How to Choose a Right Gym and Gym Workout by Yashmeen Manak Sculpt Gym Gurgaon

December 19, 2010 at 1:05 pm • Posted in ResourcesNo comments yet


A gymnasium or gym is a structured and fully equipped place for an individual to fulfill his / her fitness goals. A good gymnasium provides with all the necessary tools and equipments one needs for exercising along with a qualified fitness instructor. Qualified fitness instructors are very well versed with the science of exercise and can guide you through a safe and effective workout regime. Many gyms offer the facility of a personal trainer. This is expensive but worth it, as you get to train under the constant eye of an expert and you get sure shot results.

Working out in a gym also gives you motivation. When you see your fellow gym-members pushing themselves hard, you get encouraged and adhere to your routine even if you want to give up. You make some good friends and workout buddies too.

What to look for in a Gym?

1.    Size of the gym

A gym should neither be too small in size nor too big. In a gym which is too small, you will have to wait for your turn on the equipments and that way you cannot keep up the rhythm of your workout. If a gym is too big, you will feel isolated and the idea of working out in a motivating gym environment will not be fulfilled. You may feel de-motivated not seeing enough people around.

2.    Proximity

Always choose a decent gym close to your house or workplace. This will ensure regularity with your workouts.

3.    Fitness Instructors

The fitness instructors or personal trainers provided by a gym should be presentable and well groomed. They should be certified by a renowned organization. Talk to the trainers and do not hesitate to ask about their qualifications.

4.    Equipment and Facilities

A gym should have separate sections for aerobic activities and weight training with enough space. In the cardio-respiratory section, the least a gymnasium should have is treadmills, elliptical trainers & a range of stationary bikes. The weight training area should consist of weight machines, cable set-up, various benches and a range of free weights like dumbbells, barbells, weight plates and ankle weights. Medicine balls and Swiss balls can provide an additional benefit. There should be a change room & locker facility also. If you want to leave for your office after your exercise session directly from the gym, make sure the gym has a shower facility.

5.    Ambience

Do not get attracted to too fancy a stuff. Remember! You just want a good workout and move out. The gym ambience should be clean, tidy, air conditioned and well ventilated. Lighting should be good and another very important aspect is good music. Good music keeps you going in the gym. The gym you choose should provide you with an environment which helps to energize and motivate your workouts. It is important that the overall environment makes you feel comfortable and in the mood for a good work.

Cautions to be observed before starting an exercise routine

  1. Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise routine especially if you are already suffering from a disease.
  2. Disclose your medical ailments or recent surgery, if any, to the fitness instructor.
  3. Do not exercise when you have fever or flu. Exercising in fever or flu will make your condition worse and spread infection to other members.
  4. Always listen to the trainer. Learn the right way to do the exercises. This reduces the risk of injury and you get positive results.
  5. Do not exercise when injured. Consult a sports injury specialist and strictly follow his instructions.
  6. When lifting weights, especially free weights, always make sure you are under the supervision of a spotter. A spotter is a person who helps you out with your lifting and lowering the weights in the correct way and ensures that you exercise safely.
  7. Hydration is very important before, during and after the exercise. You lose a lot of water & important body salts in the form of sweat and hence it is very important to replenish them. Keep sipping water every 15 to 20 minutes during the exercise. However, if you plan to workout for more than an hour, you may carry some sports drink as well. Consume 400 to 500 ml of water at least an hour before exercise to allow for excretion before exercise. Consume 450 to 600 ml of water after exercise to replace the lost water weight. Individuals will vary in terms of how much water drinking they are comfortable with.
  8. Leave your cell phones at home or keep them in the locker. You should never talk on the phone while working out as it may prove hazardous to yourself besides disturbing your fellows.


  1. Gym shoes or cross training shoes & socks.
  2. Appropriate workout gear.
  3. Hand gloves.
  4. Hand towel.
  5. Water bottle or sports drink.

Types of exercises

a.    Cardiovascular Exercises

Cardiovascular exercises are performed on equipments like the treadmill, elliptical trainer, stationary bike, rowing machine, etc. Apart from these, many gyms offer aerobic classes as well.

b.    Flexibility Exercises

Flexibility is defined as the degree to which a joint moves throughout a normal and pain free range of motion. It is important to have a certain amount of flexibility fitness to move smoothly, avoid muscle tension and to protect the body from injury.

Stretching and yoga exercises help to keep the body flexible. Any good gym provides free space for stretching and yoga activities.

c.    Strength Training Exercises

Strength training or weight training exercises are done on the weight machines and with free weights. There are a variety of exercises for every muscle in our body. When you train with weights, you challenge your muscles to work against the extra resistance which they are not used to. This strengthens them and increases the amount of muscle mass in your body. Weight training reduces body fat, sculpts your body & makes it tight and toned. The bones become stronger and this reduces the risk of Osteoporosis. Although it is suggested to start early (after puberty or early twenties), benefits of strength training for men & women can be achieved at any age.

There is plethora of resistance / weight training exercises for all the body parts but here are a few basic ones, which are perfect to start with, for all healthy adults. For safe & effective execution of every exercise, focus on the right posture & technique and build up gradually. Always inhale before you start the movement & exhale as you make effort.

Arms (Biceps, Triceps, Forearms)


a.    Seated Dumbbell Curls

-       Sit on a bench with the torso upright, knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

-       Hold a dumbbell in each hand with the arms hanging down by the sides and the palms facing inside.

-       Curl one arm, bending at the elbow and rotate the palm while curling upwards so that it faces the shoulder.

-       Contract the biceps fully and then uncurl and extend the arm back to the starting position.

-       Repeat on the other arm.

Variation: This exercise can also be done in a standing position, single arm at a time or both arms together.

b.    Barbell Curls

-       Stand with the feet shoulder width apart and knees soft (Slightly bent).

