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Get healthy with yourself


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WalkingMy Grandpa lived a healthy 89 years, he was a football player and had worked with the Indian Railways. Even when he was 80 plus he would hit the road? walk from home to the secretariat almost fifteen kms up and down to collect his pension. No, I am not writing my autobiography, it is just a comparison of the kind of lifestyle then and now. It is totally insane to walk so much today just that how many of us would even actually walk it to the shop down the street. We would probably waste a lot of time searching for the keys than to consider walking.

Heart matters

It is not about living longer. It’s about living healthier. It is not uncommon to hear these days that young people in their thirties die of heart attack, stress, inactivity, hyper tension being the reasons. As we seem to closely follow the western lifestyle, it feels appropriate to talk about the statistics taken in the west, which shows that one is more likely to drop dead in the street from a heart attack, than being hit by a bus. But I am sure anybody would look twice before crossing.

Our heart is a special type of muscle called the myocardium and like any muscle it requires its dose of exercise and cardio training, which includes brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling etc., would help towards this. The average heart rate for an individual is 72 beats per minute and while doing the cardio training the pulse is pushed higher to different levels keeping the age into account.

Go O2

For example, while we brisk walk the first source of energy for the working muscle is glucose from the blood and once we have exhausted the sugar levels, the energy is then proclaimed from the stored fat. To do this oxygen is very essential because oxygen only breaks down the stored fat into energy.

As your body asks for more oxygen while exercising the demand for oxygen from the circulatory system goes high in turn to the heart and the heart now starts pumping faster to demand oxygen form the lungs. This entire exchange system forces the lungs and the heart to become extremely efficient so that the working muscle can continue exercising. As a result healthy heart and lungs for you.

Get it right

It is very important to recognize that each one of us have different levels of fitness and different fitness goals. So performing the right exercise for the right number of days within the right time at the right intensity is the focus. As a beginner, you can introduce cardio activity three times a week and as you become more active the progression should go to five and gradually to seven exercise sessions per week. The duration of the exercise session to start with can be 20 minutes which can be taken over to 30, 40 and 60 minutes giving in about 2-4 weeks to get adapted with every increase.

Heart rate

How hard to exercise, is one criteria to keep in mind while doing the cardio workout. While performing the cardio exercising the heart rates should be elevated to 60-90 per cent of the age predicted maximum heart rate. Huh! Now what’s this? Don’t get zapped it is quite simple. See, to workout at your 100 % maximum heart rate, assume that when you were born your heart rate was 220 beats per minute and that’s going down by 1 each year.

For example if you are 30 years old your MHR (maximum heart rate) is 190 (120-30). Now you can calculate the MHR percentage you need to workout, which is about 60% for beginners till about 90% for the regulars. For instance the 60% MHR for 190 beats per minute would be 114. It means the maximum number of heartbeats per minute for a thirty year old should be 114 while doing the cardio workout.

Now the only other thing you need to know is how to take your pulse. Find the pulse point at your wrist by following the line of your thumb and placing two fingers (not your thumb) about an inch below your wrist joint. Count your pulse for 15 seconds, and then multiply by 4 to get your heart beats/min. Or you can just go by your instincts rate yourself on your perceived exertion felt in the scale of 1-10, 6 for 60% MHR, 7 for 70% and so on.

Walking it right

I guess this would be enough for you to feel the pulse and get into action. Start by brisk walking. Here are some right techniques for best results.

  • Walk with your chin up and look forward.
  • Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed.
  • As you step forward, plant your heels first and then roll through with your body weight.
  • Swing your arms with bent elbows up to your chest level.
  • Hold your tummy muscles tight.
  • Don’t take longer strides. Keep your stride length shorter to avoid locking of the knees, which can lead to knee pain.
  • Breathe deeply from your stomach if possible but however don’t inhale through your mouth.

By not only burning around 150 to 175 calories approximately for 20 minutes, brisk walking also let’s you destress and problem solve. It can be an enjoyable social activity or just an amazing solo activity. So what are you waiting for, dust up those shoes, kick off your legs and just move it.

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