“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”
~ John F Kennedy
Mine is a love and hate relationship with fitness and health. I hated the effort it took to be fit for the better part of my life (say until I was in my late twenties). As for health, I have been dogged by serious, chronic illnesses for most of my life. I have already shared my back story related to this earlier.
‘Fitness is sometimes recommended to keep us in shape or on account of illness(es). However, it is an inner urge to be fit and how much we enjoy the activity that keeps us going.’
~ My take on Fitness
So, what’s new?
My wife and I have joined a Gym and are being trained by Fitness Trainers for six days a week. In fact, we just completed six months of vigorous training. For anyone past fifty, beginning training can seem daunting~ trust me, the challenge is in getting started. Then, one is hooked to it! Our trainers are amazed by our zest and the progress we have made during this period. From cardio exercises, to rigorous workouts to weight training, we are undergoing the whole gamut of training which kids less than half our age are attempting.
‘The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit.’
Admittedly, there have been the aches and pains, the soreness that comes with muscles put through the wringer. What matters is that we enjoy gym training thoroughly! In fact missing out on a single day makes me feel lethargic. Sunday, is of course rest day, the window for the body to relax and rejuvenate.
Influence of Exercise on Serotonin
“According to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, of the United Kingdom, exercise increases brain serotonin function in humans. A study published in Neuropsychopharmacology revealed that there are two mechanisms by which physical activity increases brain serotonin. First, motor activity increases the rate and frequency at which serotonin is “fired” within the brain, resulting in an increase in both the release and synthesis of it. Secondly, regular exercise increases the level of tryptophan in the brain (an amino acid used to manufacture serotonin).
Serotonin is a brain chemical that helps move messages throughout the nervous system. This neurotransmitter performs many functions, including regulating mood, appetite and the sleep/wake cycle.”
How have I been benefited specifically?
1) For one, it feels great to have a body that is more in shape~ it helps my self image too. My muscles are more supple and stronger.
2) Being an asthmatic, vigorous activity can be a no-no as it is a known trigger resulting in attacks/wheezing. I first consulted my Doctor and he gave me the go ahead without hesitation. What’s transpired is that my lung power has gone up with gradual build up of strenuous activity. I’m much better off than I was last year around this time when I suffered repeated bouts of bronchitis.
3) Due to regular exercise, I am off anti-depressants for the longest span of time without suffering a relapse~ this was, of course, under a Psychiatrist’s advice. Isn’t that a neon signboard for the benefits of exercise?
4) A friend once grinned and asked me as I returned from a Gym session.
“Tired?’ he grinned at me.
“Nope!’ I shot back ‘I feel more energised’.
Yes, we Bipolar and Depression affected routinely suffer from bouts of lethargy and low energy. To a large extent, that problem has been taken care of.
5) The joy of making new friends of all ages at the Gym, being inspired by some of them and working out in tandem, to the beat of thumping music! This atmosphere is difficult to replicate at home (my preference, of course).
Does Fitness stop at exercise?
Hardly! Nutrition, a sensible & balanced diet are the bedrock of fitness. I had the huge advantage of having friend and Fitness & Nutrition expert, Ruchi Verma creating a Nutrition chart specifically created with all my key parameters in mind. Diet should be an ideal combination of carbohydrates, veggies, fruit & proteins. I have to take care of my several food allergies and intolerance too. My wife and I are not exactly fanatics about our choices..we just make sure that we get the basics right. Diet is also about discretion, the ‘Do Not Touch!’ list. So colas, canned foods, most baked stuff and alcohol are out. Smoking is taboo. I score a 10/10 on most counts!!!
You might want to read Ruchi’s brilliant post on Fitness & Health, Born to Run
There’s another element which has been covered in a separate post altogether.
‘Of Mind, Body and Soul’
Now, how about choosing a life of fitness, confidence and better health?