Probably the commonest advice a doctor gives is to lose weight and do some exercise. Does that ring a bell in your memory? Was that part of the advice after your annual physical check-up?
Unfortunately, there seems to be very little real understanding of what exercise should consist of, how often, what type, how long and what about sex? I was reading an article on exercise the other day and it said authoritatively that one should wear comfortable clothing and socks with the correct size of non-slippery, shock-absorbing shoes. If this includes sexercise, there are some strange shoe fetishes out there!
However, getting a little serious, a little exercise will be good for you, provided that you pick a form of exercise that is not harmful for you! Now I know that looks as if I have put my money on both horses in the race, but take that sentence at its face value. Enough research has been done to show that regular exercise is beneficial for everybody, in both the physical and psychological aspects, but, and it is a big ‘but’, all forms of exercise have relative bodily risks, and this has to be taken into account before you buy a pair of expensive jogging shoes and tackle a 10 km trot in the middle of the day. True stories - a medical colleague in Australia took up playing squash when he turned 50 and dropped dead on the court of a heart attack, and another acquaintance of mine turned 40, decided he wasn’t fit, bought a bicycle to ride to work each day and was run over by a bus.
The same article that advised non-slippery shoes, did have some wise words however. These included to choose appropriate exercise according to your ability. Never exceed your limit. Remember that it is not the harder the better. If you have acute medical problems (such as fever, or pain), stop exercising. Running with pain is silly. If you have chronic medical conditions (such as hypertension, diabetes, ischemic heart disease and arthritis), seek advice from your doctor beforehand. All of these I agree with. If you are happy to take your body to your medical advisor when it is sick, take it back to your doctor for advice on how to tone it up as well.
The other words of wisdom suggested that for prolonged exercise such as hiking, continually drink water to supplement the loss of body fluid due to sweating. Do not wait until you are thirsty. Take appropriate breaks during exercise. Do not over-exert yourself. Forget about “powering through the pain barrier”. Leave that for Olympic cyclists high on this month’s stimulant.
As well as the form of exercise, there is the frequency. At least three times per week, 20-30 minutes (or more) is necessary each time, to derive the maximum benefit. And always remember, if there is dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, chest pain, vomiting, nausea or severe pain during exercise, stop exercising immediately and seek medical advice as soon as possible.
Now I did mention at the start of this week’s article, the word “sexercise”, and some of you have been impatiently reading, while nervously fiddling with your expensive packet of Viagras, Kanagras, Cialis and other lead-in-your-pencil medications (I draw the line at tiger willy). OK, what about sex? The advisability of this form of exercise when you have some chronic complaint (such as hypertension, diabetes, ischemic heart disease etc), should be part of the advice you get from your doctor beforehand. The danger of over the counter willy stiffeners is that you don’t get advice with them.
Finally, the learned article did say “Exercise with friends. Company provides enjoyment, mutual encouragement and support.” That goes for sexercise too!
And how do I stay slim? I walk several kilometers around the hospital every day, I walk to the doctor’s rooms to ask questions, rather than telephoning, and generally make sure I remain active. So far, it’s working!