Till they turn 40, most people take their bodies for granted, working long hours, sitting in incorrect postures, staying hungry for long periods or overeating. They also go on drinking binges on weekends and refuse to get adequate sleep.
Around 40, the body shows its first signs of protest. This can come in the form of sudden back pain. Or it may rear its head in the form of cervical pain or a shooting pain in the leg. For some people, energy levels suddenly plummet. Others might experience bouts of exhaustion. Other indicators include accumulation of fat around the middle, greying of hair and the softening of muscles. In women, it could manifest itself as dry skin and hair, slackening of muscles and weight gain. Internally, blood pressure levels begin to rise for many people, along with an onset of diabetes and symptoms of a weak liver and lipid readings that go awry.
At one end of the spectrum, we see these changes occurring, while at the other, we have men and women who seem to look better as they grow older. So what is the biological reality? The truth is that around the 40s, while the mind has grown richer and the wallet fatter, the body is asking for attention. Making this period the foundation of good health requires adopting a holistic approach towards the mind and body that includes exercise, good nutrition and stress management.
Work it out!
Exercise is the first important change in the health management process. As one reaches middle age, our bodies begin to lose muscle tone, owing to misuse or too little use. The spine, for instance, is at risk of disc problems. Arm muscles become softer and legs begin to lose their strength. To get the best from a workout, pick exercises that involve all muscle groups in rotation. Focus on strength and flexibility training and incorporate cardio and weight training.
This is any exercise which makes the heart rate go up – brisk walking, running, dancing, aerobics, vigorous swimming or playing a sport that requires agility. If one has never exercised before, then walking is the best way to begin. The goal should be to begin with 20 minutes and gradually take it to 1 hour at least 5 times a week.
For people who have given up on working out, the goal should be to begin what one enjoyed earlier and check at what level the body is comfortable. This level has to be taken to a higher level of pace or timing every two weeks.
(To be continued)
From HT Brunch, June 16
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