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Health Corner


Exercise is the miracle cure we’ve always had, but for too long we’ve neglected to take our recommended dose. Our health is now suffering as a consequence. Whatever your age, there's strong scientific evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and even happier life.

Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

 Researchers says “People who do regular activity have a lower risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers.”

People are less active nowadays, partly because technology has made our lives easier. We drive cars or take public transport. Machines wash our clothes. We entertain ourselves in front of a TV or computer screen. Fewer people are doing manual work, and most of us have jobs that involve little physical effort. Work, house chores, shopping and other necessary activities are far less demanding than for previous generations.

A sedentary (inactive) lifestyle is one of the top risk factors for heart disease. Fortunately, it's a risk factor that you can do something about.


Recommended physical activity levels


 Children under 5 should do 180 minutes every day

 Young people (5-18) should do 60 minutes every day

 Adults (19-64) should do 150 minutes every week

 Older adults (65 and over) should do 150 minutes every week



Benefits of regular physical Exercise:


The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. And the benefits of exercise are yours for the taking, regardless of your age, sex or physical ability.

Exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, gain health benefits and have fun. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any health concerns.

1. Exercise controls weight

Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. You don't need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap weight-loss benefits. If you can't do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways — by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or revving up your household chores.


2. Exercise combats health conditions and diseases

Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good," cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.


3. Exercise improves mood

Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.


4. Exercise boosts energy

Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily chores.


5. Exercise promotes better sleep

Struggling to fall asleep? Or to stay asleep? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Just don't exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to fall asleep.

6. Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life

Do you feel too tired or too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy? Regular physical activity can leave you feeling energized and looking better, which may have a positive effect on your sex life. But there's more to it than that. Regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don't exercise.

7. Exercise can be fun

Exercise and physical activity can be a fun way to spend some time. It gives you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting. So, take a dance class, hit the hiking trails or join a soccer team. Find a physical activity you enjoy, and just do it. If you get bored, try something new.


Before starting an exercise program, talk to your doctor about:

Medication Changes : New medications can greatly affect your response to exercise; your doctor can tell you if your normal exercise routine is still safe.

Heavy Lifting : Make sure that lifting or pushing heavy objects and chores such as raking, shoveling, mowing, or scrubbing aren't off limits. Chores around the house can be tiring for some people; make sure you only do what you are able to do without getting tired.

Safe Exercises : Get the doctor's approval before you lift weights, use a weight machine, jog, or swim.


Types of Exercises:


I. Stretching the arms and legs before and after exercising helps prepare the muscles for activity and helps prevent injury and muscle strain. Regular stretching also increases your range of motion and flexibility.

II. Cardiovascular or aerobic activity strengthens the heart and lungs and improves the body's ability to use oxygen. Aerobic exercise has the most benefits for your heart. Over time, aerobic exercise can help decrease your heart rate and blood pressure at rest and improve your breathing. Aerobic exercises include: walking, jogging, jumping rope, bicycling (stationary or outdoor), cross-country skiing, skating, rowing, and low-impact aerobics or water aerobics.

III. Strengthning repeated muscle contractions (tightening) until the muscle becomes tired; for people with heart failure, many strengthening exercises are not recommended.



Every Exercise session should include :


1. Warm-up : This helps your body adjust slowly from rest to exercise. A warm-up reduces the stress on your heart and muscles, slowly increases your breathing, circulation (heart rate), and body temperature. It also helps improve flexibility and reduce muscle soreness. Every exercise session should start with a warm-up. Here are some stretching exercises you can try to get yourself started. Please check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. If any of the following exercises causes pain, do not continue the activity and seek the advice of a doctor or physical therapist. The best warm-up includes stretching, range of motion activities, and the beginning of the activity at a low intensity level.

2. Conditioning Phase : This follows the warm-up. During the conditioning phase, the benefits of exercise are gained and calories are burned. Be sure to monitor the intensity of the activity (check your heart rate). Don't over do it.

