Obesity and Exercise

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Obesity and Exercise

Man’s Creator had declared
“In the sweat of thy brow, shalt though eat bread.”

At one time walking was considered to be one of the very important exercises which never required a specific time in many people’s daily life. All religions advocate that people should attend morning prayers, pooja or namaz at their respective place of workship. People walked in groups almost regularly in the mornings before they started other activities of the day, some still do. They used to walk long distances to their work place, or traveled by bicycles.

Automation has modified the need for physical activities. Elevators, automobiles – two and four wheelers – and the like, have replaced walking, cycling and other natural exercises in our lives.
Walking and cycling, though tire a person while doing them, give much needed exercise and mental relaxation. Traveling by crowded buses and trains do not give exercise but only physical exertion and exhaustion. When two and for wheelers were rare, youngsters walked down to the marketplace for shopping and for other such chores but nowadays even a very young boy depends on two wheelers – bicycle or scooter, for going to even the nearest shop. When compared to two and four wheeler drives, a journey by bus or train is better because atleast a bit of walking is involved in it.

Aversion to physical exertion leads to mental exhaustion

Today we come across people who go for a walk in their cars! Yes, they drive to a specific place, mostly sea-shores, park the car there and walk on the sand for a few minutes, and get back into their car to return home, having completed their walking! This has actually happened in a family known to me, where both the husband and wife tried reducing through diet, and other activities, the husband by going for walking in the care has remained obese and more so, till date.

Physical exertion in house keeping has also tremendously reduced due to labour saving devices. But all this has not spared people from getting as tired as the older generation used to who did not have these facilities. They got tired because of their physical exertion. Any amount and all types of food they consumed were instantly converted to energy because of their labour consuming activities. Their overtired body regained freshness after a very sound sleep. Nowadays people experience tiredness which is nervous in origin and not physical. So the same type food is not converted to energy but fat. Absence of physical tiredness causes loss of sleep or disturbed sleep. This makes them more exhausted than ever.

Brain more active than body

Competition in every field has created a tendency towards more brain work than physical work for a large group of people. They consequently take up tension ridden jobs. Physical neglect caused by this is resulting in obesity in most cases.

Successful businessmen, politicians and other prominent bigwigs make use of their brain in excess of what their body can tolerate in order to stay in the limelight. When it happens to be their brain that needs energy, they eat for the body and not for the brain. Nourishing the body with very minimum or zero physical activity result in obesity. As they are always in a great hurry, the type of food these persons normally select is refined high calorie food that can be consumed quickly. Generally the more successful in society the person, the fatter he is.

There are other persons who exercise their brain more than their body. For instance, an educationist spending long hours in the library, a scientist doing research in the laboratory, an author writing books and the like. But these people mostly remain lean and never gain weight though they are not active physically. The difference between the former brain workers and the latter is that the latter unlike the former, eat only that type of foods which help them stay alert in body and mind. They avoid weight gaining food unlike the former who generally indulge in such food.

Gaining weight is more of a problem than losing it

The problem of gaining weight is more than the problem of losing it. Inspite of diet and exercise, some people keep gaining weight at a steady pace. Though thy may lose a few kilos initially, their steady weight gain never seems to stop. Health experts’ special reducing diet do help in losing weight, no doubt but they do not contribute anything towards stopping weight increase. The tendency to gain weight runs in some families. Such persons instead of thinking about reducing their weight, should try to think about how to stop gaining weight.

While on a low fat and low calorie diet, the body muscles should be exercised in proportion to the gaining of fat in the body or else the accumulated excess fat will not reduce even when the person fasts or starves and also the weight gain will not stop.

From childhood to adolescence and sometimes also to early adulthood, people are generally very active. That is why whatever they eat, converts to energy very quickly using the calories as fast as they eat and their muscles are solid and strong. An easy life with limited muscle activities, makes the muscles become less solid but more fatty. Fat replaces the unused muscles. So an extra effort as in rigorous exercises, or aerobic exercises is essential in order to meet the demand in expenditure of fat if one desires to lose weight.

All about aerobic and rigorous exercise

Though aerobic and rigorous exercises are recommended to lose weight, they are not without disadvantages in a long run.

