Articles on cardiovascular fitness

Take 'Work' Out of Your Workout With a Fitness Plan That 'Fits' You

Dr. Sonia Talreja Dhawan P.T, Physiotherapist
Congratulations!!Now that you’ve decided to give importance to physical activity into your daily life, the next step is to choose the right kind of activity for you.What is pre-exercise screening?See your doctor for advice before you start any new physical activity program, especially if you are over 40 years, overweight, haven’t exercised in long time or suffer from chronic medical condition.It is a filter or ‘safety net’ to help decide if the potential benefits of exercise outweigh the risks for you.Steps to your 'perfect' workoutDefine your goalWhat do you want to achieve out of your plan?Lose weight?Build body?Tone muscles?Increase stamina?General fitness?Social and emotional wellbeing?Different exercises performed at different intensities give different results. When you know your goal, your program can be customized accordingly to fit that need.   2. Define amount of physical activity you needWhile ‘how much’ depends on your previous activity status, there are certain guidelines available for particular goals of exercise.In an attempt to generalize NHS of UK suggests that adults aged 19 to 64 years should do:At least 150 mins of moderate aerobic exercise such as cycling or fast walking,And,Strength exercises on 2 or more days a week working on all major muscle groups.OR75 mins of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running or a game of singles tennis every week,And,Strength exercises on 2 or more days a week working on all major muscle groups.One way to do your recommended 150 mins of weekly physical activity is to do 30 mins on 5 days a week.  3. Identify your style of physical activityDo you like things organized or prefer a more casual approach? Do you like to do things on your own or to be part of a group based activity?Some similar issues to be considered:Are you self motivated or are more likely to commit to a physical activity routine with a training buddy or you are more of a team sports playing person participating in organized group activity programs ?Choose an activity you enjoy and would need minimal effort to adhere to the routine. Choose an exercise program that compliments your job. Indoor workers may choose an outdoor activity while field job workers with more walking and standing should choose upper body workout like rowing and swimming.Consider your time commitment, which is how much time and what time of the day do you plan to work out?  4. What activity is best for you?Consider the advantages and disadvantages of some common exercises to help you decide which may be the best activity for you.CyclingBenefits:Gentle on your joints especially knee and ankles.Burns plenty of caloriesGood source of cardiovascular workoutCan be incorporated as a means of transportIssues:Equipment like a good quality bicycle and its protective equipment like helmet, knee pads are essential.Be traffic conscious and plan your route accordingly.Gym membershipBenefits:Wide range of equipments under one roofOpportunity to improve all round healthInstructors on hand to help you use equipment correctly.Issues:Expensive membershipsProne to injuriesRunningBenefits:Helps build strong bonesIncreases your cardiovascular fitnessMinimal equipments requiredIssues:High impact on joints (especially if performed inappropriately)Prone to injuriesSwimmingBenefits:Gentle on your joints.Less risk of injuryLow impact activityIncreases your cardiovascular fitness along with back, chest and arms strength.Issues:It is a learned skillDoes not strengthen bones or burns as many caloriesTeam sportsBenefits:Offer friendship and funEasy to exercise while enjoyingKeeps your motivation high even by the end of sessionMost sports such as soccer or netball quickly build cardiovascular health.Issues:Warm up necessary or may lead to injuries.Some sports may be seasonal for winter or summer sportsStrength training (With free weights or equipment)Benefits:Strengthens bones, build muscles and burn plenty of calories too!!Issues:Must be built up gradually.Needs either a gym membership or home equipment.Incorrect technique or heavier weights puts you at high risk of serious injuries.CHECKLIST OF YOUR PERFECT WORKOUT PROGRAMFits your lifestyle, including activities you love, so you can stick with it for a long time.A well rounded program with aerobic, strength training, balance and flexibility exercises.A program that starts with your current level of fitness and takes into account any previous injuries or current limitations.A program that keeps your routines fresh and keeps you motivated.