-       Keep the torso upright, abdominal & hip muscles contracted to stabilize the position and avoid using momentum (swinging the body to lift weight up).

-       Grasp a barbell to the front of the body with an underhand grip (knuckles facing the body and small fingers facing each other) and hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart.

-       Curl the barbell up towards the shoulders, feel the contraction in the biceps and slowly lower the bar back  to the initial position.

Variation: This exercise can also be done with a narrow grip i.e. hands shoulder width apart with the elbows touching the waist on both sides

c.    Hammer Curl

This exercise works the forearms also along with the biceps.

-       Stand or sit holding a dumbbell in each hand with the palms facing inside.

-       Curl the dumbbells up until the thumbs are close to the shoulders on both sides.

-       Pause for a second and slowly return to the starting position.


a.    Cable press down

-       Stand facing the cable. Grasp the handle with an overhand grip (palms facing the body & thumbs facing each other) at chest level. Hands shoulder width apart and elbows bent at the waist.

-       Press down the handle till it reaches the thighs.

-       Feel the contraction in the triceps on full arm extension and then return to the starting position.

b.    Single-arm overhead extensions

-       Sit or stand holding a dumbbell in one hand with the elbow bent behind the head and the lower end of the dumbbell slightly touching he neck.

-       Extend the arm up towards the ceiling till it becomes vertical & lower down to the starting position.

Note: Do not lock out the elbow joint with a jerk as you extend your arm upwards.


a.    Reverse curls

-       Stand with the legs shoulder width apart, knees soft and arms extended to the front of the body, holding a barbell with an overhand grip. Hands should be shoulder width apart.

-       Curl the barbell up till the knuckles face the shoulders close enough and then return to the starting position.

b.    Wrist curls

-       Sit on the knees on a carpeted floor with the forearms resting on a bench.

-       Grasp a barbell with an underhand grip and keeping the forearms fixed on the bench, curl the wrist upwards and then slowly uncurl.

c.    Wrist extension

-       Sit on the knees on a carpeted floor with the forearms resting on the bench.

-       Grasp a barbell with an overhand grip and raise it by extending the wrists so that the knuckles curl upwards.


a.    Overhead dumbbell presses

-       Stand with the feet shoulder width apart and torso upright.

-       Hold a dumbbell in each hand just above the shoulders with the palms facing the front.

-       Press the dumbbells up towards the ceiling till the arms extend fully and are parallel to each other.

-       Feel the work in the shoulders and then slowly return back.

b.    Lateral raises

-       Stand with the arms hanging by the sides holding a dumbbell in each hand.

-       Keeping the elbows slightly bent, raise both arms to the sides till they are parallel to the floor and then slowly return to the starting.

c.    Bent over lateral raises

-       Stand with the feet slightly wider than the shoulder-width and knees bent. Bend over from the hip so that the torso becomes parallel to the floor.

-       Make sure to keep the abdominal and back muscles contracted to stabilize the position and maintain a flat back.

-       Hold dumbbells in both hands downwards at arm’s length with palms facing each other.

-       Keeping elbows soft, raise arms to the sides till they are horizontal & parallel to the floor.


a.    Push ups

-       Place yourself face down with the palms on the floor. Place the palms wider than the shoulder-width, arms extended, legs straight and feet together or slightly apart.

-       Keep the neck, back & hips aligned and abdominals contracted. Do not arch the back downwards or upwards. Keep it flat like a table top.

-       Bend the elbows outwards and bring the chest close to the floor. This is the initial position.

-       Push back upwards till the arms extend completely and feel the contraction in the chest muscles.

b.    Bench Press

-       Lie down on the back on a flat bench with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

-       Grasp a barbell with an overhand grip wider than shoulder width.

-       Lower the bar to the middle to the chest by bending the elbows outwards. This is the starting position.

-       Extend the arms and press the barbell up at arm’s length.

Note: Keep the back pressed against the bench while pressing the barbell up.

c.    Pec Deck Flys

-       Sit on a Pec Deck machine with the arms open and bent at 90 degrees to the sides. Rest the forearms on the pads and hold the handles with the hands.

-       Keeping the forearms & hands fixed and relaxed, use the power of the chest muscles and bring both the handles towards each other till they meet in front of the nose.

-       Slowly return to starting position.

Back (Upper back & lower back)

Upper back

a.    Lat pull downs

-       Sit facing the machine with the knees placed under the pads.

-       Hold the handle with an overhand grip with the hands wider than the shoulder width, arms extended in a V-shape.

-       Pull the handle down so that it touches the upper chest. As you pull down, expand the chest while leaning slightly back with the torso.

-       The elbows lead downwards & backwards during the movement till your hands reach the level of your armpits.

b.    Seated Rows

-       Sit facing the machine, knees bent, feet against the foot pad and torso slightly bent forward.

-       Hold the handles with palms facing each other and pull so that it touches the abdomen, above the naval and below the chest.

-       While pulling down the handle, straighten the back pulling the elbows back as far as possible & letting the back muscles contract fully.

-       Slowly return to the starting position.

Note: Never round the back while performing seated rows with  heavy weights to prevent back injury.

c.    Dumbbell Shrugs

-       Stand with the legs slightly apart and arms extended downwards holding a dumbbell in each hand with the palms facing inside.

-       Keep the head upright or slightly tilted forward.

-       Without bending the elbow, shrug the shoulders forward & upwards towards the earlobes and then backwards & downwards to the starting position.

Variation: Shrug the shoulders up towards the ear lobes & slowly go down to the starting position.

Lower Back


-       Lie face down on an exercise or yoga mat with the legs straight and feet fixed on the floor.

-       Interlock the fingers and keep both hands, with palms facing down, against the forehead.

-       Keeping the arms & shoulders relaxed, use the lower back muscles to raise the torso off the floor.

