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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Exercise-Part 2

Exercise is good for your body and mind. You feel better, and look better. Exercise increases self-esteem, confidence and endorphin levels, making you happier and healthier.
Exercise-Part 1

Trim Your Hips

Summer is upon us, and its time to shed the layer of clothing we were happily hiding under during the winter. Are you in ship-shape for the season?

Interval workouts

An interval workout is a workout wherein you alternate an intensive training session with a relaxed one, by timing yourself. Interval workouts help build endurance in addition to targeting certain muscle groups such as the hamstrings and butt muscles.

Brisk walks

Brisk walking is a great way to ensure you lose weight on your thighs and butt. Even more effective than brisk walking, is walking up an incline. If possible, try an identify a slope that you can walk on. Walk briskly while climbing up the slope, and walk slowly while climbing down.

Walking up the stairs is also a great exercise for your hips; so don't take the lift when you can take the stairs.


If you have access to a treadmill, start off by working out without an incline. After around 5 minutes of warming up, increase the incline to 1%. Walk fast for around 1 minute, and bring the incline back to 0% for around 2 minutes. Time yourself, and keep alternating, depending on how much your body can take. If you are not a beginner, you could increase the incline and reduce the rest period. Timing is everything. An interval workout could be done with any exercise equipment, including a stepper, an exercycle or rower. Don't forget to modify the workout according to your fitness level, as you don't want to burn yourself out.


Sprinting is great exercise for your behind. Try this basic workout to increase endurance, build stamina and lung power: Walk for 5 minutes, and run, not jog, for one full minute. Slow down to a walk and keep walking until you've fully recovered. After you've got your breath and stamina back, and go for another 1-minute sprint. Remember, sprinting is a step further from basic exercise. All you really require is around 40 minutes of brisk walking 4 times a week to strengthen your heart and acquire basic sound health. However, if you have personal health and fitness goals, or if you want to target certain muscles (in this case, the butt muscles), you need to supplement your regular exercise routine with an additional workout. Drink lots of water before your workout and after, especially before. Don't wait till you get dehydrated, or you'll end up feeling worse than you ever did, and will probably swear off sprinting before the first workout is up.


Remember to keep stretching. As your muscles tighten, you may find that you have reduced flexibility. (Sad, but true!) So don't neglect your stretches. Try and touch your head to your knees without bending them while standing up or sitting down, to stretch your back and thigh muscles.

Leg Lift

Lie down flat on your back, with your legs stretched out straight. Lift up one leg, keeping the other leg on the floor, and without bending either knee. Lift it so it is perpendicular to the floor. Hold it up to the count of 5, and slowly lower the leg. Repeat 5 times, and then switch legs. This exercise targets the glutal muscles, and is great for trimming the butt.

Prevent Walking Injuries

Going for a walk? You'll be surprised to know that even though walking seems a mild exercise, you can injure yourself in more ways than you can imagine. Read on for some tips on walking smart, and walking safe.


Shoes are important. Don't wear shoes that are too tight, too loose, too old or uncomfortable. Get shoes that fit perfectly and are comfortable. Wear shoes that are made for the specific purpose of running or walking. If your shoes are too old, bin them and get yourself a new pair. After all, it's cheaper than footing your doctor's bill!


Don't hit the track and start walking immediately, without first warming up a bit. Do a few stretching exercises first.

  • Bend down and slowly touch your toes without bending your knees.
  • With your hands on your hips and legs shoulder width apart, bend as far back as possible.
  • Swing your arms.
  • Stretch your legs by bending one knee, and throwing out the other leg straight behind you. Rest your hands on the bent knee. Alternate legs.


Eat your vitamins! If you don't eat well, exercising will not be of any benefit. Eating well doesn't mean eating a lot; it means eating nutritionally. So get your daily doze of iron, proteins and vitamins, and follow up with a multivitamin.


The correct posture is very important. It helps with your breathing, and walking will be more beneficial then.

