Healthy Twist – Alternative Medicine, Alternative Health

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Healthy Twist – Alternative Medicine, Alternative Health

Do you want to live longer? Are you looking for a way to combat stress and reduce tension? Do you want to increase your energy levels? If yes, then listen to you body.

For every minute of exercise that you perform now, you add one minute to the rest of your life. That’s a documented fact. Exercise and fitness are important because they keep people’s bodies – and minds – healthy. Without exercise, we wouldn’t be feeling or looking very good. Like most people, you probably realize that exercise is good for you. But, do you know why? There are lots of good reasons – you’ll have more energy, flexibility and strength. You’ll sleep better, be more alert and feel more relaxed. What’s more, your heart, lungs and muscles will become more efficient at the jobs they perform. Your heart is a muscle – the strongest in your body – therefore, needs exercise.

In fact, exercise makes your heart happy! One of the most hardworking organs in your body, it’s always looking to become even stronger!

“Since it can’t lift weights to get stronger, it relies on you to do it”, says Chris De Nil, recreation manager, Griffins Health Club, JW Marriott Hotel, Dubai.

Belgium – born Chris De Nil developed his love for sports and fitness in Johannesburg, South Africa.

From an early age, Chris has been passionate about fitness and has enjoyed a number of coaching roles in his professional career. He thoroughly enjoys fitness and weight training, and most of all, loves passing on his knowledge of fitness as a way of life to others whenever possible. A keen roadrunner and tri-athlete, he also enjoys all endurance sports.

“I have been in the UAE for four years now. The concept of fitness hasn’t changed much. What amazes me is the sedentary lifestyle of most people in Dubai. Imagine – you make a call and you get your groceries delivered.

“If we make excuses that we are too stressed out or too busy to exercise, then we need to take a hard look at not only our lifestyles but our attitudes as well. Those who think they have no time for physical exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness”.

Chris explodes some fitness myths:

You will burn more fat if you exercise longer at lower intensity .

Wrong. The most efficient way to burn fat is to combine intense training in short spurts with a nutritious diet. For example, 30 minutes of cycling, where you continuously vary your speed, intensity and pace, burns more calories than a slow 60-minute walk. And you will keep burning calories after you work out because your metabolism stays elevated for a few hours afterwards. It is all about the total calories you are burning or the total energy lost and is not the percentage of exercise energy coming from fat.

While exercising, you need to burn fats and carbohydrates together. You need to take short breaks t\between different forms of exercise so that you don’t feel fatigued. When you feel an elevated heart rate, you must lower the pace of your workout. Cross-training helps reduce risk of injuries. The more muscle groups you use, the more calories you burn.

If you are tried, forget about exercise because you just don’t have the energy.

Not true. Training will stimulate your metabolism and blood flow, helping you get rid of all that waste in your body. You need to combine this with correct food intake. This will make you feel you have more energy than before. Training provides you with more energy, motivating you for the next workout.

Exercise is a stress reliever. Avoid processed foods, saturated fat and foods with refined sugar. These foods lower your energy.

Fitness training for a beginner may seem like a hurdle initially. You may face muscle soreness, but relatively soon, you body adapts to your schedule and you feel more fit.

To lose weight, you need to skip meals and ignore your hunger pangs.

Absolutely untrue. When trying to lose weight, one of the main approaches is to increase the metabolic level which is possible only by having regular meals and exercise. Smaller, nutritious meals spread over the day give you a steady release of energy and increase your metabolism.

Starvation decreases your metabolic rate as your body decides on saving energy. So, ear smaller meals, but 5-6 times a day. You need four portions of carbs, proteins and vegetables every day. Remember, a portion is the size of your fist. For example, it could be a small chicken breast, a handful of brown rice and a cupful of salad.

When metabolism slows down, you body saves the calories consumed in the form of fat. So, to lose weight, the calories spent should be more than the calories consumed. Therefore, eat healthy to be healthy – and lose weight.

If your parents are fat, you will be fat, too.

A Partial myth. Your metabolism is 80 per cent dependant on your lifestyle. Children may become overweight if they have developed wrong eating habits, which may also be present in their parents. On very rare occasions, you may inherit certain hormonal or physical conditions that can cause obesity. However, quite often, your weight is a direct reflection of your lifestyle. So, a nutritious diet and regular exercise is the only route to getting fit.

Stop exercising and your muscle turns into fate.

Untrue. Muscle and fat are completely different. Muscle cannot turn to fat and vice-versa. When you stop training, your muscle atrophies and gets smaller and flabbier. When it comes to muscle, use it or lose it.

Food supplements and steroid injections are sure-fire means to a more muscled body.

True of the former. Though, you have to keep their consumption under control. A well-balanced diet along with a good training programme is vital in helping you become more fit. Nutritional supplements can help but before you buy any supplements, seek professional advice. Steroids, however, are a complete no-no.

If you want to lose weight, stay away from cardiovascular exercise as it makes your body bulky.

A myth. Weight training increases your muscle mass and since muscles need more energy to function, you burn more calories and eventually, your metabolism improves. If you can decrease your calorie intake while maintaining a nutritious diet, you body will start to lose fat. If you have a high muscle mass, you will burn calories even while sitting.

