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Monitor your heart rate

Medical tests are not a necessity before you start an exercise regime. Rather, they are required only when something is wrong, writes Heath Matthews.

health and fitness Updated: Nov 14, 2009 15:21 IST
Heath Matthews

I have become an avid reader of Rush on Saturdays. I have a question: I am 45 years old and would like to know what medical tests are required before I start jogging/running, rope jumping, and cardio-related exercises. Thank you.
Susanta Chakraborty

Medical tests are not a necessity before you start an exercise regime. Rather, they are required only when something is wrong. Having said that, one test worth doing before you begin is an exercise stress test to see what shape your heart is in. Often, I suggest to my clients who are starting out to use a heart rate monitor. This little device monitors how much strain your heart is under during your training session.

In the initial stages (say the first six weeks of training) I would suggest not letting your heart rate go above the upper limit for your age. One simple way to calculate that would be to subtract your age from 220. So in your case, your upper limit would be 220 - 45, which is 175. Your heart rate will be displayed on the watch/monitor as you run and if it goes above 175, it will beep to tell you to take it easy. I hope this helps. The trick is to start cautiously and then increase your effort gradually and consistently as your fitness improves.

I read your column titled Sprain in the Wrist (dated November 7, 2009). I have been facing this problem for the past six months. While playing cricket, I dislocated the bone leading up to the small finger. My doctor asked me to apply ice initially, and an X-ray showed that there was no fracture.

He gave me pain medication for two weeks but the pain remained. I sat for my exams despite the fact that I couldn’t even hold the pen! I applied ice regularly and after 3-4 months, the pain vanished.

Two days ago, however, I happened to hit my finger on the iron rod inside a train compartment, and the pain resurfaced. I want to strengthen my hand and wrist, as mentioned in your column, but because of the injury, I am unable to do so. How can I get rid of the pain? Please help!
Kaustubh Pawar

The recent pain is probably because of a bone bruise. It sounds like your finger was dislocated for a few days. This would have undoubtedly caused pressure on the ends of the bones that make up the joint that was dislocated.

Resume your icing programme thrice daily. Buddy strap it to the finger next to it. Any doctor will show you how to do that. When your pain is gone, start squeezing a squash ball to increase your grip strength. This helps to strengthen all the muscles of your hands and returns proper tone in the muscles. This will make your hand more resilient to little knocks and bumps.

The queries were answered by Heath Matthews, physiotherapist, Mittal Champions Trust.