I HOPE you are doing well with your mission to get to Christmas this year, having achieved your resolutions.
Our body is constructed in such a way that it needs exercise to be able to function at its best.
From the 1980s onwards, we have made our environment an obesogenic one, meaning fattening. When I work out in the gym in Vale do Lobo, where the workers on the building site across the road can see me through the windows, I understand this statement fully. They probably think that if I did any real physical work, I would not have to artificially exercise those muscles. Right they are.
In a way, it is a paradox that we live in a world where we aim to make daily living more and more comfortable, while on the other hand we pay out money to use sophisticated machines to train our muscles. In the good old days we had to walk to collect the firewood, chase the deer to have something to eat, while nowadays we do step classes and drive in golf buggies through land where deer was once hunted.
Anyway, with the world as it is, we have to find the best way for us modern people to not turn into couch potatoes.
Here is my advice:
• Don’t make it complicated. There is no perfect exercise for you. There are many suitable and fun activities and, as long as you do them regularly, will prove to be beneficial.
• Find the activities you really like, otherwise you are not likely to practice them in the long run.
• For most people, sport is more fun when you have company. Choose an activity where other people can be a motivating factor. A bit of peer pressure here is a good thing.
• Have a sports medical or check up every year, particularly if you are just starting to exercise.
• Use professional expertise in the beginning. Using a coach (personal trainer) can be very helpful, avoids developing wrong techniques, injuries and wanting too much too soon.
• Define why you want to exercise. Is your aim just fun or is it health? Do you want to lose weight or win Wimbledon?
• Exercise for health is most effective in a moderate form, non competitive, mostly aerobic and does not need to be done more than three to four times per week.
• Exercise for weight loss is best done daily. Go for two to three aerobic exercises, but also do one to three muscle and flexibility ones. The more muscles you have the more fat you can burn.
• It is never too late to exercise and you are certainly never too old to start. In particular, the older generation benefits enormously from using their muscles and putting weight on their bones.
• Often a start up programme, like a ‘back to golf week’ as a holiday, can help you get into the swing of things.
Have I convinced you? If you are still not sure, here are a few more motivating facts:
By regularly exercising you can reduce your risk of having a heart attack or diabetes by 70 per cent.
“Mente sana in corpore sano” (for the old Latin scholars among you). A healthy mind can develop better in a healthy body and vice versa. Exercise has proven to be efficient in the treatment of depression, anxiety and hyperactivity.
Over the years we have learned that the most difficult part of any healthy lifestyle programme is staying on track. It is easy to lose the rhythm and fall back into unhealthy habits.
Humans are masters in denial and forgetting. The Kaiser Cure suggests the following method to avoid that behaviour:
Use the power of the word, particularly the written word. Make it a habit to begin the day with jotting down what aims you are going to achieve – five portions of fruit, 30 minutes walking or taking your partner to the cinema instead of a fish and chip dinner.
It is much more difficult to get lost once you have reminded yourself and written it down in the morning. Also, go through this diary just before you go to sleep. These are the times when your sub-consciousness is most receptive.
I have kept the really good news for last! There is now a new fun exercise facility in the Algarve.
This year, the ice-skating arena in Forum Algarve, Faro, set up for the festive period, is triple its regular size and is really good fun. It is a super outing for the whole family and by exercising, you can also help a very good cause. The proceeds from the arena are going to be used for an information campaign about climate change.
Congratulations to the management of Forum on their campaign based around Father Christmas – they will reach a very broad spectrum of people to inform them why Santa could soon be running out of ice.
Wishing you a happy pre-Christmas time.
Dr Thomas Kaiser
Dr Thomas Kaiser MD, DRCOG is a General Pratitioner and specialist in Family, Preventative and Cosmetic medicine. He is the director at the Vale do Lobo Medical Centre (289 398 009) and partner of Dr Robin Thomson in the Family Medical Centre, Almancil. E-mail [email protected]