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Before you hit the treadmill

Most gyms require their patrons to submit a medical fitness certificate before signing up, but how seriously do we take this issue? Here’s what you need to keep in mind before joining the gym.

health and fitness Updated: Jun 11, 2013 14:38 IST
Petrina D’Souza
Petrina D’Souza
Hindustan Times

On May 31 this year, TV actor Abir Goswami, who has appeared on shows like Kkusum and Pyaar Ka Dard Hai…, passed away while working out at his gym, reportedly due to a sudden cardiac arrest. The 37-year-old actor, reportedly had rheumatic heart disease and had not informed the gym about his condition. Most gyms, of course, require their patrons to submit a medical fitness certificate before signing up, but how seriously do we take this issue?

We get the experts to tell you all the things one needs to do before hitting the gym:

Get a thorough check-up
Before joining the gym, there are a few things you need to do. “You’re asked to fill the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PARQ) that asks relevant information about a person’s physical state and lifestyle,” says Althea Shah, fitness expert at Gold’s Gym. Tests are done to check factors like blood pressure, cholesterol, hypertension, obesity and deduce the person’s fitness level.

And if more than three risk factors are present, he/she needs clearance from a doctor before starting any physical activity. “For any person above the age of 40, it is mandatory to undergo a medical check-up, as there might be a disease or a disorder,” explains fitness guru Mickey Mehta. “Ideally, a medical examination by a practicing physician is a must before working out,” says Dr Atul Peters, director of Institute of Bariatric, Metabolic and Minimal Access Surgery, Fortis Hospital.

This applies for those under medication as well. “It is important to understand the working of the medication. These factors come into consideration during exercise,” says Shah.

Know what harms and what heals
Once you join the gym, the trainer will plan your fitness program keeping in mind your fitness level and goals. “Ask for a few sessions with the trainer to understand your routine,” says Shah, adding, “Ask the trainer everything you want to know about the gym — how to use the equipment properly, the correct way to lift weights, or about nutrition. This will help avoid injury in the long run.”

“People suffering from health issues need to be extra careful,” says Dr Peters. “Patients with asthma may precipitate due to an acute attack during vigorous training. These patients may also be sensitive to room fresheners used in the gym and deodorants used by others. They should always carry inhalers,” he says. He adds, “Middle-aged and older people should be careful about their movements, as osteoporosis may have weakened their bones.”

Stop when it hurts
A certain amount of discomfort during exercise is normal, but never ignore aches and pains that persist for longer than a day. “Muscles can get damaged due to bad posture, or if an excercise is done incorrectly. You should immediately stop your workout and get it treated,” says Shah. If coming out of a sickness, start exercising only after the doctor has given you a clearance.

Let them know
*Inform the gym or trainer about the kind of diet or lifestyle you follow. “A diet that does not provide the body with adequate carbohydrates, proteins, nutrients, vitamins and
minerals takes a toll on one’s overall health,” says Mehta.
*Follow what your doctors tell you. “State the doctor’s instructions on any particular exercise that should be avoided, or an action that can aggravate problems,”
says Shah.

*Remember to eat at least 60-90 minutes before exercise to give your body some time to digest and make the nutrients available during a workout.
*After exercise, try to eat within 30 to 45 minutes after your workout.
*An energy bar is a convenient snack before and after the workout.
*Always do a good warm up before starting your workouts.
*Hydrate before and also during exercise.
*Avoid taking sugar syrups or juices immediately after a workout.

Eat right
*Certain foods should be eaten before, and some after the workout. “Exercising on an empty stomach will make you feel drained out,” explains Shah.
*“A fruit or a few dry fruits are recommended as a pre-workout meal and a wholesome meal after your workout must include complex carbs like whole grains, vegetables and sprouts, rich in nutrients and fibre,” says Mehta.
*Take protein supplements only after consulting a nutritionist. “Protein supplements will help only if adequate protein is not a part of one’s daily diet or if a person is engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity for four to six days a week,” says Mehta. Dr Peters adds, “Don’t take them as a replacement of your normal meals.”

First Published: Jun 11, 2013 12:42 IST