Interval Training to Build Your Fitness Fast

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Among the latest and most effective exercise routine for fast fat loss, improving performance, raising fitness levels, increasing endurance or getting started on a regular fitness regime interval training has been the touted to most effective routine.Short burst of high intensity training for a short period of time is known as Interval Training. You can do interval training with almost any kind of exercise. Interval training requires you to do a certain exercise with full power for a small duration and then rest for some time and repeat. For beginners a 1:3 ratio is recommended. It means every exercise is done for 10 seconds, also called a set, which is then repeated three times for ten seconds each without giving a gap.Interval training helps in burning fast calories and is highly effective for someone who is looking to get into shape fast. You can do interval training with sprinting, cycling training, high intensity interval training etc. Interval training is tough but effective in improving your performance. You can increase the intensity of the exercise according to your capacity and fitness levels. You can do 60 seconds of interval training which will test your guts and then rest. You could do skipping, squat jumps, sprinting etc for high intensity interval training which will quickly burn the energy reserves and then burn the fat in your body.This mode of training is effective for beginners as well as regular fitness enthusiasts. Interval training increases the heart rate and builds endurance and strength. It must be noted that a high intensity workout must be alternated with rest or moderate workout for recovery.The type of interval you perform varies with your objective of Interval training. If you want to build cardio endurance then aerobics interval is suitable for you. Anaerobic interval helps improve sprinting and power for sports. Weight lifting is a kind of anaerobic training and when done with heavy weights it can be done as interval training.Some Interval Training exercises for Weight loss and high Fitness LevelsStair Climbing: If you live in a building with 4 floors or have access to an long alley of stairs then get started with stair climbing interval. with all your power sprint up the stairs without resting or intentionally decreasing your power. Once you reach up walk down easily and do 6-8 intervals per session. It improves your heart rate, increases performance and burns quick calories.Swimming: If you have been lazing around in the water and looking to improve your fitness levels then change your mode of training. All you need to do is swim with high intensity for an entire length and then rest or moderately come back. Do 10-12 lengths of high intensity lengths. Same benefits as stair climbing.Cycling: Do interval training with cycling, elliptical etc. Do high intensity cycling for atleast one minute without resting or stopping in between and then rest for 2 minutes and then again do the interval. Do 8-10 high intensity one minute or more bouts.Treadmill: Many people religiously stick to their treadmills and continuously run on the treadmill according to their comfort levels. But for weight loss change the running to interval training. Do one - two minutes of high intensity running and then slow it down one to two levels below for 4 minutes and then run again at high intensity for two minutes and rest again with lower speed.

How Smoking Is Affecting Your Fitness

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Smoking not only causes lung disease and cancer, it is also bad for your teeth, skin and makes you look older. Now studies show that smoking even kills your motivation to be physically active.Researchers in Brazil found that smokers are less likely and have less motivation to be physically active than non-smokers. The reason is here:-To achieve peak performance, your heart and muscles need more oxygen, but when you inhale tobacco smoke, carbon monoxide binds to the red blood cells, that displace the oxygen, preventing oxygen delivery to muscles and other tissues. This causes increase in lactic acid (the substance that causes muscle ‘burning’, fatigue, heavier breathing, and increased soreness post exercise). This decrease in oxygen will even reduce your physical endurance, making it more difficult for you to not only exercise or play an active sport, but will even hamper daily activities, such as walking up the stairs and doing household chores.This decrease in oxygen causes a smoker’s resting heart rate to be higher than a non-smoker’s, because the heart must work harder to deliver adequate oxygen to the body.Apart from lung disease and exercise capacity, there are other adverse effects of smoking on physical fitness, such as:1. Obtaining less benefit from physical training because smoking makes you feel tired, and drives down your performance.2. Lesser muscular strength, lower endurance, stamina and flexibility. That makes you more prone to injury and stiffness. Also, it leads to poorer results from physical training.3. Disturbed sleep patterns because tobacco contains nicotine, which is a stimulant, to increase your heart rate, blood pressure and makes you more alert and awake. That makes it harder for you to get to sleep.4. Smokers suffer from shortness of breath almost three times as often as non-smokers because after smoking the amount of mucus released by the lungs increases which makes it difficult for the cilia to clean the lungs.5. Twice as likely to suffer an injury as non-smokers6. Require more time to heal after an injury. Muscle repair takes longer.It is ironic that exercising can actually help smokers to quit smoking, since it decreases craving for nicotine, according to a 2012 review of studies in the journal Addiction.

