Health News of Friday, 12 October 2012

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In Your Quest For Good Health Ensure “Safety First”

Living a healthy lifestyle is simple but certainly not easy. It is simple because there are a set of rules to follow such as increasing your physical activity and eating a healthy diet but it is not easy because we need to be disciplined; make time to exercise, eat right, and avoid many eye pleasing and tongue-tempting dishes. Then the challenge of knowing the right things to do especially when we have a medical condition is always present.
The kitchen for instance that is the seat of preparing healthy meals (or otherwise) may have danger lurking in the shadows. In addition to the oils, red meat etc that may offer challenges, it can also be a haven for bacteria. The average kitchen is probably one of the “scariest” rooms in a home or restaurant. The countertops harbor a lot of bacteria from preparing meals and not cleaning adequately. The sponges for doing dishes reign supreme when a bacteria (germ) count is taken. Take appropriate measures to disinfect or clean your kitchen thoroughly. This will reduce the incidence of diarrhoeal diseases, which will slow down your fitness quest.
Exercising, which is certainly better than a lack of physical activity may also hold challenges if we do not take appropriate measures. We need to watch the following:
• 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 e.g. an asthmatic exercising vigorously in a closed environment with many sweaty people.
• Performing exercises that are contraindicated (should avoid) for us e.g. head circles or head-rolling exercises.
• Many people who start a good wellness programme get careless and stop taking their medication because they feel they are fit and “healed”. This is suicidal!
• Exercising on an empty stomach (when hungry) is inappropriate. Remember exercise can reduce your blood sugar further.
If any of the following describe you, do consult a doctor before you start an exercise programme since you may need modified exercises or special assistance:
• You get dizzy often or you have unexplained bouts of fainting
• You have a heart condition and your doctor has advised that you restrict physical activity
• You have difficulty breathing or experience chest discomfort at rest or with increased activity.
• You have severe muscle, joint, ligament or tendon problems
• You have uncontrolled blood pressure
• You are taking medication such as insulin, that may require adjustment if you exercise.
• You have not exercised for over one year
• You are “unfit” and more than forty years old.
Dear reader before you exercise ALWAYS ask yourself these questions:
1. What benefit do I get from this exercise?
If you cannot find any, then it may not be worth your while
2. Are there any risks to this exercise?
It may not always be obvious but whenever in doubt seek professional help
3. How do I feel during and after this exercise?
If you feel dizzy, nauseous, experience headaches, have any form of moderate to severe pain etc during or after an exercise; STOP and seek help. ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!!!
4. 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 (read “the truth will set your abdominal fat free”). You often find elderly people, people with uncontrolled high blood pressure etc, performing ridiculous exercises to firm their abdominal muscles. Find out what is appropriate for you.
5. Have I taken the necessary precautions?
If you are asthmatic for instance do you have your rescue inhaler within reach? Is this exercise appropriate for an asthmatic? If a diabetic have you eaten yet? Do you have something sweet within reach to fall on in case of an emergency? At least one person you exercise with (ideally your instructor and your doctor) should know about any medical challenge you have. Do not downplay your condition.
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 overtime but the RIGHT exercises performed the RIGHT way will reward you.
The next time you exercise, STOP! THINK! MAKE SURE ITS SAFE.


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 – “Being obese can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, which are all risk factors for heart disease. Carrying excess weight around your abdomen is especially bad for heart health.”

1. Cobba’s first law of exercising – Do No Harm.
2. Fitness Therapy by Dr Karl Knopf, EdD
3. Mayo Clinic – Essential Heart Guide 2012.