Note:  Avoid jerky movements and raise the upper body slowly under control.


a.    The basic crunch

-       Lie on the back on an exercise or yoga mat the  hands behind the head, knees bent, feet flat and slightly apart on the floor.

-       Using the abdominal muscles (by contracting them), raise the shoulders off the floor. While going up, round the back and roll the spine upwards.

-       Slowly come down to the initial position.

Note:  Do not push the head with the hands and do not try to go up with jerky movements. Keep the chin tucked in but do not let it dig into the chest.

b.    Reverse Crunch

-       Lie on the back with the arms extended downwards towards the feet and palms on the floor.

-       Place the hands under the lower back & hip. Legs bent at 90 degrees up in the air.

-       Using the abdominal muscles .i.e. contracting them, roll the spine & the hips upwards so that the knees come towards the face.

-       Slowly go down without changing the angle of the legs.

Note:  Do not extend the legs while  lifting the hips off the floor. Keep the knees together & the legs strictly bent at 90 degrees.

c.    Side lying shoulder & double leg raise

-       Lie on the side with the legs extended & the body in a straight line.

-       Extend the lower arm so that it is perpendicular to the body. Palm  the hand should face the floor.

-       Keep the upper arm by the side aligned with the body.

-       Balance & slowly raise the lower shoulder (the one touching the floor) & both the legs off the floor simultaneously. This works the side (waist) facing upwards.  Come down slowly.

-       After completing a set of certain repetitions, repeat the procedure on the other side.

Legs & Buttocks

a.    Dumbbell squats

-       Stand with the feet shoulder width apart, arms hanging down by the sides, holding a dumbbell in each hand.

-       Look straight ahead and keeping the abdominals contracted arch the back slightly outwards while bending the knees and lower the hips towards the floor.

-       Stop when the thighs reach horizontal, extend the knees and return to the standing position.

Note:  Do not let the knees cross the toes in the sitting position. Keep looking straight & maintain a slight concave arch in the back. Never round the back.

b.    Leg extension

-       Sit on the leg extension machine and grasp the handles to stabilize the torso.

-       Bend the knees and place the ankles under the ankle pads.

-       Using the front thigh muscles, extend (straighten) the legs so that they are parallel to the floor.

-       Slowly return back to starting position.

c.    Lying leg curls

-       Lie face down on the leg curl machine holding the handles, legs straight and ankles fixed under the ankle pads.

-       Using the back thigh muscles, curl the legs trying to touch the hips with the heels.

-       Slowly uncurl.

Note:  Keep the toes pointed away from the body.

d.    Cable back kicks

-       Stand on one leg facing the cable machine and the other leg attached to the ankle strap of the low pulley.

-       Keep the pelvis tilted forward and grasp the handle to stabilize the position.

-       Extend the hip and pull the leg back and then slowly return to the starting position.

Note:  Hip extension is limited so do not try to go overboard. Do the movement slowly and in control to feel the work better.


a.    Standing calf raises

-       Stand on a platform with the feet slightly apart, holding on to a bar for support. Keep the torso upright and legs straight.

-       Raise the heels by planting the toes into the platform.

-       Pause for a moment and then slowly lower the heels down slightly below the edge of the platform.

Exercise Prescription for Special Population, By Yashmeen Manak

January 3, 2010 at 8:47 pm • Posted in Resources2 Comments

Special Population ( People suffering from diseases like Hypertension, Coronary Artery Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Arthritis & Osteoporosis)

Exercise & Diseases

 Exercise can prevent diseases.

 By now we all acknowledge that exercise is a necessary tool which helps in improving health, prevents diseases and hence decrease health care costs. Exercise has beneficial effects on almost all organ systems of our body ensuring better functioning and preventing a wide range of diseases.

 Regular exercise improves health by:

 -       Reducing the risk of dying prematurely from diseases.

-       Reducing the risk of developing diabetes, Hypertension and other heart related diseases.

-       Reducing the risk of colon, breast and prostate cancers.

-       Helping maintain a healthy weight and develop a positive body image.

-       Helping build and maintain strong bones and muscles and thus healthy joints.

-       Helping older people with better functional independence i.e. being able to perform their daily tasks with ease and reducing incidences of falls by making their bodies stronger.

-       Reducing risk of osteoporosis which is a brittle bone disease.

-       Improving immune system (body’s internal system which fights diseases).

-       Reducing feelings of depression and anxiety and enhancing sense of well being.

 Exercise can control diseases

Various diseases such as hypertension or high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, obesity, osteoporosis etc. can be controlled with exercise, medication and proper nutritional care. Thus, an active disease ridden individual can live a better life and has a lower mortality (death) rate than a sedentary disease ridden person.

Benefits of exercise on various diseases:   

1.   Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) 

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) or Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is a medical condition in which plaque builds up inside the arteries which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle.

Fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances present in the blood leads to the formation of plaque. Plaque reduces the oxygen-rich blood flow to the heart muscle by narrowing the arteries which can cause angina (chest pain) or a heart-attack.

CAD is a very common heart disease and a leading cause of death all over the world. There are various risk factors for this disease which are all interconnected but can be modified with exercise.

1)    Cigarette Smoking: Smoking tobacco increases the risk of CAD. Smokers are at a greater risk for heart disease than non smokers. With regular physical activity, smokers are likely to cut down or stop the habit. The risk of heart disease decreases within a year of smoking cessation along with regular exercise.

2)    Hypertension: The risk of heart disease increases with an increase in blood pressure. Systolic BP>= 140 mmHg or Diastolic >=90 mmHg is a risk factor. During exercise, the heart muscle is forced to beat faster to keep up with the body’s oxygen demands. This makes it stronger. The blood vessels which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart also become flexible and are better able to dilate (expand) enhancing blood vessel function and lowering the chances of hypertension. There is an approximate reduction of 10 mmHg in both, Systolic & Diastolic BP in people with mild to moderate hypertension, if they exercise regularly.