3. Cool- Down : This is the last phase of your exercise session. It allows your body to gradually recover from the conditioning phase. Your heart rate and blood pressure will return to near resting values. Cool-down does not mean to sit down! In fact, do not sit, stand still, or lie down right after exercise. This may cause you to feel dizzy or lightheaded or have heart palpitations (fluttering in your chest). The best cool-down is to slowly decrease the intensity of your activity. You may also do some of the same stretching activities you did in the warm-up phase.



Exercise While Sitting :


While performing these exercises, maintain good posture. Keep your back straight; do not curve or slump your back. Make sure your movements are controlled and slow. Avoid quick, jerking movements. Do not bounce. Do not hold your breath during these exercises.

1. Ankle Pumping : Sit on the floor with your feet straight out in front of you. Keeping your heels on the floor, lift your toes up as far as you can. Hold for a count of five.

2. Knee Strengthning : Raise your foot to fully straighten your knee out in front of you. Hold for a count of five. Lower your foot to the floor. Repeat on other side.

3. Hip Bending : Lift one knee up toward the ceiling. As you lower this knee, raise your other knee. Alternate each leg as if you were marching in place (while sitting.)

4. Overhead reaching : Raise one arm straight over your head, with your palm facing away from you. Keep your elbow straight. Slowly lower your arm to your side. Repeat with other arm.

5. Shoulder Touching : Sit with your arms at your sides and your palms facing up. Bend your elbows until your hands are touching your shoulders. Lower your hands to your sides.

6. Single Arm Lifts : Sit with your arms at your sides, fingers pointing toward the floor. Raise one arm out to your side, keeping your elbow straight and your palm facing down. Slowly lower your arm to your side. Repeat with your other arm.

7. Shoulder Shrugs : Keeping your back straight, lift your shoulders up and forward toward your ears. Release your shoulders down and back in a smooth circular motion.

8. Arm Circles : Sit with your arms at your sides, fingers pointing toward the floor. Raise both arms out from your sides (about 1 or 2 feet from your body). Keeping your elbows straight and your palms facing toward you, rotate your arms in small circles.

9. Single Shoulder Circles :Bending one elbow, put your fingertips on your shoulder. Rotate your shoulder and elbow clockwise, then counter clockwise. Repeat with each arm.



Streching Exercises :


While performing these exercises, make sure your movements are controlled and slow. Avoid quick, jerking movements. Stretch until a gentle pull is felt in your muscle. Hold each stretch without bouncing or causing pain for 20 to 30 seconds. Do not hold your breath during these exercises.

1. Hamstring Stretch : While standing, place one foot on a stool or chair, while holding onto a wall or sturdy object (such as a table). Choose a comfortable height that allows you to keep your knee straight. Slowly lean forward, keeping your back straight, and reach one hand down your shin until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh. Relax, and then repeat with your other leg.

2. Quadriceps stretch : Stand facing a wall, placing one hand against the wall for support. Bend one knee, grasping your ankle and pulling your leg behind you. Try to touch your heel to your buttocks. Relax, and then repeat with your other leg.

3. Calf stretch against wall : Stand facing the wall with your hands against the wall for support. Put one foot about 12 inches in front of the other. Bend your front knee, and keep your other leg straight. (Keep both heels on the floor.) To prevent injury, do not let your bent knee extend forward past your toes. Slowly lean forward until you feel a mild stretch in the calf of your straight leg. Relax, and then repeat with your other leg.

4. Calf stretch on stairs : Stand on the stairs, holding a handrail or placing your hand on the wall for support. Place the ball of one foot on the stair. Lower your heel down toward the step below, until you feel a gentle pull in your calf. Switch legs.

5. Knee Pull : . Lie on your back and flatten the small of your back onto the floor. Bend one knee and pull your bent leg toward your chest, until you feel a pull in your lower back. Try to keep your head on the floor, but do not strain yourself. Gently lower your leg, and then repeat with your other leg.

6. Groin Stretch : . Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet together. Slowly lower your knees to the floor until you feel a gentle pull in your groin and inner thighs.

7. Overhead Arm Pull : Lock your fingers together, with your palms facing out (or hold onto a towel so your hands are shoulder width apart). Extend your arms out in front of you with your elbows straight. Lift your arms to shoulder height. Raise your arms overhead until you feel a gentle pull in your chest or shoulders .

