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Pull yourself up to a different high

Climbing works out various muscle groups in your arms and legs at the same time, building stamina, improving grip and coordination. Dhamini Ratnam tells more.

health and fitness Updated: Aug 31, 2009 18:56 IST
Dhamini Ratnam

Climbing is definitely an adventure, but it’s also a fun way to stay fit. Sonu Kumar Sherval, 24, an instructor at Gold’s Gym, Mumbai, which offers climbing as a workout, elaborates: “Climbing helps you work out various muscle groups in your arms and legs simultaneously, building stamina, improving grip and coordination. “The best part is, anyone can do it,” he adds. The gym offers a 20-ft wall to its members.

If climbing a stationary wall isn’t challenging enough for you, you can even try out the new Cliff, created by six men in their 20s, who wanted to replicate their rock climbing experience indoors. Vinay Savla and five brothers — Akash, Deepak, Neel, Rajesh and Sandeep Karani — developed a moving ‘wall’, complete with different kinds of foot and hand holds like the jug-hold, the pinch and the crimp. The planks move as if on a conveyer belt, and the holds are screwed on at different points.

You can change the angle of the wall, dipping it to 135 degrees to get a taste of scaling an overhang, and increase the speed to up to 50 feet per minute, increasing the level of difficulty.

Dr K Sen Ray, a reader at the department of Sports Science and Nutrition in SNDT Women’s University, tested the Cliff for its medical and health benefits and found a direct correlation between the angle of the climb and the muscle group exercised. A lower incline exercised the back and calves, while the higher ones exercise the shoulders and fingers. Climbing also helps improve heart and lung function, grip strength and concentration.

If you’re wondering whether climbing an artificial wall is as challenging as the real thing, listen to this. Ram Vengulakar, 28, an instructor at the 43-foot Arun Samant Climbing Wall in Goregaon, Mumbai, says, “Climbing a wall requires as much concentration and mental alertness as climbing a natural rock-face.”

But only foreigners with light skin get burned?

Indians are lucky, as our darker skin with its higher melanin protects us from the most severe burns. Despite that, too much of UV rays, especially between 11 am to 3 pm, can spell trouble. This is especially relevant when you’re off getting your dose of adrenaline on a high altitude trek, or sailing the sea. Who’s got time for petty things like sunscreen, eh?

Know this
Sunscreen isn’t just for avoiding a tan. Tanning occurs when more melanin has been produced due to sun exposure and, in fact, it helps protect your skin. But with too much sun, skin is prone to burn, especially on the hands, legs, cheeks, nose and forehead.

How do you know you’re burnt?
A tan is just your skin going a shade — or several — darker. With a burn, your skin feels warm to touch, goes red in patches, and starts hurting. In some cases, especially in children, there could be swelling or blisters.

Not just skin deep
The symptoms aren’t just external. Sunburn is accompanied by dehydration and can also cause fever, vomiting or nausea. Signs of sunburn usually appear within a few hours after sun exposure. But it may take a day or more to know the full extent and severity of the burn.

What to do if you’re burnt?
If the burn is minor, you can look after it at home. If it is more serious, head to a doctor.
a) Immediately after the burn
You’ll feel like there’s heat coming off your body in waves. Use cold water compresses on the area to cool it down. Get hold of some fresh aloe vera and put it in the fridge. Apply the gel on the burnt areas to ease the burning feeling. You can also use a paste of oatmeal with milk or water; this acts as a mild exfoliant and reduces the burning sensation. Stay out of the sun for the next couple of days. Also drink a lot of water to rehydrate internally as well.

b) When skin starts peeling
This will happen 4-8 days after the burn. Avoid using too much soap, since it dries your skin further. Keep applying a mild moisturiser. Consider a visit to a dermatologist, as treatment can depend on skin type and extent of damage.

Text: Dr Deepika Shetty, dermatologist at Dr HL Hiranandani Hospital, Powai; www.MayoClinic.com

Sounds like trouble? Prevent it from Happening
If you’re exposed to the sun for a long time, you’re liable to burn. But you can protect your skin in different ways.
* Wear full sleeves clothes and loose pants.
* Cover your head with a scarf or, even better, a wide rimmed hat.
* Use sunglasses or an umbrella, splash water to hydrate your skin.
* Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before exposure to sunlight. While SPF is important, it’s equally crucial to get a broad-spectrum sunscreen (that will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays) that is water and sweat resistant and will stick to your skin. Even more important is that you re-apply every 2-3 hours. For dry skin, get sunscreen with
moisturiser and for oily skin, use water-based ones.
* Keep drinking water at regular intervals.
Remember, stay safe and avoid getting burnt very often because it makes your skin more vulnerable to skin cancer.

For skydiving, fun or serious, look abroad

Off Track: Yana Bey

I’m really excited after reading about the seats for civilians in the Directorate of Air Force Adventure Skydiving Course in your column. Please give more details and tell me how to apply.
Anjanjot Singh
Kindly provide all details about the Air Force Adventure Sky Diving course. What are the criteria and fees?
Suman Kanwar

The Directorate of Air Force Adventure has stopped offering seats to civilians at the moment because of the slowdown. In any case, those of you who want to take up skydiving seriously would eventually have to go abroad. There are four licensing levels — A, B, C and D. Once you have the A licence, you can skydive anywhere in the world. The Directorate’s course did not qualify trainees for an A licence, so it is best to look for an opportunity to learn abroad.

You can pick from the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. The US is most affordable; Skydive Arizona (www.skydiveaz. com) is reputed to be among the best skydiving schools in the world.

Those of you who simply want a taste of skydiving can opt for a tandem jump. There is currently no one in India who offers tandem jumps for civilians but it is a very popular tourist activity in the countries listed above. Some people believe that, if you intend to learn skydiving, you should avoid doing a tandem because it will make your first solo jump more difficult, but this is a myth. A good skydiving school will eliminate your fear with thorough ground lessons, wind tunnel training and accelerated free fall jumps before you do your first solo jump.

And, if you really don’t want to jump out of a plane but want to know what free fall feels like, you can do simulated skydiving. You put on a jumpsuit, goggles, helmet and ear plugs and enter a vertical wind tunnel where a machine blasts wind at up to 200 kph and you soar on it like a ball on a jet of water. The body fly techniques are the same as in real skydiving. Asia’s only skydiving simulator is at Genting Highlands, Malaysia. Contact Skyventure at +60-3-61059011 (email: muhammad.nasirahmad@genting.com).

You can also read what is considered the best book on the sport — Parachuting: The Skydiver’s Handbook by Dan Poynter and Mike Turoff, published by Para Publishing, Santa Barbara, California.