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Health News of Thursday, 19 January 2017

Source: Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel

Make safety a priority when you exercise

The experience gained in my years of promoting wellness can be summarised in two “laws”


I am tempted to say that it is difficult to go wrong when one follows these principles. Over zealousness, poor regulations and the phenomenon of “the toos” (too quickly, too soon, too heavy, too long etc.) cause many of us to either injure ourselves while exercising or end up in a situation where we are worse off than when we started. It is criminal when ones fitness level rather deteriorates because of an exercise programme or a new “healthy lifestyle”.

The “wonder-pill” is noted for miracles but remember the “dosing” differs from one individual to another. While someone’s fitness level may make it possible to engage in high intensity interval training (HIIT) another may have to start off with 2-minute sessions of snail-pace walking. It’s all a matter of time; if you persist you will improve on your fitness. Simply put MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS but don’t settle into a rut. Learn to breathe right, ensure you use the right posture for an exercise, warm up at the beginning to get your body ready and ensure you cool down at the end to bring your heat rate to near normal as possible. Ensure your environment or surroundings are safe and wear the appropriate attire or clothing.

Some of the commonly encountered exercise challenges are:

• Increasing the intensity and/or duration of our exercise programme faster than our fitness level can cope with;

• Selecting exercise programmes without considering medical conditions that we may have (for example, an asthmatic exercising vigorously in a closed environment with many sweaty people);

• Performing exercises that are contraindicated for us (that one should avoid), such as head circles or head-rolling exercises, double-leg raises, sit-ups when our blood pressure is ridiculously high and many others.

Many of these contraindicated exercises may not harm you instantly, but they will have a cumulative effect. If you persist in performing them, you will eventually pay a price for this. Even the right exercise done in the wrong way over a long period may be harmful.

Dear reader, before you perform any exercise, ALWAYS ASK YOURSELF these questions:

1. What benefit do I get from this exercise?
If you cannot find any benefit, the exercise may not be worth your while.

2. Are there any risks to this exercise?
Risks may not always be obvious. Whenever in doubt, seek professional help.
3. How do I feel during and after this exercise?
If you feel dizzy or nauseous; or if you experience headaches or have any form of moderate to severe pain during or after an exercise, STOP and seek help. ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!!! “NO PAIN NO GAIN IS INSANE”
4. Can I shorten my workout time by combining certain exercises?
Many of us can barely spare fifteen minutes a day for exercising. It may be worthwhile adopting exercises that work out several muscle groups at a time.
5. Can I receive the same benefits doing a safer exercise?
A number of us fantasize over a six-pack (great looking abdominal muscles), but very few ever get there. You often find the likes of elderly people, people with uncontrolled high blood pressure, etc., performing ridiculous exercises to firm their abdominal muscles. Find out what is appropriate for you.

The bottom-line is to maintain or improve yourself with exercising. Don’t get over-ambitious and worsen your current state.

Yes! A lack of adequate physical activity will make you worse off over time, but you will be rewarded when you do the RIGHT exercises the RIGHT way.
The next time you exercise, STOP! THINK! MAKE SURE IT’S SAFE.



Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Health Essentials Ltd/ St Andrews Clinic

*Dr Essel is a medical doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.

Thought for the week –“If you have trouble managing your time, exercising is your best remedy. A fit person has more energy and is more attentive so you can do MORE in LESS time.”

Join me and the La-Palm Healthy Lifestyle Team on Saturday 28th January 2017 and the last Saturday of every month at 6am prompt to exercise and share ideas on staying healthy.

1. Fitness Therapy by Dr. Karl Knopf, EdD