3)    Dyslipidemia: This refers to abnormalities in blood lipid and lipoprotein concentrations. CAD risk increases if low density lipoprotein (LDL), which is bad cholesterol is greater than 130 mg/dl or High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL), which is a good cholesterol is less than 40 mg/dl or if total cholesterol is greater than 200 mg/dl. Exercise raises HDL and when combined with a nutritious low fat diet, it lowers the LDL.   

4)    Diabetes Mellitus (DM): (DM is explained in the articles that will follow). If your fasting blood glucose is greater than or equal to 100 mg/dl, you are at CAD risk. Exercise has an insulin like effect which enhances the utilization of Glucose even in the absence of sufficient insulin. Physical activity decreases insulin requirements for people with diabetes. Thus it improves insulin sensitivity and glucose utilization in the body in people with type 1 DM. Exercise enhances fat loss in people with type 2 DM along with improved insulin sensitivity & glucose utilization. Exercise also help burn excess fat and keep a check on your weight. People with a healthy weight are less likely to develop diabetes.

5)    Obesity: Being overweight or obese has a direct relationship with all other risk factors of CAD. The risk is greater in people with a lot of fat on the abdomen. A waist circumference greater than 40 inches for men and greater than 35 inches for women or Body Mass Index (BMI) > 30 kg/m2 (Weight in kg divided by height in meter square) or Waist to Hip Ratio (WHR) >= 0.95 in men and >=0.86 in women represent obesity. Exercise helps in burning excess calories. With regular exercise, there is a reduction in overall body fat. Decreased abdominal fat reduces the risk factors for CAD, including dyslipidemia, type 2 DM and hypertension. A combination of diet and exercise is the only way to lose excess body fat & maintain a healthy weight.

6)    Sedentary lifestyle: People who do not participate in a regular exercise program for at least 30 minutes or more on most days of the week, carry a risk of CAD. Sedentary lifestyle triggers other risk factors for CAD.

People diagnosed with CAD still have bright chances to control the disease if they start exercising as advised by their doctor. Exercise reduces mortality in people with CAD.

“It is the position of the American College of Sports Medicine that most patients with coronary artery disease should engage in individually designed exercise programs to achieve optimal physical and emotional health. The exercise programs should be modified as indicated by the patient’s cardiovascular and general medical status.”

Exercise prescription for CAD Patients

A)        Aerobic or Cardiovascular exercises


Walking, Jogging, Cycling, Swimming, Group Aerobics and Rowing.


Moderate intensity of 40% to 70% of HRR (Heart Rate Reserve).

HRR = [(MHR – RHR) x Training Percentage i.e. 40% to 70%] + RHR

MHR: Maximal Heart Rate = (220 – Age)

RHR: Resting Heart Rate = Your Heart Beat in a minute calculated early morning before getting out of bed.

HRR is a method to determine the heart rate at which an individual should be doing an aerobic activity. To know your individual heart rate, you will have to consult your doctor or a qualified fitness professional. 


3 to 5 days per week.


Start with a 5 to 10 min warm up including stretching exercises followed by a 20 to 40 minutes of continuous aerobic activity and a cool down of another 5 to 10 minutes.

B)        Resistance Training:

2 times a week consisting of 10 to 12 exercises for the entire body with 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.


2.   Hypertension 

Hypertension is commonly known as high blood pressure. Blood pressure (BP) refers to the pressure of blood which is forced on the inside walls of the blood vessels with every heart beat. The average resting BP is 120 mmHg (Systolic) / 80 mmHg (Diastolic) but when this force exerted by blood is equal to or exceeds 140mm Hg or 90 mm Hg,  it is considered high and abnormal and the medical condition is called Hypertension. Hypertension is a heart disease and it increases the possibility of having a heart attack. It is clustered with other risk factors associated with heart disease (example Dyslipidemia, obesity, diabetes). Most of the people with hypertension fall into the moderate or high-risk category for heart diseases.

Exercise can control hypertension by strengthening the heart muscle, increasing the heart’s working capacity, improving blood flow & hence lowering blood pressure. It also helps in decreasing body fat which is one of the causes of high blood pressure. Most individuals have a mild to moderate increases in BP which can be controlled by following an exercise regime, losing excess body fat, reducing salt intake and eating a healthful diet. Exercise reduces the BP by approximately 10 mmHg, both systolic and diastolic, in people with mild to moderate hypertension.

If the BP is very high, say 160/100 or above, medical treatment should be the first step. Once the BP is under control with medications, exercise can decrease it further. In any case, it is always important to consult a doctor.

Exercise prescription for Hypertension Patients

A)        Aerobic or Cardiovascular exercises


Brisk walking – treadmill or outdoors, cycling – stationary or outdoors, swimming.


At a moderate intensity of 40% to 70% of HRR(Heart Rate Reserve).


Minimum 3 to preferably 7 days a week.


30 to 60 minutes. You may do it in parts of 3 sessions of 20 minutes or multiple bouts of short duration (10 to 15 minutes) throughout the day.

B)        Resistance Training:

Weight training should be done twice a week. Light weights with more repetitions is suggested.


Avoid isometric exercises, i.e. where you have to hold or pause for a few seconds and avoid Valsalva maneuvers (holding the breath while weight training or any other exercise).


3.   Diabetes Mellitus (DM) 

Diabetes Mellitus is commonly known as Diabetes. It is a group of metabolic diseases which disrupts normal metabolism, i.e. the process of converting food to glucose (energy) on a cellular level. It results when the body does not produce enough insulin or if it does, the body cells fail to efficiently respond to insulin. 

Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas (a large gland behind the stomach) in our body when we eat food. Its function is to help the body cells use sugar in the form of glucose for energy. This sugar in the blood comes from food and fluids (except water). When we eat food, the pancreas produces the required amount of insulin to stimulate the cells so that they absorb glucose from the blood and store it in the form of glycogen for growth and energy. In people with diabetes, the pancreas either produce insufficient or no insulin at all or if enough insulin is produced, the cells fail to respond appropriately. Thus excess glucose builds up in the blood.