Why Your Workout Is Not Working

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Exercise is the most natural fat burner and detox mechanism. But we often see people slogging away for hours at the gym and don’t see any effect of the exercise on their appearance. There could be multiple factors responsible for your workout to not give you the real results. Let us understand each one of them in some more details.Your Body Gets Adjusted: If you have been exercising the same pattern from last several weeks, month or year your body gets adjusted to the workout and therefore stops burning calories effectively. That 30 minutes workout which was challenging for you several months back will no longer provide you the same result. To get the desired results from your workout it is necessary to push yourself by increasing the frequency, intensity, or duration of your workouts.You are Not Resting: Sometimes over-exercising can have the similar effect as not exercising at all. It is important to give a rest to your muscles because if you are not giving rest to your muscles it can lead to breakdown of muscles instead of building. If you are over-training you will feel tired and sore all the time, have unexplained headaches, insomnia or just a general lack of motivation and an inability to complete your workouts. To get the result from your workout include rest in your exercises. You can take a complete day rest in between your workout schedule. Then slowly ease back into your routine, making shorter, less intense workouts part of your workout plan. And remember to always take one to two rest or easy active recovery days a week.Check Your Diet: Exercise is important for weight loss but if you are not eating right it can affect your body adversely. If you are eating too less then it limits the availability of energy required for doing the workout and if you are eating extra this may lead to weight gain. So, it is important to have a balanced and healthy diet with proper workout routine to manage your weight. Try to opt for healthy snack options instead of fried foods. Never skip your breakfast and drink enough water in the day to keep yourself hydrated.Check Your Workout Schedule: A proper exercise plan includes cardio, strength training and flexibility. If you're just doing cardio, then you will be burning calories and strengthening your cardiovascular system, but you won't be really changing your body composition by building more muscle. For that you need strength training. You can also include some resistant training or weight training in your schedule by doing lunges, push-ups, etc. This will help you in burning your fat from the body and also helps you in building your muscles.Food as a Prize: Do you reward yourself with an extra piece of pizza or with a piece of cake as dessert because you went to gym this morning? If yes, then you are making a big mistake. Treating yourself with your favorite food once in a week is fine but if you are doing it on daily basis you are undoing all of that good calorie-burning with too many treats. Try to focus on the benefits of the exercise and eat proper healthy and balanced diet so that it fuels your workout.Get Enough Sleep: If you are busy in your life and think of doing the workout early in the morning by swapping with your sleep, then it can hinder your weight loss. It is important to have a proper and enough sleep to manage your weight. Not having enough sleep triggers a number of hormones that influence cravings and a tendency for weight gain. In addition, too many sleepless nights will leave you tired and unfocused for your workouts, which means that you won't get much from your efforts. Try to manage your schedule so that you get enough sleep and also get the time for your workout.Check Your Working Pattern: It is important to have daily workout routine but what are you doing rest of the day also matters a lot. If your job requires sitting all the day in front of computer then try to have a walk after every few hours. You can also do some stretching in between the interval time. You can also opt for stairs instead of elevator or accelerator in your office or in your residing building.If you are not viewing the results that you were expecting from your workout than think about above mentioned problems and may be you can find out one or two reasons. Lastly, results don't happen overnight. It takes time and consistency to get in shape over the long time duration. All you need is to keep faith and have patience with proper diet and exercise routine. Remember that you are trying to make lifestyle changes which you have to sustain for lifetime.