  • Keep your back straight, stick your chest out and throw your shoulders back.
  • Push yourself forward with your toes.
  • Keep your arms bent at 90 degrees, in front of your chest.
  • Look forward, not down.

Shin Pain

Walk with short strides, and take it easy the first day. If you walk too fast with long strides, you may develop a pain in your legs. This is different from the pain you experience after working out after a long time. The pain starts the minute you stop walking, or even if you slow down - a sure sign that you're overdoing it and injuring tissues. Slow down immediately, and walk with shorter strides.

Heel Spurs / Plantar Fasciitis

Sometimes you may develop an injury on the heel of your foot. This is known as plantar fasciitis. You feel the injury after some time, when you stand up. The minute you apply the pressure of your body's weight on your heel, you will feel a pain.

Here's what you should do in case of a walking injury. The golden rule is RICE - Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

Rest the injured part. Get off it at once, and lie down. Better yet, sleep. Only when your body is rested, will muscle build. So sleep for a bit longer than usual and help your body repair the damage by building muscle.

Ice, ice baby! Apply ice to the injured part. Ice will prevent inflammation, which would otherwise destroy the surrounding tissue. Wrap up a few cubes in a damp towel to allow the chill to soak through without freezing your fingers, and apply it to the injury.

Compress the injury by wrapping it securely in a bandage. Crepe bandages are best, and should be available at the pharmacy. A crepe bandage, once used, needn't be discarded. Simply wash the bandage, and store it in your cupboard or first aid box. These bandages are best for all kinds of internal injuries, muscle or ligament tears etc.

Elevate the injured area so it is placed above your heart. For example, if you've injured your heel, lie on your bed and prop up the heel with the help of a few cushions and pillow. If the heel is propped up by about one foot, it would be above the level of your heart.

Take a Combiflam or any other anti-inflammatory medicine to combat swelling and inflation. Keep re-applying ice as often as possible.

Call your doctor if the pain refuses to go away or the swelling seems to be significant.

Trim Your Upper Arms

Summer is a month away, and if you dare to bare - your arms, that is - its time you started working on getting rid of that flab.

Upper arms are a storage site for fat, and even the thinnest woman who doesn't seem to have an inch of spare fat anywhere on her body and proudly declares "No matter how much I eat, I just can't put on weight…" would in all probability have upper arms that jiggle.

The reason that most of us have flabby upper arms is because they don't get worked out at all during our regular routine. Here's how you can get your upper arms in shape:

Start doing some form of aerobic activity like walking or jogging. Just exercising your arms will not really accomplish much, unless it is combined with aerobic activity. Aerobic activities help you burn fat from all over, and at a much faster rate than spot reduction exercises do. Thus, it's best to combine a spot reduction activity which targets the muscles in your upper arm, with an aerobic exercise.


Invest in a pair of dumbbells. Alternatively you could use an empty oil can filled with water. You could also use a large coke bottle, but this may not be easy to hold on to. It's better to stick to something with a handle.

Do you really need weights even if you don't want to build large muscles? The answer is yes. Working with light weights won't increase the size of your biceps and triceps. It will, however, convert the fat into muscle. Muscle helps you lose fat even when you are not working out, so you will be burning those calories while sleeping! Isn't that great?

In addition, more muscle means more strength, so you will be able to lift that chair - and table - without calling for help. (We don't recommend it though. You don't want to strain your back muscles.)

Hold a dumbbell in one arm and lift your upper arm so it is against the side of your head, pressed against your ear. Support it from the front with your other arm, and slowly raise the arm so it is straight up above you. Lower it again, till the dumbbell touches the back of your spinal cord. Do this ten times for each arm, rest, and do two more reps.


Stretch your hands straight out on your sides so they are shoulder level. With your palms facing down, pulse them up and down 50 times. Then face your palms out, pulsing back and front, up, pulsing up and down and back, pulsing back and front again. Pulse them 50 times each time.


