Health News of Friday, 8 February 2013
Source: Kojo Cobba Essel
Saint Valentine’s Day is arguably one of the most “celebrated’ days worldwide. It is a day that many people associate with romantic love and I remember in the 1980s teenagers in boarding houses suddenly began engaging in excesses. Two decades later, the whole country was plunged into “over-advertising” of Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately we had misplaced our priorities; it may have been a great opportunity to promote heart health on this day. Four years ago I organized a “workout date with your valentine” in the gym and the patronage was poor. I have not given up and hope to give it another shot but this time I will send out invitations. What is the point of all the gifts and talk if you have a functionally weak heart on this day? Your racing heart could have been caused by cupid’s arrow but it may also be a sign of an ailing or troubled heart.
I believe that walking and jogging are great exercises but not everyone is cut out to walk. Unfavourable weather conditions may also disrupt your outdoor exercise. Even if you walk everyday, variety is extremely important and it keeps the rut away. I have selected a few heart-healthy equipment and discussed ways to maximize your benefits from them.
1. Elliptical Trainer
a. I am biased when it comes to the elliptical trainer. It is probably the best equipment to buy if your budget allows only one piece. In one breath you can exercise your heart, upper and lower bodies and even your midsection. In its basic form it will allow you to adjust intensities (speed) and resistance, while some offer an incline.
b. Posture or form is always crucial; stand straight and always look forward. Some people are fascinated with the pedals and keep staring at their feet, this can be harmful. Keep your feet flat on the pedals at all times.
a. This is a favourite of most exercises. In a gym setting most clients rush for this and may strangle the management if there are no working treadmills. It also offers something close to a full body workout but leaves out the front of the thigh. You may walk or run on this equipment, set an incline/slope to increase the work you do or switch to a programme that automatically regulates your speed and the slope depending on your goals.
b. Do not crouch over the controls, keep your head and chest up. Your shoulders back and pump your arms back and forth.
c. Avoid this equipment if you have a knee problem since running on a treadmill will worsen your knee condition.
a. This is relatively new on the market. It attempts to combine the benefits of a treadmill, stairclimber and an elliptical. Treadmill veterans may not find it as exciting though.
b. For best outcome, keep your head and chest up and your back straight and remember to avoid leaning forward or supporting yourself on the bars.
4. Stationary Bike
a. The bike has been around for a long time. But it limits your workout to just your lower body and heart. Your upper body is virtually on a holiday so you tend to expend fewer calories than its competitors for the same duration. So if you want to lose weight fast, you should probably not be spending too much time on a stationary bike.
b. It comes with a plus though –unlike the treadmill, it works the front of the thigh (quadriceps). So treadmill fanatics should spend some time on a bike. It also spares your knees from high impact. Since it is not a load-bearing exercise, obese people or those with lower back challenges and osteoarthritis of the knee benefit from a bike.
c. For the best form, keep your back straight, head lifted, and look forward over the handlebars; this keeps your neck in line with your spine so you can breathe easier for more energy.
a. Remember how out of breath you were the last time you climbed two flights of stairs? Well a stairclimber helps you build quality muscle as you burn calories. Its name summarises how it functions, which is to mimic actual stair climbing.
b. Ensure that your entire foot is on each step to avoid discomfort in your feet. Keep your head and chest up and your back straight. Those in love with their training shoes kindly keep your eyes off your feet. Supporting yourself on the railings takes away part of your body weight so you tend to burn fewer calories. If you have to spend time on this machine then better maximize your benefits by avoiding the railings.
6. Rowing Machine
a. Another great equipment. You get a full-body workout from a nonimpact machine which is much easier on the knees than most of its competitors.
b. Unfortunately if you have lower back problems or have challenges with coordination it may not be right for you.
Remember that you will need to start slowly whenever you are using any of these equipment, do not get hooked on only one of them since you may end up improving some parts of your body at the expense of others. We have promoted chocolates during Valentine’s Day and it may be time to promote Heart Health on this day when people may either experience a pounding heart purely from love but often times it may be anxiety from an empty wallet or from a heart disease. I may not be able to help you with the first two but certainly the appropriate exercises done regularly under supervision will improve your heart health.
AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI)
Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Moms’ Health Club
*Dr Essel is a medical doctor and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.
Thought for the week – Losing Weight can prove lifesaving, especially for people with diabetes, high blood pressure and heart diseases.
1. The Men’s Health Gym Bible.
2. Health by Choice Not Chance – Aileen Ludington & Hans Diehl.