Swimming

Dr. Yogesh Kumar, Ayurveda
Swimming is a great workout because you need to move your whole body against the resistance of the water.Swimming is a great form of all-round exercise. It's ideal if you want to be more active and stay healthy, whatever your age or ability.Swimming is a lifelong skill that could save a life. If you can't swim, it's never too late to learn. Most pools cater for a variety of tastes and abilities, such as women-only classes, parent and toddler groups, and lessons for different age groups.Health benefits of swimmingSwimming is a good all-round activity because Regular swimming can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and  stroke. It can also boost your mood and keep your weight under control.keeps your heart rate up but takes some of the impact stress off your body builds endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness helps maintain a healthy weight, healthy heart and lungs tones muscles and builds strength provides an all-over body workout as nearly all of your muscles are used during swimming.It improve circulation,boost heart and lung function,increase muscle tone and strength,build endurance,reduce swelling and fluid retention and burn calories, which helps to manage weight gain  and promote good sleep.Avoid swimming alone. Plan your swim: check the water temperature, entry and exit points, currents and tides (where relevant), weather conditions and water cleanliness.The swimming pool makes a great playground and a great gym, even for non-swimmers, with activities such as aqua fit. However, learning to swim will introduce you to a whole new world of water-based activities in the pool and beyond.Try to set aside time every week to go to the pool, before or after work or on weekends. Write it in a diary so it becomes a permanent fixture in your weekly schedule. Consider getting an annual swim pass. This will help you save money and encourage you to go more often.

Cycling for a Better Health

Dr. Yogesh Kumar, Ayurveda
To be fit and healthy you need to be physically active. Regular physical activity can help protect you from serious diseases such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, diabetes and arthritis. Riding your bicycle regularly is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle.Cycling is a healthy, low-impact exercise that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, from young children to older adults. It is also fun, cheap and good for the environment.Riding to work or the shops is one of the most time-efficient ways to combine regular exercise with your everyday routine. An estimated one billion people ride bicycles every day – for transport, recreation and sport.Cycling for health and fitness It only takes two to four hours a week to achieve a general improvement to your health. Cycling is:Low impact – it causes less strain and injuries than most other forms of exercise.A good muscle workout – cycling uses all of the major muscle groups as you pedal.Easy – unlike some other sports, cycling does not require high levels of physical skill. Most people know how to ride a bike and, once you learn, you don’t forget.Good for strength and stamina – cycling increases stamina, strength and aerobic fitness.As intense as you want – cycling can be done at very low intensity to begin with, if recovering from injury or illness, but can be built up to a demanding physical workout.A fun way to get fit – the adventure and buzz you get from coasting down hills and being outdoors means you are more likely to continue to cycle regularly, compared to other physical activities that keep you indoors or require special times or places.Time-efficient – as a mode of transport, cycling replaces sedentary (sitting) time spent driving motor vehicles or using trams, trains or buses with healthy exercise.Health benefits of regular cyclingCycling is mainly an aerobic activity, which means that your heart, blood vessels and lungs all get a workout. You will breathe deeper, perspire and experience increased body temperature, which will improve your overall fitness level. The health benefits of regular cycling include:increased cardiovascular fitness increased muscle strength and flexibility improved joint mobility decreased stress levels improved posture and coordination strengthened bones decreased body fat levels prevention or management of disease reduced anxiety and depression.Cycling and specific health issues Cycling can improve both physical and mental health, and can reduce the chances of experiencing many health problems.Obesity and weight control .Cycling is a good way to control or reduce weight, as it raises your metabolic rate, builds muscle and burns body fat. If you’re trying to lose weight, cycling must be combined with a healthy eating plan. Cycling is a comfortable form of exercise and you can change the time and intensity – it can be built up slowly and varied to suit you.Cardiovascular disease and cycling Cardiovascular diseases include stroke, high blood pressure and heart attack. Regular cycling stimulates and improves your heart, lungs and circulation, reducing your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Cycling strengthens your heart muscles, lowers resting pulse and reduces blood fat levels.Cancer and cycling Many researchers have studied the relationship between exercise and cancer, especially colon and breast cancer. Research has shown that if you cycle, the chance of bowel cancer is reduced. Some evidence suggests that regular cycling reduces the risk of breast cancer. Diabetes and cycling The rate of type 2 diabetes is increasing and is a serious public health concern. Lack of physical activity is thought to be a major reason why people develop this condition. Arthritis and cycling Cycling improves strength, balance and coordination. It may also help to prevent falls and fractures. Riding a bike is an ideal form of exercise if you have osteoarthritis, because it is a low-impact exercise that places little stress on joints.Cycling does not specifically help osteoporosis (bone-thinning disease) because it is not a weight-bearing exercise.Mental illness and cycling Mental health conditions such as depression, stress and anxiety can be reduced by regular bike riding. This is due to the effects of the exercise itself and because of the enjoyment that riding a bike can bring.