Assume the regular push up pose, with your legs out straight behind you and your arms below your chest on the floor. Keep your arms as close together as possible, with fingers pointing forward. Slowly lower your body till your elbows are bent at 90 degrees, pause for a few seconds, and lift your body again. Start with around 2-3 push ups, and slowly keep increasing. Once this gets too easy, you could keep lowering your body till your chin almost touches the floor, and then lift it again. Combine this routine with a jog around the block thrice a week and you'll be set to bare-all this summer!

On The Right Track

How many times have you resolved to start exercising but just haven"t gotten down to it because of lack of time, space or just plain inclination? You don"t have access to a gym, are no good at any particular sport, can"t swim Excuses are a dime a dozen. Admit it it"s just so much easier to loll around in front of the tube after a hard day"s work. Well, if that"s what you want, that"s what you get it"s your life. And who are we to remind you that it"s not getting any longer, and by the looks of it, any healthier.

But for those of you who want to start an exercise regime, there"s nothing easier than running. So just pick up a pair of sneakers and hit the road.


Good for the heart
More people die from heart attacks than from any kind of other illness, yet, other than switching to low-cholesterol oil, people do little to reduce their chances of a heart attack. Thirty minutes a day, four days a week is all you need, and you"re on your way to cardiovascular distinction.

Simple and Inexpensive
Everyone knows how to jog and you don"t need to have a particular skill required by other exercises like squash, cycling or swimming. Plus, you don"t need to join a gym or purchase expensive equipment. Your entire investment would consist of a good pair of running shoes.

Jogging is the most accessible of aerobic sports. No matter where you live, an excellent area for running is almost always close by. Even if there is no joggers' park in your locality, there"s always the good ol" sadak.

Reduces Stress
Life is one long road of struggle and you just want to give vent to those frustrations before you explode. Slip on your Adidas and run your way to stress-free nirvana.

Burns calories
Few activities come even close to jogging as far as burning calories go.

Jogging allows for flexibility. You don"t need a partner and can run with or without company, you can choose your venue, you can run at whatever pace and time suits you and you can run for as long as you want.

Boosts confidence
Running ranks high for its feel-good factor. It boosts the supply of endorphins in the body, leading to what is commonly known as Runners High. Running doesn"t just make you healthier and fitter, it boosts your self-esteem and confidence. You look better, and feel better.


Starting off
If your buttocks have been glued to the couch for a while, you will have to take it slow. Start with brisk walking for about a week, till you can walk for half an hour without slowing down. Start your jogging schedule by walking for about seven minutes and jogging for three. Repeat twice, till you have completed the half-hour cycle. Every week, increase your jogging time and reduce your walking time. Avoid increasing jogging time by more than ten percent a week. You should be able to jog continuously for half an hour in about four months. (Remember, don"t clock your jogging in terms of distance, clock it in terms of minutes.)

You could walk daily if you wish, but do not jog more than three days a week initially. If you experience joint pain, do not try and exercise it out. Consult a physiotherapist. You may be jogging all wrong, on the wrong surface or with the wrong shoes. Take a break for a while and let the joint heal.

This should be one of the least of your concerns. First concentrate on being able to jog the full half hour and building up stamina. Then start thinking about picking up speed. You'll know you're jogging too fast if you are unable to carry on a conversation with your jogging partner. If on the other hand you can hit the high notes of a Lata Mangeshkar sonata at the top of your voice, you need to buck up...

What to wear
Shorts and a tee shirt are best in warm weather. Wear track pants and a tee-shirt in colder climes and put on a sweat shirt when you are through jogging to avoid catching a chill. For women, a sports bra is a must. Also, if you are running in the daytime, wear a sunscreen.

Carry a bottle of water when you run to avoid dehydration. Visit your nearest sports goods store for a tiny water bottle that you can loop onto your waistband, and keep sipping at intervals.

