It is not limited to workout routines, equipment or machinery. You could choose your own way to be fit. Even simple house cleaning or dancing or short walking can be preferred for staying fir. Fitness can be found at your fist. Yes, clenching a smiley ball in your fist is also a way of exercising. It’s never too early or too late to work towards being the healthiest and best version of you.
I would conclude with these beautiful lines: “Train like an athlete, eat like a nutritionist, sleep like a baby, win like a champion”.
So let’s all begin our journey towards HEALTH, HOPE AND HAPPINESS………….
Composed by: “Dr. Shubha. H.V is a pathologist working as Lab head in SRL diagnostics, Fortis hospital, Rajajinagar, Bangalore.”