Fitness Trackers and Apps - How Effective They Are?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Smart phones are great tools for monitoring fitness and diet goals. They give constant reminders and it is easy to check progress. But these trackers and fitness apps have both advantages and disadvantages.Advantages:Compatible with most phonesThere are a wide variety of fitness/health applications and trackers available. Most of them are being developed for almost every operating system. Millions of users across multiple smart phone operating systems are benefiting from the use of these fitness applications and trackersGet Workout Ideas For Free – For any intensity levelIf time is a valuable commodity for you or you don’t have access to a gym or trainer, some fitness applications provide an amazing variety of workouts for all levels of fitness. These workouts are generally quite effective, free of cost and can be done almost anywhere. They provide you with clear instructions on the exercise form and workout tips that are easy to follow.Set Your Own Fitness Goals Suggested By These AppsYou need to set a goal before starting any exercise routine. These fitness tracking apps allow you to set your goals and even track progress. Some applications regularly remind and motivate you in case you’re falling back on your goal and progress. That’s almost like having a personal trainer.Yoga GuideYoga is one of the most ancient forms of exercise to stay fit and healthy. Some applications act as complete yoga guides, with poses and their specific health benefits.Daily Diet/Calorie MonitoringCertain applications help you manage your diet and calorie intake. There is a comprehensive list of foods with their nutrition and caloric information. Calorie counters are available to keep a track of the total calorie intake. You can even monitor your calorie intake over the last few days or weeks. Diet is one of the most essential components of fitness and these smart apps can help you in monitoring that.Variety in WorkoutsFitness applications provide a variety of workout options ranging from aerobics, pilates, crossfit training, kickboxing to focused muscle workouts and more. With so many options available, it is easy to change your workout if you are bored of your current routine.Additional Health Information and DataHealth and Fitness trackers can track your blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate, pulse, etc. This additional information might be valuable in identifying what food or exercise you need at that point of time, and in assessing your overall health. Many running applications can count your steps and the distance covered in case you are running on an unmarked track or on the road.Disadvantages:Chances for errors, injuries, and inaccurate diet informationWith certain high intensity and complex exercises, it is easy to make a mistake while working out without proper guidance, leading to injuries. Also, some of the diet data might not be up to date and might be inaccurate, leading to miscalculation in your diet and calorie requirements.Apps and Trackers are Under DevelopedWhile apps allows people to scan the barcode of a food product to go into their digital diary (and record all nutritional information), sometimes the scanner will not find the product, and requires constant updating. Additionally, the program does not let members edit quantities of food. For example, if you wanted to record that you ate less than 100grams of oats, then the app might not let you edit that.Mobile DependabilityYes, Apps works on the go, but if there is no wireless signal, it is impossible to log on and save and view data. In certain situations, people are not always in areas with strong wireless signals.Health DrawbackWhile basic science does say a calorie is a calorie, there are other factors are also at play. There are several scientific reasons why food choices should be based on various other aspects – not just calories. Calorie counting seems to be the easiest way to lose weight and achieve fitness goals, but different types of food affect the body in different ways. Two separate diets consisting of the same amount of calories, but with different variations of nutrients (fat, protein, and carbohydrates), may have a much different satiety affect. That’s why it’s important to focus on factors other than just the calories. Also, the application is not aware of your medical issues and the effect of certain foods on your body.Hope these tips can help you decide if fitness trackers and apps are the right choice for your health and fitness goals. But it might be useful to have them handy and available on your smart phone to be used occasionally at least.