Where to run
There's nothing like a morning run along the beach to start off your day on the right foot. Jogging on sand is very tiring though and not everyone shacks by the beach… so for those living in the midst of a concrete jungle, a mud track is the best bet. The soft, even surface absorbs a lot of the impact, cutting down joint pains (mostly knee-related). Though most new fangled running shoes are high tech enough to absorb maximum impact even if you are running on a concrete surface, it still is better to jog in a park from the safety point of view. At least no speeding BEST is going to run you down.

Heel to toe
It"s amazing how many joggers do it wrong. When jogging, avoid landing on your toes first. The pressure should be absorbed by the heel. Land on the ball of your heel and ease down to your toes.

Warm up
Never, ever start jogging without first warming up. Do some light stretches and walk a couple of minutes before starting off. When you are done jogging, slow down your pace to a walk and cool down before stopping.

Read More on Run

Stretch Your Back

Years of slouching on soft sofas, sleeping on softer beds and maintaining bad posture while walking or sitting leads to back aches at best and compressed discs at worst. However, spending as little as five minutes a day on stretching your back can make your back stronger, more resilient and supple. These exercises will also help improve your posture, helping you walk straighter and look better. While it would be great if you could work them all into your schedule, you don't have to. Just pick one and get started!

Place your hands on your buttocks, as if placing them inside your back pockets, with thumbs jutting outwards. Bend just around five inches backwards and hold this position for thirty seconds. Repeat three times, and do this around five to six times a day.

Keep your legs shoulder width apart, and bend forward to touch your toes. This should ideally be done without bending your knees, but if you must, you could bend them a little initially. Slowly, work up to touching your toes keeping your knees unbent, then gradually try to touch the floor.

Lie on your back on the floor or mattress. Bend your knees and tucking your hands under them, bring them towards your shoulders. Lift your shoulders slightly so you touch your head to your knees. This stretches your lower back.

Sit up and keep your legs straight out in front of you. Lift your arms up to straighten your back, and slowly bend forward without bending your knees. Try and touch your calves, and if that is not possible, reach for your knees. Hold to the count of 10, and release. This gets your back used to stretching. Gradually, work up to holding your calves, then touching your toes, and finally, touching your head to your knees as in the Paschimottanasana.

After you have stretched your back forwards, it helps to stretch it backwards. Turn over and lie down on your stomach. Place your hands by the side of your waist, palms on the floor and elbows up, and slowly pull yourself up from the waist till you straighten your hands. Do not lift your legs up, only your upper body. Face up, and push drop your head as far behind as you can, stretching your neck. Feel the stretch in your spine. Hold this position to the count of ten, and gradually lower yourself.

Here's a great stretch for your upper back. All you need is a wall, which should be easy to manage. Stand at arm's length from the wall, and place your palms on the wall. Slowly inch your fingers upwards and keep leaning forward without moving your feet. Hold to the count of ten, and inch your fingers down again. Repeat.

These stretches can be performed at any time of the day, and some of them don't even require you to have an empty stomach - unless you are doing them all together. As you make your way through a busy day, try to work in a few stretches every now and then. The effort is minimal, and the benefits, tremendous.


Golf can make for a fascinating hobby. It is good exercise as one game involves at least three to four hours of walking in fresh, open air. It enlivens and invigorates you, and is less stressful than most racquet sports.

Age perspective

One of the best things about golf is that this is a sport you can play even when you are much, much older. Mr Iqbal Singh Duggal played golf unit the ripoe old age of 92. It provided him with an extremely satisfying hobby to the end of his days, and kept him busy from the time he retired. He didn't have to look around for things to do to fill his time. Thanks to golf, he already had an established routine. Every morning after breakfast he would go to the club, play a few rounds of golf, have a light lunch at the club with his friends, and return home early in the evening to be with his family.

When I compare him to my grandfather who sits at home the entire day watching television, reading books and laying guilt trips on everyone that they don't visit him enough, I know who I would rather be like in my old age!


