Category: Fitness

Tips to how to be fit in this polluted season

Tips to how to be fit in this polluted season

Health and pollution are strange companions. When the level of man-made pollutants rise in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the soil we take produce from, our health takes a sabbatical, leaving us prone to medical conditions and even fatalities. However, if you still need quantification, it’s available, courtesy the World Health Organization. Pollution, in all forms, affects well over 1 billion people worldwide, taking a toll of over 10 million lives in India alone.

The threat looms large with the onset of winters. As the temperature dips, the pollutants reach the ground level, engulfing urban areas with high emission rates in thick smog that refuses to wane. With winters fast approaching, managing health amidst growing pollution levels becomes imperative or else the risk of losing life’s biggest blessing runs high. Thankfully, there are practical strategies to beat the pollution and its time for you to get intimate with them.

Stay active

The pollution levels outdoor are way too unsafe, but that does not give you the license for a sedentary, inactive lifestyle. Scientific studies suggest that the impact of pollution is more profound on people with low physical activity vis-à-vis the fitness freaks. Even if you skip morning walks and evening strolls, there are plenty of options to stay active and mitigate pollution-related health risks. Take for instance yoga. This ancient practice has a set of pranayamas that purify us intrinsically and help ward off conditions. Here are your best options.
  • Kapalbhati: Kapalbhati is essentially a purification technique for your mind, body, and spirit. It’s a perfect response to air pollution, and easy to implement as well – just take a yogic posture, breathe in, push your abdomen and exhale. Repeat the process for at least 15 minutes and experience health gains like strengthened immunity, better lung capacity, enhanced blood circulation and healthier metabolism, and more.
  • Anulom Vilom: This pollution season, breathe your way to better physical and mental health with Anulom Vilom pranayama. Start by closing a nostril by placing a finger on it and breathing slowly from the other. Hold the breath and shift your finger to the other nostril and exhale. If getting rid of stress, anxiety, depression, arthritis, cardiac issues and blood pressure is your idea of fitness, Anulom Vilom is for you.
  • Bahiya Pranayama: Although a bit complicated of all pranayamas, Bahiya pranayama is a panacea for many physical and mental conditions. The pranayama goes underway when you inhale deeply, and moves forward with you releasing your breath in three phases of equal or unequal duration. The initial phase involves contraction of abdominal muscles, while you need to press your chin hard against the collarbone and give an upward thrust to the perineum muscle in second and third phase respectively.
  • Other Options: Pranayamas, including Suryabhedi and Mahaprana Dhwani, are also proven remedies for pollution-related disorders specific to the lungs, heart and liver. Besides yoga, prefer indoor sports, such as swimming, badminton, trampoline, tennis, basketball, and more to stay active and keep side-effects of pollution at bay.

Eat Healthy

Most of the foods are contaminated with hazardous chemicals that can impair health irreparably. While you cannot skip food, you can definitely take some preventive measures to steer clear of pollutants and their effects. Your first step to contamination-free eating is hygiene. Habits, like keeping your kitchen, more specifically worktops and dishcloths, spick and span, washing hands when preparing food, and washing vegetables and fruits thoroughly, will go a long way in restricting the intrusion of chemicals into your system. Also, consider including some herbs into your diet to bridge the nutrition gap and counter the vagaries of pollution.

  • Turmeric: Turmeric is a rich source of Curcumin, an active compound with anti-oxidizing properties. Simply put, it boosts your immunity and flushes toxins out of your system. Although most of the tradition favorites contain turmeric, mixing few grams of it with ghee and consuming the mixture with water will offer better health outcomes.
  • Tulsi: Tulsi is one plant with multiple benefits. The plant absorbs toxins, keeping the air in your living space purified, while its juice frees the respiratory tract of toxins.
  • Neem: Neem is a hedge against the harm caused by pollutants. Just endure its atrocious taste, and chew/drink your way to a better immunity, stress relief and glowing skin.
  • Pippali: If air pollution has impacted your lungs and immunity, Pippali is the way to go. Simply mix it in a teaspoon of honey and take the mix regularly for a safe recovery.