8. Behind Back Arm Raise : At waist level, put your hands behind your back, locking your fingers together (or hold onto a towel so your hands are shoulder width apart). Straighten your elbows and raise your arms upward until you feel a gentle pull in your chest or shoulders.

9. Side Bends : Stand straight with your legs about shoulder width apart. Reach over your head with one arm, elbow bent, sliding the opposite arm and hand down your thigh, toward your knee. Hold the stretch until you feel a gentle pull at your side. Repeat with other side.

10. Double Shoulder Circles : While bending your elbows, put your fingertips on your shoulders. Rotate your shoulders and elbows clockwise, then counter clockwise, as if drawing large circles with both elbows. Repeat in each direction.

11. Leg Circles : Hold onto a chair or other sturdy object for balance. Lift one leg straight behind you, keeping both knees straight. Rotate your leg clockwise, then counter clockwise, as if drawing small circles with your foot. (You should feel the movement at your hip joint). Repeat in each direction, with each leg.



General Workout Tips for People With Heart Failure


If you have heart failure follow these tips.........

A). Be sure any exercise is paced and balanced with rest.

B). Avoid isometric exercises such as push-ups and sit-ups. Isometric exercises involve straining muscles against other muscles or an immovable object.

C). Don't exercise outdoors when it is too cold, hot, or humid. High humidity may cause you to tire more quickly; extreme temperatures can interfere with circulation, make breathing difficult, and cause chest pain. Better choices are indoor activities such as mall walking.

D). Make sure you stay hydrated. It is important to drink water even before you feel thirsty, especially on hot days. But, be careful not to drink too much water. Follow your doctor's guidelines about how much fluid you can have in a day.

E). Extremely hot and cold showers or sauna baths should be avoided after exercise. These extreme temperatures increase the workload on the heart.

F). Steer clear of exercise in hilly areas. If you must walk in steep areas, make sure you slow down when going uphill to avoid working too hard. Monitor your heart rate closely.

G). If your exercise program has been interrupted for a few days (for example, due to illness, vacation, or bad weather), make sure you ease back into the routine. Start with a reduced level of activity, and gradually increase it until you are back where you started.



Exercise Precautions


There are many precautions to take when developing an exercise program.

1. Stop the exercise if you become overly fatigued or short of breath; discuss the symptoms with your doctor or schedule an appointment for evaluation.

2. Do not exercise if you are not feeling well or have a fever. You should wait a few days after all symptoms disappear before restarting the exercise program, unless your doctor gives other directions.

3. If you experience shortness of breath or increased fatigue during any activity, slow down or stop the activity. Elevate your feet when resting. If you continue to have shortness of breath, call your doctor. The doctor may make changes in medications, diet, or fluid restrictions.

4. Stop the activity if you develop a rapid or irregular heartbeat or have heart palpitations. Check your pulse after you have rested for 15 minutes. If it's still above 120-150 beats per minute, call the doctor for further instructions.


If you experience pain:

Don't ignore it. If you have chest pain or pain anywhere else in the body, stop doing the exercise. Performing an activity while in pain may cause stress or damage to the joints.

Stop Exercise and take rest if you:

1. Have chest pain

2. Feel weak

3. Are dizzy or lightheaded

4. Have unexplained weight gain or swelling (call the doctor right away)

5. Have pressure or pain in the chest, neck, arm, jaw, or shoulder

6. Have any other symptoms that cause concern

Call the doctor if you have symptoms that do not go away.



Exercise Guidelines :


Here are a few guidelines to keep yourself from doing too much exercise or exercising too vigorously

1. Gradually increase your activity level, especially if you have not been exercising regularly.

2. Wait at least one and a half hours after eating a meal before exercising.

3. When drinking liquids during exercise, remember to follow your fluid restriction guidelines.

4. Take time to include a five-minute warm-up, including stretching exercises, before any aerobic activity and include a five- to 10-minute cool-down after the activity. Stretching can be done while standing or sitting.

5. Exercise at a steady pace. Keep a pace that allows you to still talk during the activity.

6. Keep an exercise record.


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