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india Updated: Jul 10, 2009 17:19 IST

The 29-year-old Heath Matthews is a South African trainer and physiotherapist who has been pivotal in bringing world-class training and rehabilitation to a host of prominent Indian sportspersons. Mahesh Bhupathi gave him his Doha Asian Games doubles gold for helping him come through the event despite a debilitating back injury. Mathews has worked with India’s lone Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra and pioneering woman tennis player Sania Mirza. He is also the force behind badminton ace Saina Nehwal’s physical fitness and is a crucial cog in the emergence of Indian boxing as a force to reckon with.

If you’re a first time exercise enthusiast or someone who’s looking to get back into a structured programme, this is a must-read. It is the first in a series that will discuss principles of health and fitness that must be a part of your life.
A progressive world has advantages and disadvantages. Conveniences like PCs, cars, phones, the Internet and fast food mean we need less effort to get things done. Unfortu-nately, they also make us less active and more sedentary.

Superficially, this lifestyle may seem very attractive, but many of us fail to see the fine print: A sedentary lifestyle can compromise your health. It is no coincidence that its growth is linked to an increase in negative health indicators like obesity, high blood pressure, increased cholesterol and insulin resistance.

So how do we counter these negative effects while still enjoying the finer things in life? The solution is simple — exercise and healthy eating habits. This column will guide you through the process of introducing healthy habits into your routine.

Now that you’re ready to take a step towards a healthier you, learn how.

Define your goals
It’s important to figure out what end you’re training towards. I would advise against making “getting fit” or “losing weight” your goals. Define a more specific goal like “I want to lose 10 kg and weigh 70 kg again” or “I want to run the Mumbai marathon next year”. These are better as they let you objectively measure your progress.

Plan your time
Lack of time is the most common excuse for not exercising. Once you’ve set your goal, plan your training programme and stick to it. Don’t be over ambitious; set realistic goals and times.

If you know you cannot get up before 8 am, don’t fix a 5 am training time. Also, a training programme rarely fits perfectly with your schedule, so make time for it. Review and remodel your schedule every two weeks.

Be honest
Your age, weight and health need to be considered before going all out in an attempt to regain the physique and figure your once possessed.

Meet your doctor for a general check-up, so he can assess vital indicators like your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood glucose levels and resting heart rate.

He will also give you valuable advice regarding your specific medical conditions and how tailormake a training programme to suit them.

Matthews is a physio with the Mittal Champion’s Trust