People who are out of shape, sweat more than those who are fit.

A myth. The rate of sweating varies from person to person and is directly related to the intensity of training and the environment in which you are exercising. Of course, if you are out of shape, your exertion level will increase sharply even with minimal increase in effort; therefore, you will sweat more than another person with a higher level of fitness performing the same activity. The intensity of the exercise is lower for him so he will sweat less, since sweating is linked with getting tired easily and faster. There is a possibility that sweating is considerably reduced in air-conditioned health clubs.

Heavy people have a harder time burning calories when they’re exercising.

Wrong. Heavy people tend to burn more calories when training. Running the same distance at the same speed, the heavier person will burn more calories.

Exercising to the point of feeling pain is the only way to improve your endurance.

Wrong. Listen to you body. If you feel pain, you are working too hard. If you get injured, stop until you are healed. Pain is often a sign of injury and should never be a goal. If you experience muscle soreness, stiffness or joint pain, stop. Pain signifies that your body is being caused harm. If you think that driving yourself to the limit will help you lose weight overnight, then you are grossly mistaken.

“I want to lose weight fast so I’ll wear an extra sweat suit while I jog”.

A myth. Weight lost through sweat while training will be regained once you drink water. The moment you feel thirsty, it means you are already dehydrated. Try to drink a small glass of water every 10-15 minutes while training. Never got to a point where you feel thirsty.

Don’t eat before working out.

Partly true. Exercising on an empty stomach does not affect how you lose weight. In fact, it may be a hindrance if you don’t have the energy to exercise. Have a glass of juice prior to your workout, especially when you are training in the morning. You can have a small snack, but not a full meal.

It’s better to workout in the morning.

A myth. Some people feel lethargic or tired at work if they have had an early morning workout. Others find exercising in the morning rejuvenating. So train when you feel comfortable doing so.

You have no time to workout.

So wrong! Lack of time is the most common excuse most people have for not exercising. I strongly feel that a fit body should be the hallmark for every human being. A healthy person can avoid common health problems like high blood pressure and elevated levels of cholesterol by following a basic fitness regime.

You don’t need to train six days a week for two hours a day. You can train for just three hours every week. This could be spread over 3-4 days. A good ratio of weight training twice a week and a cardio workout two to three times a week should be enough. Remember, a 30 minute quality workout at the right intensity is better than an hour of unplanned, low-intensity workout.

Increased energy levels, higher self-esteem, sharper mental focus and a decreased risk of a heart attack are strong motivators for you to include exercise in your weekly schedule. Make an appointment with your health – and honour it as you do other commitments.


Try to run at a higher elevation the next time you are on the treadmill – you will burn more calories.

  • Take the stairs instead of the lift.
  • Go on a brisk walk for at least 20 minutes a day.
  • End a cardio work out on a very high intensity. This way you will burn more calories even after you stop training.



This is partly ture. It all depends on where you feel comfortable training. Sometimes it is easier and more comfortable training at home. You do not need all the latest equipment to gain the benefits of training. You will train more often where and when you feel comfortable. However, enrolling yourself as a health club member offers various advantages. A certified fitness trainer can make the difference between working out day after day and not making any progress, to acquiring the body shape you have always dreamed of! You are not only supervised and kept informed of your progress, you are also motivated and inspired in a gym. Besides, watching others train alongside your keeps the desire to exercise alive.

At home, you may watch a fitness video, follow it as best as you can and yet not achieve results. Maybe you are taking the correct steps but you are not making the right movements for weight reduction in the right places.

Also, exercising at home may involve being distracted, keeping an uncertain timetable and perhaps even a lack of commitment. Joining a health club, on the other hand, is better motivation to exercise regularly.


Wrong. Theoretically, you could build abs of steel but if they are buried under a layer of fat, who’s to see them? To reduce body fat, you must consume fewer calories / increase your aerobic / weight train.

Further, there is no way to target fat on just one part of the body. While exercising, you don’t just lose weight in the right places. You lose weight all over. If 60 per cent of your excess weight is on the stomach, your regime should help you equalise the loss in the tummy area.


A myth. It’s not all about not eating fat, it’s about total calorie intake. Eat a well-balanced diet with carbs, protein and good fats within your required calorie intake. Low-fat diets tend to make people overeat and eating more food increases your calorie intake. The dangers of additional body fat are far greater than any potential benefits from less dietary fat.


True. Recent research has shown that water fitness programmes can be highly challenging and effective for both improving fitness and for losing weight. Some top athletes integrate water programmes in their training programmes. Swimming is very effective for people with spinal injuries. It is an ideal all-round exercise, good for general muscular and aerobic fitness. It is especially suitable for those who are overweight and have arthritic conditions. However elderly people should seek professional guidance for a fitness workout.

Running is the only aerobic exercise that fetches results.

False. Any type of aerobic exercise works. They all burn calories. Sometimes, it is better to alternate between any of the cardio-vascular exercises like rowing, cycling, stepping as they help prevent boredom and make you less prone to injuries than running. Only aerobic exercises help you lose weight.

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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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