The downside about golf is that it can be expensive, but many swear that the expenses are well worth the joy. Fortunately in India, a game of golf is a lot more affordable than it is in other parts of the world, and is well worth taking it up as a sport.

Social Sport

Golf is a very social sport, and a person can make a lot of friends and business contacts during this game. Plenty business deals have been struck on the golf course. Jobs have been offered and partnerships have been formed. Rarely do people feel as passionate about a sport as they do about golf. Some golf enthusiasts wouldn't mind flying out to play golf on a course in another city or even another country, depending on their financial status of course! They compare golf courses the way another person would compare countries. A hobby this fulfilling contributes so much to the joy of life.

Driving Range

If you don't have the money now, you can always find out about using a driving range from where you can practice golf shots. You don't need to hire a caddy or a coach, and you don't need an entire set of golf clubs. You can hire golf balls and a club at the driving range for a fairly nominal charge, and start practicing. Once you have got the hang of hitting the ball, you can start getting more serious about the game. If you are new to the game, you do need to have someone who can play with you, who can show you how to hold the club, your footwork, and help you with your stroke.


You don't need to hire an expensive coach if you want to learn the game. You could even arrange for a good caddy to coach you. Most caddies are very good players, and they charge you something like Rs. 100 an hour. This works out to be reasonable, especially if you find another friend to learn golf with you. Then the two of you can share the caddy and other golfing fees.


Running: Far easier said than done. If you are one of the many people who do not completely relish a walk in the park and would love to run, but cannot seem to manage to keep up the pace for more than five minutes, take heart. Impossible though it may seem at present, you will get better, and you will be able to run for longer - much longer. However, there is a way to go about achieving this.

Take it slow

Needless to say, if you have been spending most of your free time watching television or doing your children's homework, you are not going to suddenly gain mega watts of power that will enable you to run 5 rounds of the track without losing a breath. You are going to have to take it slow. Unfortunately, building up to a decent running speed and distance takes time and patience, and many people get frustrated with the effort required and give up before they have reached their goal.


Remember to alternate between running, jogging and walking. You don't need to run everyday for the same amount of time. Also, don't start running until you have warmed up for at least ten minutes by walking. And when you have finished your run, don't stop all at once. Cool down by walking for five minutes before coming to a complete stop.


Stretch regularly to keep your muscles supple and prevent injury. The best time to stretch is when your body has warmed up a little. So, jog slowly for around five minutes, and then perform a few stretches. You can also stop for a while during jogging or walking to stretch, and then carry on with your workout.

Build stamina

The first month you will need to concentrate on building stamina. No running for the first month. Instead, jog for two minutes, walk for two minutes, jog for two minutes… and so on. Keep going for fifteen minutes or half an hour in total (however long you can manage). Keep this up for a month, and your stamina will increase. You are now ready to move to the next level: running.

Your weekly schedule should now look like this:

Monday: Jog slow, ten minutes or less
Tuesday: Rest, or walk
Wednesday: Run, ten minutes or less
Thursday: Jog slow, ten to twelve minutes
Friday: Rest, or walk
Saturday: Run, twelve minutes
Sunday: Rest

As you can see, you have taken it easy this week by jogging for as long as you can without pushing yourself too hard. You have also alternated running with jogging, which will increase your stamina by leaps and bounds. The next week, follow the same schedule but increase your jogging time by a couple or five minutes, as much as your stamina allows. Remember to stick with the same time frame the entire week so that you don't push yourself too hard - because your body will not be able to handle it and you will give up before you go much further.
Also, always allow yourself days of rest in between or days of super-slow jogging or walking to help your muscles gain strength.

Happy running!

Read More on Jogging

Walk Your Way to Health

We often crib that there is not enough time to exercise - where is the time to go to a gym or yoga classes, we say. In fact, let's face it, in the case of many of us, exercise doesn't even figure in our daily routine. When our children go to school they take the school bus, no matter that the school is just two blocks away. We ourselves take the car whenever we go out anywhere. With the kind of sedentary lives that we lead in the cities, we are losing out on the joys of that simple exercise - walking. Let us reclaim this pleasurable path to health. It is easy, safe and enjoyable.

