Enjoy lifestyle exercises | Sunday Observer

Enjoy lifestyle exercises

9 July, 2023
Climbing steps can be fun
Climbing steps can be fun

Ageing is a natural process and we cannot do anything about it. However, some of us remain sluggish and unhappy sitting around doing nothing. There are people who go to bed at 7 p.m. and get up at 10 a.m. They are too lazy to exercise their bodies. They are probably waiting for a miracle pill that would make them happy and strong. As there is no sign of such a pill those who desire to live long and enjoy life have to engage in some form of exercise.

Until recent times we thought that exercises can be done in a gym or park. Those who are anxious to keep their bodies in good form would either run to the nearest gym or take part in a game of cricket or volleyball.

The Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in the United States conducted a study a few years ago to test two different approaches to exercise. The institute encouraged a group of volunteers to receive a free membership at its modern gym. They were asked to do workouts for 20 to 60 minutes three to five times a week.

Another group of volunteers had no access to the gym or high-tech equipment. However, they were motivated to do 30 minutes moderate activities every day. The activities included brisk walking, climbing stairs, swimming and cycling. Those who belonged to the gym group were convinced that they were doing the right thing to get into shape.

In fact, it is a widely held conviction. At schools and other institutes, experts advise people to do workouts regularly from 15 minutes to one hour. The workouts should be vigorous enough to get your heart rate to its maximum.

An alternative

When the Centre for Disease Control and the American College of Sports Medicine offered an alternative, people began to treat it seriously. The scientists said any form of exercise including pulling out weeds from a field or playing with children could be equally beneficial to maintain good health. They had to do such activities for 30 minutes a day, not necessarily continuously.

While living in a remote village off Moneragala, I saw how villagers spent the day. There were no gyms or public parks for them to engage in sports activities. Men worked in their fields from dawn to dusk and women did all the household chores. As there was no electrical equipment, they had to pound paddy and other grains in a mortar. Even pregnant women used the pestle to pound paddy. They hand-washed their clothes and split firewood to cook their meals. Strangely, they had no physical ailments.

In the asphalt jungle, people lead a different way of life. In the city almost everything is readymade. Cooking has been made easy with LP gas and electricity. They do not have to split firewood. They do not hand-wash their clothes as there are laundries in the city and washing machines at home.

City dwellers do not walk long distances as there are taxis all over the place. As there is hardly anything to do physically at home, they have to go to the gym to exercise their bodies. With all the exercises at the gym and playing various games at the public park, most city dwellers have serious health issues such as diabetes, hypertension, heart ailments and arthritis. They are compelled to consult medical specialists for such diseases. Due to overeating, many women in the city have no trim waistlines.

Gym regime

Urban living has compelled us to change our lifestyle. In 1994, Andrea Dunn at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research decided to weigh lifestyle activity programs against sweat-and-strain workouts. She recruited volunteers and asked half of them to follow the old guidelines and the other half to try the new recommendations. Tests were done to measure their blood pressure, cholesterol levels and fat-to-muscle ratio. Two years later, she and that volunteers in the first lifestyle group were doing well just like the gym regime.

If you are interested in the lifestyle method, there are a few points to remember. Although walking is a good form of exercise, you have to walk briskly to gain any benefit. Even those who do moderate exercises have to burn at least four and a half calories a minute.

The goal should be an extra 150 to 200 calories a day. Swimming, brisk walking, jogging and cycling can burn many calories. Walking up and down stairs is another way to get rid of unwanted calories.

For many of us, getting off the bed is a real battle in the morning. If you wish to maintain good health, get up early in the morning and do some household activities without using electrical equipment.

By doing so, you will improve your health and save much-needed money. In fact, this is one way to beat the spiralling cost of electricity. You can check whether you are getting any positive results when you go for a medical check-up.

Get rid of inertia

Anyway, there is no need to give up a sweaty and heart-pumping session on a treadmill. Whenever you find it difficult to do a workout, fall back on lifestyle exercises. Go for a brief walk after lunch. If possible run up and down the stairs. It is the best way to get rid of inertia. I have met several octogenarians and nonagenarians who have never been to a gym. A 91-year-old ex-serviceman tells me he still walks and drives his car. The ultimate lesson they teach us is that we have to make a lifelong habit of remaining active.

To get hooked on an active lifestyle, you need loads of enthusiasm. Without it nothing can be achieved. Enthusiastic people can turn a boring job into an adventure, extra work into opportunity and strangers into friends. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” It is the inner voice that whispers, “I can do it!” when others shout, “No, you can’t!”

Enthusiastic people have a youthful air, whatever their age. At 90, Pablo Casals started his day by playing Bach. It is said that as the music flowed through his fingers, his stooped shoulders would straighten.

To remain happy, you have to rediscover the enthusiasm of your childhood. Physically and mentally healthy people usually enjoy life. They love what they do regardless of monetary gains or fame. Enthusiasm is the love of life that puts a sparkle in your eyes and flattens the wrinkles from your soul.

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