FITNESS: An Overview
By: ASHU SETHI
In common parlance, Fitness is perceived in musculine body for men and lean looks for women. What we fail to understand is that Fitness is more than looks of human beings as well as animals. One should be able to carry out one’s daily tasks with vigour, agility and smartness without any fatigue for a considerable time and should also be able to pursue one’s interests in addition to one’s job. As a student one must concentrate on studies for securing good marks but physical and mental health is equally important to achieve the desired results. Not one, but, many kinds of fitness is required for the students to improve their stamina, concentration, memory power, focus, body structure and posture etc. The essentials of Fitness include the following:
Since all our organs are required to be at optimal level of performance every time, we need to pay attention to keep them healthy with a nutritious diet consisting of 50% of protein & Carbohydrates from bread, grains, pulses, rice etc, 20% of vitamins, minerals & roughage from fruits & vegetables, 20% of nutrition from dairy products, poultry & meat and 10% of nutrition consisting of fats from oil, ghee, sweet, butter, nuts etc. A water intake of 3-4 litres is required to convert this nutritious diet into energy which is required to maintain desired fitness level.
Alertness & quick response to stimuli, capacity to pick up or carry load, perform physical labour or activity, ability to sprint, run, jump etc are attributed to physical fitness of a body. To maintain a healthy body, each student needs to carry out the following physical activities on daily basis:
- Brisk Walking or Treadmill or Jogging or Cycling or Swimming for 30 minutes. This will strengthen your lungs and heart muscles and increase the blood flow (and the oxygen) to your organs thereby keeping them healthy and avoid diseases like heart failure, respiratory complications, diabetes etc.
- Stretching exercises for 15 minutes. These exercises make the body agile and flexible as the focus is on joints, ligaments and tendons. These are used to “warm up” the body and make it ready for further strenuous exercises.
- Muscle Strengthening exercises for 15 minutes. This will increase the load carrying capacity of the muscles over a period of time. The regular exercise will give more power to the limbs, develop endurance and will reduce the fatigue during working.
- Taking up Sports Activities for 30-60 minutes. This will increase overall stamina and make the body feel light. Most sports need strength in lower limbs, upper limbs, heart and lungs. A regular regime keeps the body healthy and mind calm as the energies of the body are channelized properly.
- Taking up YOGA for 30-60 minutes. Yogasanas has different exercises for different organs and parts of the body. Power Yoga and Surya Namaskar contain exercises for the whole body. Pranayam, Alom-Vilom and Kapaal-Bhati support the immune system, respiratory system and the nervous system thereby aid in well being of the whole body.
Intellect, memory, concentration, calmness, self esteem, reaction time in emergent conditions, managing stress, communicating with others, planning, organizing, decision making etc are attributed to mental fitness. The following activities should be undertaken to keep the mind healthy:
- Read extensively to exercise the brain. Develop interests and hobbies. Be alert on what is happening around you. Grasp the rules, guidelines of public authorities and be aware of your duties and rights so that the mind is able to take the right decision at the time of the need.
- Do Brain Exercises like solving a puzzle, playing board games, treasure hunt, crosswords, logic and reasoning games etc. Play question answer games.
- Do brainstorming exercises on various topics, take part in discussions and grill your mind to explore, examine and enquire more about the universe and beyond.
- Tease the brain to find new ways of doing a task. Learn some new skill or language or learn to cook new dishes, learn to play a musical instrument etc for brain’s work out.
- Relax the brain by spending quality time with family and friends. Tell or listen to stories. Plan an outing in nature for 2-3 days in a month to relax the mind and the body.
- Meditate for at least 5-10 minutes daily to smoothe and calm down the brain muscles. This will energize the inherant energies of the body and develop the brain capacities in long run.
Turning a “couch potato” into a “fitness freak” is not easy. It needs a lot of discipline, attitude, guts and confidence to come out of your comfortable zone to enjoy a healthy living. Once the habit of being fit is developed, a healthy life is ensured in future. While Fitness may be motivating, the enthusiasts should consider the following precautions:
- Light exercises may be undertaken after 1 hour and rigorous exercises after 2 hours of meal.
- Fruit juice, plain water, lemon water may be gulped in small sips during exercises.
- Start with low numbers and increase repeatations subsequently.
- Consult your doctor if you are with a medical condition.
- Learn the exercises under the guidance of trained personnel.
- Skip your fitness routine 1-2 times a week to give rest to your muscles.
- Maintain the company of people who are interested in being Fit and plan your Fitness routine with them.
- School children should avoid lifting heavy weights.
Therefore, it can be summarized that Fitness needs a holistic approach involving physical activities, mental workouts and nutritious diet to have a healthy life. A healthy life ensures peaceful and harmonious relationship with the surroundings in the ecosystem.