Walking is acknowledged to be a great exercise for overall health. See what it does to our body.

Panacea for all

  • It is a great cardiovascular workout. People who walk and are active are at considerably lower risk of developing cardiovascular diseases than those leading sedentary lives. Walking is good for the heart and lungs, and therefore, very beneficial for the heart patients.
  • Walking tones muscles, strengthens the bones and makes them flexible. Therefore, children should be particularly encouraged to walk.
  • When all avenues of exercise are closed for the aged, the option of walking still exists. Walking is particularly therapeutic for the old; it is also known to prolong life!
  • Walking works wonders for the well-being of a pregnant woman and her unborn child.
  • Walking is a good weight loss exercise as it helps burn excess fat.
  • Walking keeps your digestive system well-oiled and relieves constipation.
  • By increasing the immune system cells it makes our body more resistant to attacks from pathogens.
  • Walking is a feel-good exercise; it peps up the mood and gladdens the heart. It also makes us more energetic over a period of time.

With ipod or friends

Walking is a no-fuss exercise. You do not need any cumbersome paraphernalia; just put on your walking or running shoes and set off. But the shoes had better be good, so invest in a good pair. They should be the wear it, forget it kind - not too tight or too stiff. And the ideal gear is the track suit. If walking is your time out and you wish to go alone, carry a walk-man or an ipod and take off. If you prefer gupshup to silence, do it in company of fellow-walkers or friends.

Brisk walking

Walking is one activity that can be done to suit one's pace. If you are old, you can stroll, albeit for a long time, and as a beginner, walk at an easy pace before you pick up speed. But, when we talk of walking we mean outdoor walking, and not treadmill walking; it is not the same! Whether you amble, stroll or walk, the aim should be to do 'brisk walking' ultimately; only that way will you derive maximum benefit from this workout.

A good posture is important for walking. If you lean forward or arch your back you'll unnecessarily stress and injure your muscles. Keep the back straight, tuck the stomach in, tighten the buttocks and swing the arms to keep pace with the leg movements. Allow your body to warm up with a few stretches or by walking at slow pace for 5 - 10 minutes, before you start 'brisk walking'. Then too, do not overdo it; the pace should be fast, but not forced. Quicken your steps, but don't take long strides. You should glide easily.

A 30-40- minute walk of moderate intensity, 4 - 5 days a week, with a day or two of rest in between, will be an ideal regimen.

Children and walking

To inculcate the habit of walking among children, parents will have to first kindle enthusiasm in them. Obviously, you can't expect children to do 'brisk walking' with you; you will have to slacken your pace to include them. Walking with children will be an exploratory experience; they will want to stop to see some flower or pat a pet dog. That is the way it should be. Make it a long walk, but be sure to have a reward for the child at the end of the walk. Therefore, predetermine the destination; tell the child that we are going for an ice-cream at a joint a little far away from home and he will tag along.

Anywhere, anytime activity

You can't have an excuse for not walking. If you can't spare half an hour, you surely can spare 10 - 15 minutes. Even a 10-minute walk to the bus stop or market, or a climb up and down the stairs will keep the meter running, so to say. The trick is to be at it whenever, wherever, rather than waiting for something ambitious.

Plan 3: Exercise

Needless to say, no weight loss program is really complete if an exercise routine has not been incorporated.

If you want to lose weight, cardiovascular exercise is a must.

If you haven't been exercising at all, start by walking a few blocks. Gradually increase the speed and the duration. Once you feel that you are ready, try jogging.

Jogging may seem overwhelming, especially if you have never jogged before. 43-year-old Sita had wanted to start jogging for a while, and would always say, "My aim is to be able to jog a round of this park without stopping." So her friend Latha one day said "Why don't you jog with me," and Sita said, "Oh no, I will not be able to jog at all. Maybe after some time, when I feel like I have enough stamina."

