Making Exercise a Part of your Life

Adopting a healthier lifestyle, losing excess weight, exercising more are all among the most common resolutions people make and break within a matter of days.

If you’re struggling to become more physically active and fit and making it a permanent part of your life, rest assured that millions of people are just like you. We all know exercise is good for us, but we keep reverting to our old ways or never get that fuel we need to start. Don’t be discouraged. Realistically, few people would one day declare “I’m going to lose weight and get fit,” then go jog a few rounds and get it programmed in the daily schedule.

To begin with, you need to have the right mindset. Let’s get started and once and for all, make exercise part and parcel of our lives!

Set goals that matter, make constant reminders.

Each of us would have different motivations to want to exercise. Keep them personal, and identify their significance and positive impact on you. If you tie your goal(s) with another person then take note that it may backfire. This happens when that person or motivation no longer means much to you.

Get a piece of paper and write down your goals and reasons for exercising. Having them down in black and white gets you more invested in your goals. Put up the list in a visible corner of your room, or in your smartphone, somewhere that you frequently look at each day. This serves as a reminder whenever you are tempted to skip your exercise routine.

Use technology to motivate you

Weight loss and increased fitness levels aren’t often immediate. It helps to have a smartphone app keep track on the amount of calories you have burnt or how much your heart rate has improved. Best of all, many of them come with pre-planned work outs and are often free. You may need to experiment with a few before settling on one or two that you really like.

To help those who need that additional push, creative apps like Zombies, Run! and Fitocracy add a little gaming element to make your workout more exciting.

Set up a fitness corner at home

Rain or shine, busy or not, there is no more excuse when you have tools for your exercise right at the foot of your bed. A fitness corner does not require much space, nor does it have to be elaborate. A corner of your room will do, with a face towel, ipod or iphone for your workout music, small portable tools like dumbbells (or water bottles), stretching band, and your workout shoes.

Every night before bed, lay out your exercise clothes. You’re more inclined to carry out your daily fitness activity, or at least be guilt-tripped into doing so, when you see your clothes beckoning to you.

Plan and schedule your workouts

Plans tend to instil a sense of obligation, in contrast to randomly deciding what to do for the day. Schedule your workouts for the month – detailing activities, time and venue. You’ll feel a sense of gratification whenever you complete and cross out each workout.

 

Get rid of that “all or nothing” mindset
You’d planned to do 10 push ups, but you feel like dying after the third one, so you decide to shelf it and never speak of it again.

You decide to do a run around your estate instead, but it has started raining. Well, there’s no where else you would have space to run, so let’s cancel it.

And that is how people lose motivation to exercise. Exercise does not have to be complex, nor does it have to be strenuous. The first step is always difficult, but a more than difficult start will certainly discourage one from stepping out.

Can’t do the recommended prescription of 45 minutes for the day? Then remember, even 15 minutes is better than none. Jogging too taxing for you? Try brisk walking. Do what you can, then challenge yourself to do better once you have gained traction.

Make it fun
Enjoying what you’re doing makes it easier to persist. If conventional workouts are not your thing, you might enjoy dancing, aerobics, yoga or a sport. You can also add some spice to whatever you are doing, such as using music, or watching television while working out. Some people even listen to audio books while running on the treadmill. And these days, there is Pokemon Go, which has made walking an integral part of the gameplay.

If you often have trouble finishing your workout, do the ones you find most difficult or boring first. You will look forward to the exercises you like better, and you’ll be able to complete the session.

If you’re tired of your routine, don’t be afraid of ditching it for a new one. There are lots of work outs and exercise videos online to give you variety.

Like education, regular exercise is an investment requiring some commitment. But the outcome is often tremendous and far-reaching.

– This article first appeared in a lifestyle magazine

Staying strong in the heat

stock-photo-heatstroke-322906667Summer is a season characterized by sunny days and clear blue skies. Unfortunately, these blessings are sometimes accompanied by scorching hot sunlight and sudden heat waves. In Singapore, we may be “summery” all year round and we don’t get extreme hot days like other countries, but the temperatures certainly have been going up and this year we saw some of the hottest days we’ve ever experienced, and this trend might stay or worsen in years to come.