Go out but with precaution

From grocery shopping to commuting to work, going out is essential, no matter how high the pollution levels are. However, some prudence can keep you away from the harm’s way.
  • Apps: There are mobile applications for predicting air quality and they call them predictive outdoor pollution apps. An initiative of the Indian government, SAFAR-Air, is one among the many such apps out there offering air forecasting for the next 24 hours in Delhi. Capitalize on these apps to decide when, where and how to go out.
  • Wearable technology: Thanks to technology yet again, we have easy access to pollution sensors that you can wear for fashion and function. These cool gadgets give a fair idea of pollution levels when outdoors, helping you skip areas with high emission rates. Though this technology is yet to evolve, it does prevent you from inhaling pollutants.
  • Respirators: Respirators are making their way to the wardrobe of health freaks, and fashion shows as well. These personal devices filter and purify the air you breathe, safeguarding your respiratory system while you shop, jog, walk, commute or enjoy a stroll. However, respirators should not be mistaken for a cloth mask, a common sight in urban centres, which, at the best can only keep you safe from dust.
  • Miscellaneous: Avoid choosing busy roads for jogging, strolling or cycling, and prefer not to follow a heavy vehicle since their emission levels are high. Refrain from visiting roads lined with skyscrapers, as pollutants remain close to the ground level in such places.

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Aerobic Exercises for Weight Loss

Aerobic exercises (also known as cardio workouts) are known to improve the cardiovascular conditioning of your body while helping in weight loss. These exercises require proper breathing control to optimize the level of oxygen in your body to make your muscles feel the burn.

Benefits of aerobic exercises

  • Reduce the risk of heart diseases
  • Decreases your resting heart rate
  • Lowers the high blood pressure
  • Enhances the level of “good” cholesterol
  • Improves the functioning of the lungs
  • Control your blood sugar level
  • Helps in weight loss or weight management

Now you are aware of all the benefits of aerobic exercises, including the weight loss. However, getting into solid aerobic exercises right away can be difficult if you are not cardio enthusiasts. Don’t worry!

Here’s a list of seven best aerobic exercises that can help you in your weight loss journey:
1. Walking

Walking may be the simplest exercise for you but it can help you burn 300 to 400 calories per hour. Moreover, it is a low-impact exercise that anyone can do without much effort. If you are looking for an easy way to lose weight and burn calories, you simply need to head out for a morning walk or an evening stroll.

The faster you walk, the greater will be the benefits. A regular active walk can help you to:

  • Improve your bone and muscle strength
  • Maintain a normal, healthy weight
  • Improve your coordination, mood and body balance
  • Prevent certain conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other diseases

2. Rope Skipping

Another best aerobic workout to lose weight is rope skipping. It can burn up to 600 calories per hour while helping you build up bone density, making the heart stronger and strengthening leg muscles.

Are you worried about the impact of skipping or jumping? Well, according to a cardiology and pulmonary medicine professor at the University Of Connecticut Health Centre, jumping a rope has a lower impact compared to running, provided it is done properly.

Jumping rope is even considered to be a great plyometric workout, which pumps up your heart rate while burning calories. You can perform the following four exercises (each for 60 seconds) and take 1-minute rest after each move for quick weight loss within a few weeks.

  • Jump Rope
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Box Jumps
  • Split Jumps

3. Running Stairs

Just by running on a staircase, you can burn up to 1000 calories per hour. That’s crazy, right? Well, it indeed is not easy to run on a flight of stairs constantly for up to 30 minutes. But the result will surely amaze you. You can start by simply walking the stairs up and down for just 10 minutes and gradually increase the time. For even better results, you can perform a cross-training exercise for 30 minutes or less. This will also help you burn more calories than a simple running session. Just look for a staircase inside or outside your building to start this workout.
4. HIIT Workout

High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT workout has become a popular form of exercise over the past few years, as it helps you burn up to 600 calories per hour. This workout was earlier used to train sportsmen and athletes. But now this cardio workout is becoming popular in many online workout sessions and gyms.

It consists of several high-intensity exercises for a short interval, followed up by a short recovery period and then the exercises are repeated again. The high-intensity workout periods increase the oxygen need of your body. Therefore, you can burn more calories and fat compared to the low-intensity workouts.

HIIT workouts include different forms of exercises, including cycling, running, weight training and elliptical machines. However, the aim of all these exercises is the same – to improve cardiovascular conditioning while helping in weight loss.

Most HIIT workout programs suggest you do hard workouts for 20 to 30 seconds, followed up by a 10 to 20 second rest period in-between. If done correctly, you will see noticeable results within a few weeks or months. The best thing about this workout session is that it extends maximum up to 20 to 25 minutes and can be done easily at the comfort of your home. So, there is no need to exhaust your body in the gym for hours.
5. Cycling

Remember how much you enjoyed cycling when you were a kid? Cycling is a great form of exercise that burns serious calories while increasing your heart health and strengthening up your leg muscles. You can include your favourite childhood activity to your daily exercise routine for burning up to 600 calories per hour.