A month later, she met Latha again. When Latha asked her if she had started jogging, Sita admitted that she had not. Latha then said, "Look, why don't you jog with me, and don't set any target for yourself. Just jog as much as you can, and stop the minute you feel a little tired. It doesn't matter even if you jog two steps."

So, Sita agreed, and she jogged besides Latha for a minute before stopping. After that she made it a point to jog at least that distance everyday. Gradually, she increased the distance and, a few months later, she was able to jog an entire round of the park!

Set realistic goals for your exercise routine, or you will get disheartened. Sita's goal was not to straight away jog ten rounds of the park. Do this, and you will lose heart before long. Almost everyone tries to start jogging at some point or the other, and then they start detesting it and give it up. This is because they push themselves to breakpoint the very first day, and then just cannot sustain the pace.

The best thing to do would be to start very gradually. Jog until you can, and stop when you feel tired. The next time you go for a jog, aim to jog at least the same amount. If you very nearly killed yourself the first time round, the second time you will be able to reach the same distance with a great deal off difficulty, and will dread your jogging session the third time. Even if you do manage to push yourself, you will finally give up trying to equal your first time, and will consequently get disheartened. So, start gradually.

Aim to reach a level of vigorous exercise. Walking is a great exercise, it will help you lose some weight, and it will help prevent you from putting on more, but if you want to reap all the benefits of walking, make sure you walk at a brisk pace. The key is to increase your heartbeat.

Make your weight loss programme a priority and put it above everything else. Just like your job timings are inflexible, and you work all your other activities around your office schedule, so also make an exercise schedule and never waiver. If you have to go for a movie, buy tickets for a show after your workout, or don't go. If you have to meet friends for a drink after work, join them a little later, after completing your workout.

Remember, if make your exercise plan a priority you are saying to yourself that your body is more important than your entertainment - which is the way it should be. And, a few months down a line, your entertainment will be a lot more fun in your new body!

Finding Time to Exercise

One of the most difficult things for a mother, especially if she is working, is to find time to do something for herself. Exercise is often last on the list of priorities. Read on.

It doesn't matter if you are a working mother or not. If your job doesn't occupy most of your free time, your family and home will. All you seem to be doing is working at the office and then working at home. Naturally, any time you may get apart from errands like doing the groceries, paying the bill, organizing meals, picking up and dropping the kids, you'd like to spend just bonding with them, perhaps reading to them or playing with them. So when does that leave you with time for yourself?

Everyone talks about how Indian women often put on weight after marriage. This is because we don't have a deep-rooted exercise culture, and as a person grows older, it becomes more difficult to shed those calories. While things are changing now, and women are becoming more particular about exercise, the challenge now is to find time to work out.

Here are some suggestions:


A great idea to spend time with your children and to exercise would be to join a sport together. Go swimming. Or, when you send your child to tennis or badminton lessons, enroll yourself too. Although you may not actually play with them initially, you will be able to do so as they grow older. You will also enjoy watching them play. You can cheer them on, while they do the same to you. It does wonders for your bonding, and for your body!


Make it a point to watch what you eat. You may not be able to whip up fancy salads for every meal, but cut your calories in little ways. Skip desert. Don't keep sweets at home as they may be too tempting. Every time your kids feel like having desert, call for something that is just enough for them - so they are not being deprived due to your efforts at weight loss. Avoid taking diet pills and avoid unnatural therapies. They will only damage your health in the long run.


Invest in some exercise equipment that you can use at home. Buy a treadmill or an exer-cycle and keep it in the television room. This way you can watch television with the family while working out so your workout will seem like less of a chore. You could even take turns with your children by making it into a game. Time each other, see who can work-out for the longest time at a certain setting. Motivate your children or spouse, and in turn let them motivate you.


