Fit and fine by Kamal Singh CSCS: Move over high intensity workout
“Move well and move often” - this quote is from a famous physical therapist, Gray Cook. It is particularly relevant in today’s unprecedented era of lock downs, work from home culture and increased sedentary living. Till about a year ago, people would at least be walking from their homes to their personal mode of transport – car or motor bike, to get to their place of work. The pandemic put an end to even that limited physical activity. Since we are not trees and are made to move, it should not come as a surprise that people are experiencing lot more musculoskeletal pain and mental health issues.
People stuck in their homes, without access to gyms and parks are turning to apps to exercise and workout. In my opinion, people are unknowingly choosing the inappropriate exercise programmes – especially High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT is not suitable for a beginner and should be done under the watchful eye of an experienced trainer, who can spot technique breakdown with increased fatigue. Most people think that they can combat the adverse effects of eight-10 hours of very low activity with 45 minutes of very intense exercise. This is a recipe for disaster as the exerciser could get injured or develop other health problems. Please do not get me wrong, in times like these being physically active is very important but doing HIIT type of workouts three to five days may not be the right way.
The solution – Low-intensity activity through the day
It is a good idea to frequently dose low-intensity activity through out the day. Rather than sitting at the computer hour after hour, do a few stretches and some strength exercise like a few push-ups or air squats every one-two hours. Go for a 15-minute walk after having your lunch. This is an easy stroll not a fast-paced walk. The idea is to move, change from one posture to another. Here are some options:
•Every one-two hours, stretch. Stand up straight, interlace your fingers and try to reach for the ceiling. The idea is become 7 feet tall. Hold this stretch for 10-15 seconds.
•Stretch your shoulders by bringing your arm across the body, while pulling with the other arm. Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds.
•Stretch the back by putting your hands on your glutes and push forward. Hold for 10-15 seconds.
•Do five push ups. If you are too weak to do regular pushups on the floor, do them against the wall.
•Do five air squats.
•After having lunch go for a 15-minute easy-paced walk. You could do this inside your apartment. You can do another 10-minute walk later in the day. Just get moving.
As you can see, such low-intensity exercise does not need anything extra to be done for recovery. Exercise and movement become a part of the working day. Such a programme can be followed by anyone, regardless of their medical history. Exercising like this has compliance built into it. No fuss, no muss and lots of benefits.
This dosing of low-intensity exercise keeps the joints moving and healthy. The cardio vascular system also gets stimulated by the frequent bouts of exercise. Endorphins, which are the feel good hormones, get released after a bout of exercise. Thus, mental health will also improve if a person incorporates the above programme in their daily routine. If you so desire, a couple of days of HIIT can be added to this programme easily and have the benefit of the both the worlds.
Now go and do it….
From HT Brunch, January 24, 2021
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