Aside from causing some discomfort, hot weather may not affect most healthy individuals. However, they can have fatal health complications for the elderly. According to geriatrics specialist Calvin Hirsch of the UC Davis Health System, “seniors account for a disproportionate number of heat-related hospitalizations and deaths.”

Why are senior citizens more vulnerable to heat?

One loses the ability to perspire and regulate body temperature with age. They also tend to feel colder than a younger person. An elderly person may not even be conscious of thirst or heat, especially if suffering from dementia, diabetes (where nerve damage is a long-term effect) or cognitive impairment. Medications like tranquilizers dull awareness to discomfort.
For senior citizens with health problems such as heart diseases, the body has a harder time maintaining proper blood circulation and dissipating heat. Certain medications interfere with the ability to cope with the hot weather, including antipsychotic drugs for Alzheimer’s patients, anticholinergic drugs, tranquilizers, sedatives, amphetamines, diuretics, antihistamines, and certain antidepressants. Diuretics, commonly used in the treatment of high blood pressure and heart diseases, cause water loss which can subsequently be dehydrating in light of the high temperatures.
Danger arises when they don’t actively seek ways to cool down due to failure to realise that the body is hot.

Additionally, older skin is thinner, and offers less protection from the sun.

Tips to stay cool:

Use the air-conditioner. If there is no access to one at home, hang out at an air-conditioned public place, such as the supermarket, library or shopping mall.

Open the windows to improve ventilation, but keep the sunlight away with curtains and shades over your windows. Open windows without a cover simply makes the interior temperature same as outside.

Open the windows at night, but make sure the window grills are locked and don’t place any valuables near the window. Alternatively, use fans to encourage ventilation.

Place pieces of cardboard with aluminum foil on one side facing the windows. This can help to reflect light and heat away from your house. The effect is more significant if the boards are placed outside your window, with the shiny surface toward the sunlight.

Drink plenty of fluids, and eat light meals like porridge and soup-based dishes. Avoid drinks with caffeine such as tea and coffee, and alcohol.

Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting and light-weight clothing whenever possible.

Taking regular cool showers is a good way to cool down, but there are less costly and more water-saving alternatives. Wet a clean washcloth with cold water, then rub it all over, in particularly the neck and face. For a more efficient cooling method, use ice cubes wrapped in a wash cloth.

Minimise physical activity, and limit them to the cooler hours. Outdoor physical activity should be entirely avoided on very hot days. If possible, exercise indoors, such as in the gym, community centre or at home.

Heading out?  Avoid direct sunlight, and use hats and umbrellas to keep the sun away. Bring a hand-held battery-operated fan or cooler, and bottled water.

If you’re a caregiver to an elderly person, be alert, because a cognitively-impaired person may not be able to inform someone about his or her condition. Check in on him / her regularly, or have a neighbour do so.

Here is a list of common heat-related problems and their signs, by Caregiver.org:

•    Heat stress: Headache, nausea and fatigue are common symptoms.

•    Heat fatigue: cool and moist skin, weakened pulse, feeling faint.

•    Heat syncope, or fainting due to heat: sudden dizziness, pale, sweaty looking skin that is moist and cool to the touch, weakened pulse and rapid heart rate despite normal body temperature of around 37 degrees celsius.

•    Heat cramps: muscle spasms in the abdomen, arms or legs after exercise.

•    Heat exhaustion: a warning that the body is getting too hot. Warning signs include thirst, giddiness, weakness, lack of coordination, nausea, and profuse sweating. Cold, clammy skin. Body temperature may remain normal. Pulse is normal or raised slightly. Pupils may contract. Urination decreases and the person may vomit.

•    Heat stroke: this is life-threatening. Send the person to the hospital immediately, as death can occur quickly when heat stroke occurs. Warning signs include raised body temperature (around 40 degrees Celsius and above), person may feel confused, combative, behave bizarrely, feel faint and stagger. Pulse is rapid, skin is dry, flushed and may feel hot. There is a lack of sweating. Breathing may be fast and shallow. Pupils may widen or dilate. Delirium, seizures or convulsions, and coma are possible.

– This article first appeared in a lifestyle magazine