A fasting blood glucose of 126 mg/dl or greater indicates diabetes.

There are three types of diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes: In this condition, the pancreas produce very little or no insulin at all. An individual with type 1 diabetes will have to inject insulin everyday.

Type 2 diabetes: This is the most common type of diabetes in which the pancreas produces enough insulin but for some reasons the body cells resist to respond to this insulin. This is called Insulin resistance. Thus excess glucose builds up in the blood because the body is not able to use it as fuel.

Obese people are at a greater risk for type 2 diabetes. Extra fat around the mid-section (abdomen) increases the risk of developing resistance to insulin.

Type 3, Gestational Diabetes: This type of diabetes develops during pregnancy. Usually it disappears after child birth but there are chances that a woman, who had gestational diabetes, develops type 2 diabetes sooner or later in life.

Diabetes affects almost every part of the body. It often leads to vision disturbances (blindness), cardiovascular disease (heart & blood vessel disease), stroke (loss of brain function due to lack of oxygen-rich blood), kidney failure & nerve damage. It can complicate pregnancy and lead to birth defects in a child. The treatment for diabetes involves medication, healthy diet and regular exercise as advised by the doctor.

During exercise, the muscles use sugar from the blood for energy thus bringing down the blood sugar level. The amount of blood sugar level reduced depends upon the duration (how long) and intensity (how hard) of exercise. Regular exercise helps burn body fat in obese people and hence reduces their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A well planned exercise regime lowers blood sugar by improving insulin sensitivity. It reduces insulin resistance by helping the cells accept insulin efficiently. It improves blood circulation, strengthens heart & lungs, control blood pressure and maintains a healthy weight. All this decreases the risk of diabetes-related complications.     

Exercise prescription for Diabetes

A)        Aerobic or Cardiovascular exercises


Brisk Walking, Jogging, Cycling, Swimming & Group Aerobics.


50% to 80% of HRR (Heart Rate Reserve).


3 to 7 days per week. Daily exercise will help more in controlling glucose levels.


20 to 60 minutes.

B)        Resistance Training:

Train with weights for a minimum of 2 times a week with a gap of at least 48 hours between sessions. Light weights with more repetitions are suggested. Start with 10 to 15 repetitions and then progress to 15 to 20 repetitions.

Special Considerations:

  1. Glucose levels should be monitored pre and post exercise.
  2. An individual should not exercise if fasting glucose level is greater than 250 mg/dl.
  3. Insulin should not be injected into exercising muscle. Injection in the abdomen is recommended.
  4. Hypoglycemia (Low blood sugar levels or a rapid drop in glucose) is common condition for people with diabetes who exercise. They should check with their doctor for signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia pre and post exercise.


4.   Arthritis 

Arthritis is a disease characterized by stiffness, inflammation, pain and loss of joint function. The range of movement at the affected joints gets restricted leading to a less active lifestyle. This in turn causes muscle weakness and fatigue and hence loss of functional independence for an arthritic patient.

The primary goal of an individual suffering from arthritis should be to improve the ability to perform normal daily activities without undue fatigue and pain, improve cardiovascular & muscular fitness, improve joint mobility and flexibility and decrease pain and swelling.

Exercise is possible and highly beneficial for the treatment of arthritis. It is also a cost effective alternative to medication and surgery. Regular exercise strengthens the muscles around joints. It lubricates the joints and reduces pain and stiffness. Exercise also helps to enhance endurance (stamina), fat loss and facilitate long term weight maintenance in arthritic patients who are overweight. Always remember to start slowly and consult your doctor before participating in any exercise plan.

Exercise prescription for Arthritis

A)        Aerobic exercise


Brisk Walking, Cycling, Swimming & Rowing.


50% to 85% of HRR (Heart Rate Reserve).


3 to 5 days a week.


30 to 60 minutes.

Start with a 5 to 10 minutes warm up preceding the 30 to 60 minutes endurance phase, succeeding by a 5 to 10 minutes cool down.

B)        Resistance Training:

Begin with a 5 to 10 min warm up including stretches for all the major joints. The resistance training program should incorporate exercises for all the major muscle groups and not just those supporting the arthritis affected joints.


Free weights, Nautilus (machine weights), Elastic bands, Isometric exercises (Exercises in which you have to hold a position for a few seconds).


The intensity should be personalized to suit the individual’s need & abilities and will vary between individual.


2 to 3 days per week with a gap of 24 to 48 hours for recovery.


30 to 60 minutes (will vary between individuals).

C)        Flexibility Training:

Flexibility exercises (stretching exercises) should be performed one to two times daily. These exercises should induce static stretches held for 15 to 30 seconds. The index of intensity should be a pain free range of motion at the joints.

As with any exercise training, flexibility exercises should also be preceded with an adequate warm up to increase internal body temperature and blood circulation which leads to an efficient exercise session.

D)        Special Considerations:

  1. In any single exercise session, proceed from flexibility exercises to strength training to aerobic exercise.
  2. Functional activities such as climbing stairs, sit to stand, should be done daily.
  3. Exercise should be avoided during an arthritic flare-up.
  4. High impact exercises like jumping,running,which may stress the affected joints should be avoided.
  5. Avoid high repetition, high resistance and weight training exercises that may cause increased joint pain.
  6. Do not overstretch unstable joints. During a stretching session, bouncing style stretches (stretches where the speed of movement is uncontrolled) should be strictly avoided.


5.   Osteoporosis 

Osteoporosis is a brittle bone disease characterized by an abnormal loss of bone tissue leading to fragile porous bones. When bones lose density, they are prone to fractures even with minimal trauma and from lifting and bending impacts. The common sites for bone loss are spine, hips and wrists. Osteoporosis is most common in women, especially post menopause, but it can also affect men as they age. Major causes of this disease are an undernourished diet low in calcium and vitamin D and lack of exercise.

