“I do not have time” reigns supreme
Many of us have packed our days with so much work and back-to-back social activities we hardly have time to breathe. The little time we can squeeze out is used to stuff ourselves with food and drinks, but we may be able to start squeezing in some exercise and gradually build on that.
We all wish our favourite exercises will give us the same benefits as all other exercises but the truth is that some exercises are “more equal than others” just as happens in every aspect of life.
This does not mean if you are unable to perform the most effective exercises, you should exert yourself and cause injury to your body. Remember, Cobba’s First Law of Exercising is “DO NO HARM”.
These exercises may just help you stay afloat:
- Walking& Dancing
Every single rep (repetition) in this exercise is worth the effort.
Squats target the quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteals, which in simple language refers to the thigh muscles and buttocks.
It is important to learn the right technique and since it exercises large muscle groups, you are able to burn a lot of calories with squats.
In every exercise session, it is important to work large muscles before the smaller ones.
- Keep feet shoulder width apart
- Back should be straight (standing posture)
- Bend knees and lower your rear till your thighs are horizontal.
- Return to the standing position
- Repeat steps 1-4
- Remember to stretch the muscles used after the exercise.
If you have difficulty following the steps above, place a chair behind you and with your back straight try to sit on it. Do not let your buttocks touch the seat, then return to the standing position and repeat. As your technique improves, you may remove the chair.
As one gets stronger you may even carry some weights while doing squats but as always start with caution. You may do only three reps at a time (properly). Gradually add some more.
WHEN TO AVOID SQUATS
- Severe knee pain irrespective of cause
- Knee injury even if no longer painful ( you will need professional supervision)
- Acute back pain ( you will later do back slide which is similar to squats and helps strengthen back muscles)
This exercise benefits almost everyone with a lifestyle disease. Hypertensives (those with high blood pressure) even get a bonus since it causes peripheral pooling of blood and helps to lower the blood pressure over time.
Arguably the safest exercise for strengthening abdominal muscles and has also the added benefit of strengthening lower back muscles. Especially for people who sit for long hours (you shouldn’t anyway) this is great news for helping your back.
- Start by getting into a push-up position
- Bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms not on your hands
- Support your lower body on your toes
- Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to ankles just like a plank of wood
- Engage your core (midsection) by sucking your belly button into your spine
- Hold this position for the prescribed time. This may vary from five seconds to one minute. Repeat.
This is probably the first exercise most people try out; well apart from laughter and walking I presume everyone is familiar with it.
Go ahead and squeeze a minute a day in there.
WALKING & DANCING
Before you set out to exercise your muscles remember to walk at least a minute before you start and a minute after you are done.
You may even walk while in one place, what matters is moving your legs and arms and getting your heart to pump.
Use every opportunity during the day to:
- use the stairs instead of the elevator
- walk while you talk on your cell phone
- Walk to a colleague’s desk at the office instead of using the phone or sending someone else.
- Pick your own stuff for cooking instead of sitting and getting people to assist with even the trivial errands
- Dance with your heart whenever you have a chance; while watching TV and even while you take a shower.
A minute or two each for Squats, Planks and Push-ups and two or more minutes of walking every morning, afternoon or evening may just be enough to get you through the day and certainly it will not tamper much with your “tight” schedule.
AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, ENSURE HYGIENE, 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
Health Essentials Ltd/ St Andrews Clinic/Mobissel
Dr. Essel is a medical doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy, fitness nutrition and corrective exercise.
Thought for the week – “For heart health you need to relax and have fun as well; schedule time for leisure, laugh often, learn to breathe deeply and maybe get a pet.”
- The Gym Bible