The new check-up programs are out in my hospital with all the discounted items so you can chart your health (or otherwise) and star remedial action.
Probably the commonest advice a doctor gives to patients who have just done a check-up is to lose weight and get 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? For example, 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 that I haven’t heard of yet!
However, getting a little serious, 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 every horse 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 up Pratamnak Hill in the middle of the day.
True stories – a medical colleague in Australia took up playing squash when he turned 50 to improve his fitness 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. If you have chronic medical conditions (such as hypertension, diabetes, ischemic heart disease and arthritis), seek advice from your doctor or physiotherapist beforehand.
All of these I agree with. Remember that 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 keep it fit as well.
The other words of wisdom in the article 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 Tour de France cyclists and their “special” hormones.
As well as the form of exercise, there is the frequency. At least three times per week is recommended and 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, Sidegra 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 and the strain of sexual activity may not be the best for you.
Finally, the learned article did say “Exercise with friends. Company provides enjoyment, mutual encouragement and support.” That goes for sexercise too I would imagine, but take the joggers off first!