Exercise, at any age, helps in building and maintaining bone density. Osteoporosis can be prevented by a combination of certain nutrients (calcium and vitamin D) from a well balanced diet and a regular exercise regime started early in life. However, after adulthood also it is not too late to start. Weight bearing exercises stimulate bone formation and retain calcium in the bones that bear the load. During weight bearing exercises, the force of muscles pulling against bones stimulate the bone building process thus strengthening that bone. It is important to note that bone strengthening is site specific, i.e. if you weight train your legs, the bones of the legs only will strengthen and if you load your upper body with weight exercises, you will strengthen the related bones only. Exercise increases balance, coordination and muscle strength, which decreases the likelihood of falls in the elderly.

At present, there is no known cure for osteoporosis but medicinal treatment combined with an exercise regime can slow down and even reverse its effect. Weight bearing exercises are the most effective in the treatment of osteoporosis but certain exercises may be harmful in advanced osteoporosis. Thus, physician’s approval is warranted prior to beginning any exercise routine. 

Exercise prescription for Osteoporosis

A)        Aerobic exercise


Walking, Cycling, aquatic exercises (exercises in the swimming pool).


40% to 70% of HRR (Heart Rate Reserve).


3 to 5 days a week.


20 to 60 minutes, continuous or intermittent.

B)        Resistance Training:

Weight training for all the major joints as well as affected bones should be done for twice or thrice a week. Two to three sets of each exercise and 8 to 10 repetitions for every set are recommended. Intensity will vary between individuals and their respective case history.

Specific exercises focusing on balance and coordination should also be included. Functional exercises that mimic activities of daily living (chair sit and stand, vigorous walking) should be performed for two to five days a week.

 C)        Flexibility Training:

Stretching exercises should be performed 5 to 7 days a week. Static stretches (holding a position gently) are recommended.

D)        Special Considerations:

  1. Explosive movements and high impact loading exercises such as jumping, sprinting, running, jogging should not be performed.
  2. Patients severely limited by pain should not exercise and consult the doctor.
  3. Excessive forward bending and twisting of the spine is contraindicated as it increases the risk of spinal fracture.
  4. Daily activities such as sitting and bending forward to pick up objects can lead to spinal fractures in advanced osteoporosis.

Losing Pregnancy Weight and to be a fit mom, by Yashmeen Manak

October 8, 2009 at 1:06 am • Posted in Resources1 Comment

Preparing to be A Fit Mother

“Active & Healthy Mothers raise Active & Healthy Children.”

Many scientific studies confirm the numerous benefits of exercise before, during and after pregnancy, both for the mother and her child. Healthy active women give birth to healthier babies, are role models and their children are more likely to inherit a healthy lifestyle.

The preparation for this should start before conceiving. If you are overweight or obese, you should plan to lose extra weight & fat before planning to start a family.

If you get pregnant when you are already overweight and then put on more weight than your doctor advised, it can take a long time, may be an year to get back to a decent frame.    

If you do not shed the pregnancy weight for a long time, it could stick to you for a longer time giving you a poor body image along with several disease risks associated with overweight or obesity. Whereas if you get pregnant at a normal weight and gain just about the weight recommended by your doctor, you can get back to your pre-pregnancy shape & weight in a couple of months if you follow a diet and exercise plan after consulting with your doctor.

During pregnancy, the concern for her baby increases the mother’s motivation to form healthy habits. Good habits formed at this time can last a lifetime.

So rather than following the old wives tales like “Eat for Two”, “Pamper yourself with Food”, “Take Bed Rest” “Don’t do housework”, “Don’t Lift Buckets” etc. you should adopt a consistent, moderate intensity physical activity along with a balanced diet with the advice of your doctor. Healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancy can safely exercise under guidance. Restrictions like bed rest etc should be only put for complicated cases wherever doctor advices for the same.

There are many benefits of exercising during pregnancy which will interest you:-

1             A moderate exercise plan keeps your mood and energy levels elevated.

2             It controls excess weight gain which gives physical & health benefits along with an enhanced body image and confidence.

3             It improves your posture resulting in fewer aches & pains as your muscles stay strong and decreases incidences of falls.

4             It lowers the risk of stress, anxiety, Insomnia (Sleeplessness) and depression.

5             It increases the heart health of the baby.

6             It helps in a faster postpartum recovery.

7             During labor & Delivery the tolerance for pain is enhanced, stamina for labor is increased and chances for caesarian births are reduced.

However, some special considerations should be made when it comes to exercising during pregnancy.

1             Do not exercise in the Supine posture (Lying down on the back) after the first trimester.

2             Additional 300 Kcal per day are required during this time to meet the needs of exercise and pregnancy. You should consume 30 to 50 grams of carbohydrate before exercise.

3             Avoid motionless standing during exercise or after exercise because it may result in pooling of blood in the lower body due to which you may feel dizzy.

4             Avoid exercises that involve the risk of abdominal trauma.

5             Avoid holding the breath.

6             Avoid exercising in extreme temperatures. Wear proper clothing and maintain adequate hydration.

It is very important to know from your doctor the signs & symptoms for discontinuing exercise (Like vaginal bleeding, dizziness, chest pain etc.) and composition of your diet as the information given above is general information and you may have to vary your diet and exercise routine as per the advice of your Doctor. 


Losing Weight after Pregnancy

Giving birth to a baby changes your life and also your body. Being a new mom affects every part of your body and can take up to a year for it to recover fully. New Moms may notice that even after giving birth they look several months pregnant. This is absolutely normal. You should not forget that it took 9 months to gain that weight, so give at least that long to take it off. It is a slow process. 

You may be eager to jump into a weight loss program or diet but starting with light exercise & sensible diet is very important for keeping your body safe and injury free.

