Sunday, July 10, 2011

The early morning antidote

The early morning antidote

Early birds claim that morning exercise holds a definite edge, writes OLYMPIA SHILPA GERALD

Photo :M. Moorthy

FITNESS WITH FUNA morning game of tennis can keep you brisk all day
‘Early to bed and early to rise' may not be everyone's favourite maxim, with some of us reaching out involuntarily for the snooze button on the alarm, every morning. But exercise freaks who are early birds claim they don't merely catch the worm first, but enjoy all the perks that come with it too.

When it comes to the question, which is the best time to exercise, ‘anytime' may be the generic reply. There are professionals and busy folks who claim zeroing in on half an hour anytime in the day is enough to fulfil their exercise quotient. But early morning exercise seems to be the clear favourite amongst exercise freaks across disciplines. Not just sportsmen and women, but for many, early morning exercise is an antidote to many ills, tensions and niggles.

“The results are never better than early in the morning,” asserts Prasanna Balaji, Physical Education Director, National College. “After eight hours of sleep, the body is well rested and fresh. The muscles can be strained to the maximum and endurance levels hit an all time high.”

Evening exercise has its own benefits, but with a day's hard work coupled with stress, individuals cannot put in maximum effort, he says. Early morning exercise also boosts metabolism. M.A.Aleem, neurologist notes that the benefits of an early morning walk are sometimes underrated. “As pollution levels are the lowest and there is ample fresh oxygen, brain cells are activated. In the long run, an early morning walk can prevent dementia.”

Good stress buster

Morning exercise is also seen as a stress buster. Physical education teacher, S. Jailakshmi who swears by morning walks, says morning exercise is the best sharpening tool for the mind. “You have to be doing it regularly to realize the benefits completely. Even missing a day's walk can make the whole day seem dull and lacklustre.” An hours' exercise in the morning can squeeze in more number of workouts than evening, she points out. For instance, rotation exercises that can be done for 20 minutes in the morning may seem tiring after five minutes in the evening.

Though walking is recommended largely, athletes and coaches claim, ‘When you can jog, then why walk'. If your young, fit and healthy, then jogging is a better alternative to keep you packed with energy. Stretching exercises are also paramount and increasingly seen as an inviolable part of exercise routines.

“Flexibility exercises are best done in the morning as muscles can be worked to their maximum,” chips in gymnastics instructor, Madan. “You don't tire easily and the morning air helps you get into the groove quickly.” For those who play a sport on a regular basis, fitness sessions by morning and skill training by evening is the best approach, he advocates.

Yoga expert, Sivakumar, claims there is nothing to beat the break of dawn for practicing yoga, particularly the suryanamaskar and pranayama. Ideal environmental conditions, an atmosphere sans high decibel noises and overnight sleep make early morning exercise the best bet. “Personally, I believe you cannot extract the maximum out of your body in the evening. Mornings are for optimum performance. Your obligations are few and distractions are minimal.”

Yoga in the morning can help combat stress better. Natural lighting and open air can stimulate thinking, while meditation can enhance mental toughness. “You can feel the difference with morning exercise over a period of time. Besides, you get motivated to push yourself further.”

Be it jogging, skipping, playing a game of tennis, swimming, light weight training or hitting the gym, morning exercise translates into more consistency and efficiency. Putting exercise on a later slot or marking it ‘anytime' in your itinerary, might mean that chances are it gets relegated to the backseat with activities crowding your day. And this is where the early birds crow over the night owls.

Don't don doctor's role

Don't don doctor's role

Olympia Shilpa Gerald

— Photo:M.Moorthy.

Over the counter:Self-medication can be harmful.
TIRUCHI: Do you involuntarily reach out for a painkiller every time you wake up with a splitting headache? Blame it on our frantic schedules, long waits at clinics or the inclination to save time and money, prescriptions have been thrown out of the window and popping a pill at the first indication of fever, cold, indigestion has become the order of the day.

While acknowledging that most people darken the doctor's door only when their symptoms worsen or show no signs of abating, Zameer Pasha, National Chairman of Academy of Medical Specialties, cautions against self medication for those with pre-existing conditions like diabetes, hypertension or heart disease, as drug interaction is possible. “Patients already on drugs should always consult the physician before taking medicines even for minor ailments. A heart patient for instance should not take paracetamol or aspirin without the doctor's consultation.”

Dr.Zameer Pasha says that self diagnosis is more harmful as patients often diagnose abdomen pain as ulcer and associate chest pain with heart disease and take the appropriate medication for years, until they develop serious complications. He adds that discontinuing the course of prescription should be avoided, even if the symptoms fade away.

T.Mohanasundaram, Joint Director of Health, cautions that self medication is like committing a mistake with self- knowledge. “Doctors always prescribe a combination of drugs that combat or minimise side effects. They take contents and compositions of drugs into consideration. Whereas, in self medication there is always a possibility of under or over dosage.”

Symptoms cannot be dismissed as minor ailments, as a slight fever may be symptomatic of serious illnesses like tuberculosis or recurring cough might be the first signs of pulmonary disease. Analgesics or painkillers are always prescribed after food as they may cause ulcer if taken on an empty stomach.

Self medication is widespread for headaches but it brings many complications in its wake. M.A. Aleem, Professor of Neurology, K.A.P.Viswanatham College says, “Most headaches are stress related or induced by tension. But repeatedly taking painkillers every time you have a headache may lead to kidney problems. Besides, people get addicted to painkillers as they cause sedation. Frequent headaches should not be ignored. Early consultation can prevent life-threatening complications.” Sleeping pills, memory-inducing drugs, neurological and psychiatric medicines should not be procured over the counter. He warns that people who resort to self- medication are susceptible to being sold substandard drugs.