Perhaps your children are too young to work-out, too occupied with other activities to take up a sport with you at this stage, already fulfill their sports quota at school or are already playing a sport you have no interest in. Whatever the reason, if you cannot work out with your kids, don't feel guilty about taking some time out for yourself to go for a workout. This is something you must do for yourself, even if you need to drop everything or postpone other chores. Give it the highest, not lowest priority. You will start feeling healthier, start looking better and will ultimately be a positive influence on your children.

Exercising with Capoeira

Step into a new world of exercise with Capoeira. With its graceful fluid moves and acrobatics, this is a popular new way to stay fit.

The Origin of Capoeira

Instead of the boring routine of aerobics and callisthenics, try Capoeira as a form of exercise for a change. Capoeira is the Brazilian fighting dance whose origin can be traced back to the nineteenth century. It was invented by enslaved Africans who worked on Portuguese sugar plantations in Brazil.

Why Capoeira is different

Capoeira is easily distinguishable from other martial arts, as it emphasises fluid acrobatic sweeps, kicks, and head butts, with a lot of groundwork such as upside-down kicks, handstands, cartwheels, and rolls. Elbow-strikes, slaps, punches, and body-throws are rarer in this sport. In fact, the entire martial art form is more like a dance than any other traditional martial art. This is possibly due to the fact that the slaves had to camouflage their martial arts prowess from their captors. Traditionally a circle, called a roda, was formed around which participants would sing or play musical instruments. At the centre of this circle, two participants would spar with each other.

Capoeira as Exercise

As a form of exercise, Capoeira is a group exercise that will maximise your 'cardio' workout. It is a form of exercise that stresses on balance, flexibility, and strength. In an average two-hour session, you will rarely be sitting immobile for long.

Capoeira does not involve brute force. Instead, it is more about being inventive with the flow. A Capoeira exercise training session starts with a warm-up routine to stretch your muscles. The exercise can start with repeated kicks and falls, which will help in developing your thighs and abdomen and building your general stamina. This exercise progresses into more intricate and difficult dance sequences. The energetic kicks, ducks, and twists that make up Capoeira help to increase your agility, flexibility, fitness, strength, speed, and co-ordination.

The Music of Capoeira

Music is the key to any Capoeira session. Usually African music is played in the background to give it the traditional feel and recreate the conditions in which Capoeira was originally performed. Common musical accompaniments used are the tambourines or drums. The most important musical instrument for Capoeira is the berimbau. Made from wood, wire, and gourd, this instrument controls the entire tempo of the session.

The Capoeira Session

In a Capoeira session, when two opponents face off within the roda, there are no actual physical blows delivered. Hits are feigned or shown; none are actually carried through, so participants do not need to fear walking away with bruises after a session. Instead of actually trying to block attacks physically, opponents try to evade them. Capoeira is about creativity and spontaneity. Duellists try to be unpredictable as there are no set rules. Capoeira is more like a dance than a duel.

Basic Moves in Capoeira

The most basic stance in Capoeira is called ginga, which a person performs constantly in a triangular dance-like pattern. All the other steps of Capoeira build on from this basic step. Both feet are kept approximately a shoulder's width apart. One foot is slid backwards and then brought back again to the base and the second foot then is slid backwards. This motion allows the 'Capoeiristas' to lunge, squat, and then lunge again, allowing them to move around the roda quickly. This movement helps to keep the game unpredictable.

When Capoeira is adopted as a form of exercise, the traditional moves are sometimes modified slightly. Complex acrobatic moves are replaced with moves that are found in 'cardio' exercises and aerobics. This form of Capoeira is simpler than the traditional form, and is finding its way into gyms around the world. Capoeira helps in not only building muscles but also toning the entire body evenly. It is an excellent form of exercise and also a great way to make new friends.

Do you think that aerobic exercises are not effective enough? Have gyms become impersonal areas or are they the new social networking hub? Do you think exercise regimes work? If not, why? Have you ever seen Capoeira being performed? Do you think it would motivate you to exercise? To share your views and experiences, click here.

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