If you were active before pregnancy and had a normal delivery without complications, you may start with a basic exercise routine, i.e. walking and doing light strengthening exercises for your abdomen, back and pelvis, as soon as you feel comfortable.

You may need to relax for 4 to 8 weeks before starting any exercise routine if you had a C-section.

In any case, it is always advisable to get clearance from your doctor before starting any fitness regime.  

Lactation (Breastfeeding) is a natural way to weight loss after pregnancy as it requires a lot of energy. You may burn 300 to 500 kcals a day and reduce some fat you gained during pregnancy. Just make sure that you give your body enough fuel, i.e. balanced diet for this extra energy demand. A very restricted diet (Lesser calories than required) can reduce your milk supply.

Good nutrition

Eating a well balanced, variety of foods is very critical. When you are lactating, your body needs maximum nutrition. You should choose foods that are dense in nutrients you require and low in calories, especially from saturated fat (Deep fried foods, foods prepared in vanaspati, desi ghee, bakery products etc.) and sugar (sweets, cakes etc.). 

Keep low calorie, high energy snacks like raisins, plain popcorn, wheat crackers, roasted namkeen, whole wheat / multigrain biscuits, nuts (just a fistful in a day), fresh fruits etc., in the house so that you have better options when you feel hungry at an odd time.

Substitute white breads, floor, rice etc. with the whole grain variety (Whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole wheat chapatti, wheat flakes etc.) These are complex carbohydrates with fibre and they keep you full for long.

Eat whole eggs, lean meats, chicken, fish like tuna, salmon & sardines (if you are a non vegetarian) beans, sprouts etc. These are low in calories and high in protein and fibre.

Include low fat milk, curd and cottage cheese. These are rich in calcium which is required to keep bones strong.

Eat a wide variety of seasonal vegetables & fruits so that you get all the possible nutrients. Avoid junk food as much as possible but you may have your favourite junk food in moderation, only once a week. This is important so that you don’t feel deprived.

Drink enough water throughout the day (say,10 to 12 glasses). Replace canned juice with fresh juice without added sugar, plain water with a dash of fresh lemon & honey, regular tea coffee with green tea. You may drink buttermilk, coconut water, unflavoured soymilk instead of your regular sugary soft drinks.

Drinking enough fluids prevents you from getting dehydrated & also fills you up so that you don’t over eat.    


Your exercise routine should consist of the following:

i)             Cardiovascular activity

ii)            Core Strengthening

iii)           Strength / Weight training

Cardiovascular activity helps strengthen the heart & lungs and burns excess fat. You should remember not to start vigorous routine like jogging, running, aerobics, etc., immediately post partum. Start with brisk walking for about 20-30 minutes a day for at least thrice a week or preferably all days of the week. Swimming (If you already know how to swim otherwise do not attempt to learn swimming at this stage) or stationary cycling is also good to start with. These are low impact activities and do not put unwanted stress on your body & joints.  

Work out at a moderate intensity, say, where your heart rate goes up above normal but you are still able to carry on a conversation. You can make out when you are overdoing when you start gasping for breath. So, slow down at that point. Remember, start slow & gradual. As you get stronger, you may switch over to more intense activities but only after consulting your doctor and a professional fitness trainer.

Core Strengthening: Core stands for the mid section of your body i.e. the abdomen & the lower back. During pregnancy this area gets weakened and stretched. So it is very important to strengthen the muscles of your core.

Although you must be very eager to start working out on mostly your abdomen thinking it will help lose fat around the belly. Remember, you cannot spot reduce fat from only that area of your body you are interested in. It is always a combination of cardiovascular activity, strength / weight training and right nutrition which will help you lose fat from your abdomen. You may lose fat from the upper abdomen faster whereas the lower abdomen may take longer as women store excess fat here, especially after pregnancy. So take it easy and keep patience.

You may start with gentle Yoga, Pilates & Kegel exercises which will help strengthen these muscles & keep you flexible. But if you have Diastasis (Abdominal separation where the right & left sides of the abdomen spread apart at the body’s mid line after pregnancy), you should strictly take the advice of your doctor.     

Kegel exercises are those in which the small muscles around the vaginal wall are contracted  in a certain manner. These exercises help strengthen the pelvic muscles which get weak during pregnancy.

Pilates exercises are again used to strengthen the core muscles. You should start with the basics. Certain basic yoga poses are also good to start with as they will take care of keeping you stress free and ensure proper blood circulation.

Gradually, when you become stronger, you may switch over to the traditional abdomen workout routines.

Strength Training :   Training different parts of your body with an external resistance (Dumbbells, Tubings, Machines etc.) is an important component of a weight loss & recovery plan. It helps you strengthen your muscles and make you stronger to resume your daily activities along with taking care of your baby.

For instance, if you train your arms with weights, you will not get tired holding your baby in your arms for long.

Whether you have lifted weights pre pregnancy or not, don’t forget to start easy. Use light weights and start with the basics.Training with a fitness professional will guide you better and prevent any kind of injury.    

How to deal with obstacles to exercise?

Adhering to an exercise regime can be tough during the initial months after giving birth. But it is always possible to take some way out.

Tiredness & Fatigue:  After childbirth, you are always on your toes trying to look after the baby in the best possible ways 24 x 7. Especially when you are breast feeding, your energy gets depleted very fast. This is because breast feeding requires an extra 300 to 500 kcals a day depending upon whether you have twins or a big baby. It is an energy demanding process. Make sure you eat sensibly and don’t go on a “diet”. This is not the time to restrict your calories too much. All you have to take care is that extra calories should come from healthful food items. This will keep your energy levels high.

Time Restrictions & Erratic Routine:  After delivery, in the first few weeks and months you may find that you have only a few minutes here & there for exercise. Baby’s feeding routine may get changed, you may not be sleeping enough etc. making it tough to adhere to an exercise routine.

