Cool-down – Don’t ignore the basics
We have all heard of the phrase – cooling down. It may be the one part of an exercise routine we look forward to the most. However, it is also the most misunderstood. The aim of a post-exercise cool down is to prevent dizziness. A vigorous workout routine causes blood vessels in the legs to expand, bringing more blood into legs and feet. If the workout comes to an end abruptly without a proper cool down routine, the heart rate slows down suddenly and blood pools in the lower body, causing dizziness and even fainting. For non-athletes who exercise to stay in shape, even the walk from the treadmill to the locker room could bring about dizziness without a proper cool down. Recent research has shown that the idea of a cool down preventing muscle soreness and injury is actually just a myth. But myth or otherwise, a cool down followed by stretches is necessary to round up a workout session.
How does one cool down? By continuing your activity (like a jog), or a low-intensity exercise, but at a slower pace, continually reducing your pace every couple of minutes for a total of five minutes or more, until your heart rate, body temperature and respiration come down to normal. Once you’ve cooled down, gently stretch every muscle.
Stretching when muscles are warm can improve flexibility, which in turn helps prevent injury. Stretch every major muscle group, especially the ones that have just been worked on, holding each stretch for 10 to 20 seconds and breathing throughout. Stretching shouldn’t be painful, but you should feel tension in the muscle being stretched.
Laughter – the best medicine
Every one of us has faced days when we feel out of sorts – with niggles, aches and pains all over our body. Nothing works. Then our funny friend drops in for a visit and five minutes later, you are rolling with laughter. Half an later, every single ache has disappeared… even that persistent headache. Laughter truly is one of the best medicines of all. In two people with a similar ailment who are undergoing the exact same treatment, the individual with a positive attitude who laughs more will respond better to treatment. Laughter strengthens the immune system, diminishes pain, boosts energy and guards you from the negative effects of stress. Laughter is known to decrease stress hormones and increase immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, improving one’s resistance to diseases. Laughter also reduces blood sugar levels, increases glucose tolerance in diabetics and non-diabetics alike.
Medically too, it has been proven that laughter helps blood vessels function better. It acts on the inner lining of blood vessels, called the endothelium, causing vessels to relax and expand, increasing blood flow and benefitting the heart and the brain.
Researchers are not sure how laughter provides all these benefits. It could be because the movement of the diaphragm muscles as you chuckle or laugh provides a good inner massage or it triggers the body’s feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Whatever be the mechanics, the end result is there for all to see. You can laugh your way to better health.
I want her… beach body
Bipasha Basu has seen it all – the glorious heights of being a Ford supermodel and being an overweight Bollywood star. It is an indication of her level head that when she decided to get back to her peak form, she did not opt for a ridiculous diet, but sensibly combined exercise and healthy eating.
In the last six years, Bipasha, or Bips as she also known, has become a role model for women wanting a toned and fit body. Now Bips is ready to flaunt that body in a bikini in a new movie called Player. She says, “I did not follow a different diet or workout regime to look perfect in a bikini, as I stay fit all year round. I went on a strict, high-protein diet for some time and increased the intensity of my cardio workouts.”
Her workout routine is no secret as she has quite a few workout DVDs out in the market. Here is a brief preview of what you can do and eat to get her beach bod. Her diet is a combination of egg whites in all forms, mushrooms and broccoli, steamed fish with less salt, nuts, apples and several cups of green tea.
She is also a huge fan of yoga and follows Bharat Thakur’s school of yoga and does up to 108 suryanamaskars each day. In addition, she spends two hours, six days a week, in the gym. Her routine is fixed - with 50 minutes of cardio (treadmill, elliptical machine and rowing machine), an occasional spinning class and focused exercise for different body parts each day – upper body, abdomen, legs and lower body, gluteus maximus, upper body again and abdomen and gluteus maximus on the sixth day. To break the monotony, she adopts a new routine every four months.
Sounds tough? It is but not impossible. The end results are there for all to see.
(‘Fitness First opened their new ‘XFit’ studio - a high-intensity training studio that takes fitness to a new levels in the 1st week of December.)