If you are not comfortable with outdoor cycling due to increasing traffic or pollution levels in your area, go to a gym class and hit an indoor cycling session. A 45-minute of cycling session will help you burn around 400-600 calories. Moreover, you can enjoy this fun low-impact workout that you can carry out both indoor and outdoor depending on your preference.

6. Rowing

You may have seen the rowing machine in your gym but hardly ever used it. However, you will be amazed to know that this equipment is a great calories burner. It can help you burn up to 500 to 600 calories in a complete one-hour session. Yes, that’s right! Take help of a good instructor to use this machine in the right way.

Rowing machine helps in exercising the various body parts, such as shoulders, biceps, triceps, back, quads, glutes and core body. Apart from this strength training, there are intense aerobic benefits of the rowing machine.

7. Kettlebells

Kettlebells are the weights that come in the shape of a cannonball. These weights help in producing effective and powerful workout experience that’s enough to burn up to 800 to 900 calories in an hour. Combining aerobic and strength training for a complete exercising session, kettlebells are known to be your amazing gym partners.

As per a study conducted by the American Council on Exercising, kettlebells are observed to offer higher intensity exercise compared to the normal strength training routine that is done for a shorter period. During kettlebell training, you are simultaneously working on your body strength, aerobic endurance, flexibility and body. So, you are likely to see better results compared to other low impact exercises.

You won’t be disappointed with the weight loss result after performing these intense aerobic exercises regularly. If combined with strength training, these aerobic workouts will undoubtedly help you form a healthy, strong and lean body.

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Lose those Extra Pounds the Right Way with these Food Hacks

There are some people who never seem to gain any weight while the rest of us are always on the lookout for ways to lose those extra pounds. However, most crash or extreme diets leave you hungrier, crankier, and heavier, which is the exact opposite of what you want to achieve.

Well, there is not one way to lose that extra weight but here are a few food hacks that can help you shed weight and feel fitter, healthier and better. Believe it or not, but a few healthy additions to your diet can make all the difference.

  1. Beans
  2. We’re not talking about the beans in “Jack and the Beanstalk” but beans in general since it is an excellent source of fiber that will help you achieve your weight loss goals. Beans make you feel satiated all day long and it is an excellent way to control hunger prangs that most often lead to cheating on your diet.

    Apart from keeping hunger at bay, beans provide a number of health benefits as well that include reducing cardiovascular disease, lowering blood pressure and reducing LDL cholesterol. To add to that the calorie content is low and it is a good source of protein as well.

  3. Popcorn
  4. The Olivia Pope diet, popcorn and wine, has been much talked about across the world about the show Scandal. But, believe it or not, popcorn, devoid of the cheese or caramel topping that are extremely sinful and packed with calories, serves as an excellent snack that you can munch on between meals and not worry about packing on few more pounds.

    This crunchy snack is rich in fiber content and contains a little protein as well. Since popcorn is filled with air the portion is larger but the calorie value of each flake is relatively low and you can continue munching on some more popcorn without feeling guilty.

  5. Avocados
  6. Avocados are an acquired taste and even those of who despise any veggies or anything green then, well, you will be in for a surprise. It is for a good reason that avocados are known as a super food packed with potassium, fatty acids, phytochemicals, and dietary fibers.

    Several studies have shown that avocados can help in weight loss even though the calorie content is higher than most fruits. Well, the best part is that you can add this ingredient to salads, tacos or in a sandwich.

  7. Yogurt
  8. Yogurt is a staple in the Indian diet and it is for a good reason because it is packed with a lot of goodness. The probiotics and proteins present in yogurt help maintain the gut that helps in weight loss.

    Another secret to weight loss that most people fail to realise is that it is essential to keep the bacteria in the gut happy as it helps in metabolism. So, don’t shy away from frozen yogurt the next time since it is healthier than ice cream and having a bowl of yogurt will do you more good, than harm.

  9. Almonds
  10. The best way to keep your sugar or snack cravings away is by munching on a few almonds between meals, not a handful but just a few will do. It is not just an excellent source of fiber but it is rich in protein content that will make you feel full acting as an appetite suppressant.

    Incorporating almonds is simple as it can be used in salads, or in pesto or just keep a few in your bag that you can munch on when you feel that you are going to give into the temptation of having an unhealthy snack.

  11. Salmon
  12. There’s nothing better than a perfectly cooked salmon that describes the perfect health food. It is not only rich in protein but it packed with Omega 3 fatty acids that are associated with weight loss.

    It’s always good to have two servings of fish a week that is both healthy with a low-calorie count. There are so many ways to turn use this fish to turn it into a meal that is not only healthy but delicious at the same time.

    These are a few food hacks that can help you shed those extra pounds without putting too much effort into it.