In rigorous exercises there are three stages. First, when you take up a programme like aerobic exercise, spot reducing, weight lifting and the like, the first few days make you a bit tired. But by watching others do it with enthusiasm, you are encouraged to continue for a few more days. This is the second stage when you experience a well-being and regained strength. The third stage is when doing these exercises very regularly without break, limbs, joints an back start aching a bit, the body too becomes quickly tired. If you stick to it despite the tiredness, the pain slowly disappears. You continue to enjoy the exercise and its benefits. A stage comes when for some reasons you skip such exercises, you become restless unless you resume them. A dependence on these exercises as with drugs or food, slowly takes hold of you.

Addiction to exercise

Those who do rigorous exercises especially joggers and muscle builders become dependent and steadily addicted to their exercises at some stage. They do not realize that they are addicted to the exercises they do. This is because of the production of endorphine, a hormone which is a natural pain killer. The pain felt during the first few days of starting these exercises, disappears after some days because of the steady release of this pain killing hormone. The more rigorous the exercise, the more is the release of the hormone.

This hormone is likened to drugs like morphine. That is why joggers and others who do rigorous exercises cannot imagine missing a single day without their exercise. When they go jogging, running or do rigorous exercises every day, their body constantly releases this hormone in order to overcome the pain the exercise produces.

Day-by-day the person will need larger quantities of his own endorphins to keep his pain under control and thus he becomes addicted to his own drug. When due to any reason the person is no more exercising his muscles, he may be tempted to take this hormone externally in the form of strong drugs or id he stops exercising, he is not only depressed deeply but his muscles under the skin. Gradually the person becomes obese and is unlikely to be able to go in for the same exercise again.

This does not happen if simple exercise are undertaken for a long duration instead of hard exercises done over a short period. By changing the type of exercises you need not suffer any such difficulty.

Aerobic exercise does not mean that you should work your muscles strenuously to some tune played in a recorded as it is found in many health clubs. Aerobics is a system of exercising by means of rhythmic activities. These include walking, swimming, cycling, rowing, skating and many such activities. Even rope jumping is an aerobic exercise. The aim of such exercises is to improve fitness through increased oxygen consumption.

Dancing to a tune and exercising the muscles is not recommended for persons suffering from complicated health problems. One should select type of aerobic exercise that suits his need instead of doing exercises recklessly. Walking is the best aerobic exercise which even a heart patient can do. Most obese people do have at least some minor heart and lung ailments.

Spot reducing in obesity

Muscles is heavier than fat. Spot exercises develop muscles but does not remove fat. The fat itself must be converted into energy. In other works the body should be forced to burn its own fat for energy. Immobile cycling is one of the spot reducing programmes commonly practiced. There are motorized cycles too. The aim of this cycling is to reduce the thighs and hips. In this exercise the legs go up and down in pedaling motion. If cycling is aided by motor then it is the machine that does the job of pulling the legs up and down. This does not involve any effort of the individual to burn the fat. It just tightens the loose muscles and shapes legs.

Similarly electro vibrator too does not contribute much to burn or reduce fat. They act on the loose muscles of the abdomen and give shape to the body without influencing the fat. This type of spot reducing exercises are useful only for those who are not fat but whose muscles are not dense or solid. After spot reducing programmes, an obese person may feel that this legs and hip have developed the perfect shape. But he will find to his dismay that not a single pound of his excess fat is lost. Besides this an obese person will also feel more tired after these exercises. It is better to leave these spot reducing exercises alone if you wish to reduce. They are meant for shaping the body and toning the muscles, your problem is not muscles but fat which needs burning.

The nature of the body tissues undergoes a change when active exercise is engaged in. This also increases the volume of muscle. Unhindered activity suitable to an individual causes not just pleasure but has the effect of shedding weight. By switching from one to other type of exercise, you can avoid over-developing of some muscles at the cost of others.

When people exercise for fun and enjoy what they do or if they undertake yogic exercise which is more of relaxation combined with action exercise, its effect is tremendously felt even in reducing weight. Moreover walking and yogic exercises do not become and addiction. Such exercises even help maintain good health, especially when one leads a sedentary life.

If you wish to lose weight, do not exercise hard but do it for longer duration. Most of these exercises need a specific time to be fixed. The best suited time for walking is early morning before sunrise because that is the time when the air is free from any sort of pollution. Walking moderate for three miles per hour is good. One should practice cycling, horse riding, playing games, swimming, skating, etc. if possible.

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  • About The Author


    Gopakumar Nair belongs to a Hereditary Ayurvedic family of Kerala who were Practising Ayurveda and traditional Medicine for 200 Years . They can be traced back to over six generations. His experience under the guidance of his guru Valiya thampuraan has earned lot of trust and popularity.

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