Take advantage of whatever time you have and spread your exercising routine throughout the day. Short exercise routines, say 3 sessions of 10 minutes, in a day are as effective as continuous workouts. For example, while your baby is asleep, take some stairs up and down or walk around the house,do stationary cycling, etc.

Mood Swings and guilt:  The mood swings are triggered by the hormonal changes following childbirth. Severe or long lasting cases may require medical treatment whereas women with mild symptoms can overcome this with proper self care and strong support systems from family and friends. Exercise with a well balanced diet will definitely help elevate your mood.

Some new mothers feel guilty about exercising as they feel that they are ignoring their baby and being selfish about their body. They believe they should be with the baby all the time and by not doing so they will not be called a good mother. But you should not feel guilty taking out time for exercising, you should remember that you will be a better mom if you exercise . You will raise your child better and be a role model.

Fitness, its importance & weight loss, By Yashmeen Manak

October 2, 2009 at 7:23 pm • Posted in Resources14 Comments

What is fitness?

 Fitness does not mean a perfect body, an hour glass figure or bulging muscles with 6 pack abs.

 Fitness is a state of mind and body. It is about being at peace with oneself, being confident and comfortable within our body. It is about performing our daily activities without undue fatigue and still having energy. It is about being disease free. A great body is a bonus along with all the health benefits.

 In more simple words which will relate to any person, fitness is being able to climb a fleet of stairs without going out of breath, without feeling any pain in the knees. Be able to sit in the office chair or in the driver’s seat for long, without feeling pain in the lower back. Be able to work on desk for long without complaining of neck pain. Be able to manage home, work, family and friends without getting tired. Coming back to home after a long day at work and still being able to play with your kid without getting irritated. Be self-dependent even in the old age. Being at a low risk of premature development of diseases associated with sedentary life style (sedentary life style is referred to of those people who do not participate in a regular exercise program for at least 30 minutes on most days or everyday of the week).  

 Why is it important to be fit?

 When we are very young, say in our teens to late twenties, we do not realize the importance of being fit. Because we are young, our body is capable of coping up with all the mental and physical stress and abuse. Because we do not bother to take care of our body during these years, there is no insurance for middle age and old age.

 Just like any machinery collapses or some part of it wears out due to negligence or no maintenance, our body is also a biological machinery with several systems working inside and lack of care & maintenance may gradually lead to certain handicaps with age. It is simple, “Don’t use it, you lose it”.

 Regardless of over- weight or non over weight, staying fit is an insurance to be self dependent in old age. As a minimum requirement, every individual should accumulate at least 30 minutes of exercise on most and preferably all days of the week.

 Health benefits, i.e. low risk for disease and being able to perform daily activities with vigor, can be achieved with moderate amount of exercise, for example 30 minutes of brisk walk or 15 minutes of jogging, but greater benefits can be achieved from greater amounts of exercise.

 There are several diseases which are called lifestyle diseases associated with sedentary lifestyle combined with a not so healthful diet. Exercise prevents occurrence of cardiac events, reduce the incidence of stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, colon and breast cancer, osteoporotic fractures, gallbladder disease, obesity, depression & anxiety and delay mortality.

 Individuals who change from a sedentary lifestyle to being physically active or who change from being physically unfit to physically fit, experience lower rates of disease & premature mortality compared with those who continue to remain sedentary or unfit. It is never too late to become physically active to achieve health benefits.

 Exercise requires efforts and self control, but when these are combined to form a healthy life style, the rewards that you reap are beyond substantial. Individuals lead a more enjoyable, energetic and happier life. Improvement in your physical health will have a positive impact on your family, your personal relationships, your business and every aspect of your life. Apart from these it also helps you to reduce your expenditures on health care thus providing you the economic benefit as well. Exercise is a health tool to achieve physical fitness and every individual whether over weight or non overweight should take its importance seriously.  

 Why weight loss?    

 Overweight refers to increased body weight in relation to height when compared to some standard of acceptable weight.

 Obesity refers to an excessively high amount of body fat in relation to lean body mass (Weight of bones, muscles, blood, organs, fluids which are fat free).

 Being overweight or obese is associated to several diseases. Obesity is itself a disease which attracts a cluster of other diseases especially related to heart. The table given below shows the classification of disease risk and corresponding BMI range. (BMI is the ratio of weight in kilograms and height in square meters)

 One can easily calculate his / her BMI by taking the weight and height measurements and using the formula for calculating BMI as mentioned above. The risk factor increases with increase in BMI above 25.

 Classification of disease risk:

Classification BMI (Kg/m2)
Overweight 25 to 30
Class I obesity 30 to 35
Class II obesity 35 to 40
Class III obesity > or = 40

 Several diseases are associated with high body fat, especially abdominal fat, which are obesity related diseases -


Coronary Artery Disease

Heart Failure


Certain cancers (Pancreatic, Colon, possibly Breast & Prostate)

Sleep apnea (Uneasiness in breathing experienced by obese individuals while they are asleep)


Hypertension (High Blood pressure)


It must be noted that in certain cases fat loss is more important than weight loss. In such cases you may weigh more due to more muscle mass, higher bone density, bone structure, water retention etc., even though your appearance may be normal.

 Regular exercise combined with a healthful eating plan is the only secret for long term fat loss and weight maintenance.

 Obviously there are no disadvantages of losing weight or body fat for an overweight or obese individual as long as the weight loss process is slow and gradual under the guidance of a health & fitness professional.

 So, everyone should adopt a fitness routine before it is too late to fit into the existing clothes, before the doctor advices to lose weight to survive a life threatening disease, before the joints show signs of ageing…. Make exercise a lifestyle!


October 2, 2009 at 4:24 am • Posted in Resources4 Comments

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October 2, 2009 at 4:17 am • Posted in Events, Fitness FAQ, Resources, Sculption of the Month1 Comment

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