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Mixing work(out) and games will make it a fun-filled social activity

Most gymkhanas and many clubs offer the pay-and-play option. This means no expensive memberships and a highly fun way to exercise.

india Updated: Sep 08, 2011 12:48 IST

If you never got around to joining your neighbourhood gym — or you’re afraid you’ll sign up and rarely go — you can still pack your gym bag on days when you feel like exercising and heading to the local sports complex to become a member for the day.

It’s an inexpensive and highly fun way to exercise.

Most gymkhanas and many clubs offer the pay-and-play option. This means no expensive memberships, and because you only have the court or pool for a limited time, you are likely to use your time well, spending less time chatting and more time playing or swimming, thus getting a solid workout.

Another benefit to this kind of exercise is the social element. You are engaged in a fun activity interacting with other people instead of being confined to a treadmill or other anti-social pieces of exercise equipment. This has huge benefits for your stress levels as healthy competition and adrenaline rushes are a good way to break the monotonous stress of city life.

If all you can spare is one hour two or three times a week, then community based sports complexes are a great bet. If you add 10 minutes of stretching before and after the game, you will double the health benefits as you will stretch out many of those tight, achy body parts like your back, hips, neck and shoulders. This will also mean less post-match muscle soreness and a greater feeling of flexibility and mobility.

You could go one step further and involve yourself in some home-based yoga, pilates and spot-jogging on another two or three days a week. If you play a game like badminton twice a week, do two lights runs for between 30 and 45 minutes and one or two yoga classes, you are sure to feel significantly healthier and more energised than before.

If running is not your favourite way to exercise, or if your knees, hips or back are not up to it, try swimming.

There are a number of community pools across the city that you could use.
Swimming is a great form of low-impact exercise and will stress your body less while still giving you a great workout.

Swimming will also expose your skin to sunlight, which helps produce Vitamin D. If you are chronically low in Vitamin D3, try 45 minutes in a pool three times a week to ensure you get your full daily requirement of sunlight.

The stress levels in Mumbai are amongst the highest I have ever experienced. A great way to counter that stress is through exercise.

By adding a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables to your diet and making sure you drink at least six glasses of water a day, you will go a long way towards living a more healthy life.

So if expensive health clubs and gym memberships are not for you, just pick up a racket and head out to the courts for some good old-fashioned fun with your friends or family, over a game of baddy or squash.

It could be the start of a whole new level of health and fitness.

(The author is head physiotherapist with the Centre for Sports Medicine at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital)