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The Importance Of all-round exercise

June 2nd, 2015

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The Importance Of all-round exercise

‘Doctor! Give me medicine! I can’t do this any more, all this exercise. My whole body hurts. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have run for the past three days. This time I am just going to take medicine, one of my female patients complained, with her plump body carrying with her high cholesterol levels.

She said all of this before I could open my mouth, because she knew the minute I saw her weight, blood pressure and cholesterol level, I would say something about them, so she decided to open fire first.

Usually, those who are overweight, even if they do not have heart disease, have high risks getting artery disease. For this patient, I insisted she had to watch her diet and exercise, because keeping her weight in a healthy range would significantly fight off a lot of diseases, as well as heart problems.

This time she insisted right back that she would not exercise any more, and that she had had enough with exercise, but she didn’t mention whether she’d had enough with restricting her food. I could only smile at her because I’d seen it all before. I also remembered feeling the exact same way when I’d started exercising 10 years before.

 

Nothing in this world is free, and that includes good health. You have to work hard to make yourself healthy, and sometimes it is no sweet ride. The most important part is to realise the importance of staying healthy. If you exercise, at the very least, you get a “natural high” afterwards. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which give you a boost and make you feel relaxed.

However, for endorphins to be released, you have to exercise to a certain level (at least half of your full capacity) and for a certain period of time.

Three to five minutes of heavy exercise following 20 to 30 minutes of moderate level of exercise does the trick, and the endorphins stay for 15-60 minutes after the workout.

Light exercise such as walking doesn’t really trigger endorphins, so if you start by exercising lightly, you will not experience a high. When you gradually challenge yourself to tougher routines, you will get there.

The right way to exercise is to start lightly and work your way up. If you have a heart condition, please consult your doctor. The patient above started by running, and of course she got sore muscles instead of endorphins.

She therefore felt discouraged and wanted to quit the fight.

Exercise also has other benefits such as keeping your heart strong, minimising diabetes, lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol level, making your bones stronger and can even prevent certain types of cancer.

However, these benefits take quite a long time of exercise.

Another benefit of exercise is stronger muscles, which can be achieved by lifting weights, even lightly. Don’t forget that there are three types of exercise. Aerobic exercise trains your heart and lungs, while stretching relaxes your muscles and joints, and resistance training strengthens your muscles which also helps older people walk more securely.

Sticking to an exercise routine that incorporates all three components is therefore very important.

Naturally, when we lift something heavy, we take a deep breath and hold it. When that activity is done, we exhale. This is not the right way to do it, particularly if you have heart disease. It should actually be the opposite.

I told this to one of my octogenarian patients who ran regularly for half an hour every day but never did any resistance exercise and stretching. He was crazy about exercising, so he promised that he would start doing all three aspects.

He came back to see me two months later and told me that he loved stretching before and after running because it made his muscles less painful afterwards. The resistance exercises and weight lifting were also good because he could walk more stably. However, breathing out when lifting a dumbbell was very difficult initially _ that was when he realised he had been breathing wrong for 80 years

Prof Nithi Mahanonda is consultant cardiologist and interventionist, Perfect Heart Institute.

 

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