10 Healthy Foods for Women: For Better Fitness

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
A healthy diet gives you energy, supports your mood, maintains your weight, and keeps you looking your best. It can also be a huge support through the different stages in life. The importance of regular workout and healthy foods for women helps to reduce Premenstrual syndrome, boost immunity, combat stress, make pregnancy and nursing easier, and ease symptoms of menopause.10 Healthy Foods for Women1. Calcium-Rich FoodsCalcium helps keep bones strong and along with regular weight-bearing exercise, helps to prevent the risk of osteoporosis.- 4 to 8 years: 800 milligrams Healthy foods for women are low-fat dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, fortified cereals etc. Check this list to see how much calcium you need each day:- 9 to 13 years: 1300 milligrams- 14 to 18 years: 1300 milligrams- 19 to 50 years: 1000 milligrams- 51 to 70+ years: 1200 milligrams2. Iron-Rich FoodsDue to their monthly cycles, pre-menopausal women need more iron. Good sources of iron are rice flakes, sprouts, beetroot, spinach, tofu, pomegranate, dried apricots, and jaggery.Women need 12 to 15 milligrams of iron each day, compared to just 10 to 12 milligrams for men.3. Fruits Rich in Vitamin CAnother important list of healthy foods for women are fruits rich in Vitamin C. These include citrus fruits, strawberries, green and red peppers, mustard greens, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, potatoes, kiwi, guava and parsley. In addition to contributing to overall health, fruits rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant, have recently been linked to a decreased risk of coronary heart disease. Fit two to three servings (or more) of fruit into your daily diet. The RDA for vitamin C for women is 75 milligrams a day.4. Green Leafy VegetablesThis category of vegetable includes everything from spinach, methi to darker lettuces and can be considered as a nutritious and healthy food for women. These vegetables provide important nutrients as well as fiber (aim for 20 to 35 grams each day) to the diet. Try to get at least three servings of vegetables each day.5. NutsNuts are very healthy foods for women as it is full of monounsaturated fats, which can help lower cholesterol levels, and polyunsaturated fats, which can help prevent heart disease. Nuts are a good source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, selenium, folate, vitamin E and vitamin A. Nuts pack a lot of calories into their tiny packages, so try to limit your serving to 5-7 a day.6. WaterWater is important for all metabolic processes in the body. It also helps with digestion, weight loss and improves the appearance of the skin. Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water each day is the key. Eating foods with a high water content (like fruits and certain vegetables) will also contribute to your waterintake.7. Cranberries and Cranberry JuiceThe proanthocyanidins found in cranberries help prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the bladder, thus warding off urinary tract infections (UTIs). New research also suggests that cranberries may promote cardiovascular health.8. Foods Rich in FolateHealthy foods for women like asparagus, oranges, fortified cereals and beans which are rich in folate is important during pregnancy for ensuring proper neural tube development of the foetus and has been shown to be important for heart health. Make sure to get an RDA of 400 micrograms (mcg) per day.9. Whole GrainsWhole grains are high in fiber and therefore help wave off digestive problems that are so common inwomen. Try to incorporate more whole grains like brown rice, bran flakes, whole-grain breads, into your diet.10. Soy ProteinSoy protein is found in products like tofu and soymilk to soy nut butter and cereal. Soy protein is heart healthy and (helps lower "bad" cholesterol levels), is rich in phytonutrients and also consider as one of the most healthy food for women. Aim for up to 25 grams of soy protein per day.