Sunday, May 06, 2007

Article - Fitness - Teen Preen


In your teens, feeling good means looking good. The great news is that nature does a lot of it for you. Your body is developing, and your mind is on the "soak-it-all-in" mode. It is blossoming-time. You can tweak your teen-time health in the right direction and reap the benefits forever. However, in these formative years, it is so easy to pick up the bad stuff and gloss over the "what's-good-for-you" stuff. Sure, there are too many things happening when you are in your teens – hangouts, late-nights, parties, phone calls, erratic sleeping and eating habits. So how can you get into the "shape of your life" unless you burn all those calories?

Get into the groove of exercising. Exercise is for everyone and is even more "cool" than you think. In today's world of automobiles, escalators, elevators and other mechanisms by which one moves about, it is not easy to keep fit "naturally". Avid walkers are lucky. Regular gym-goers have it made too.

Then, there is another easy option that is available.

A group aerobics class: highly enjoyable. Many people just walk in and join an aerobics class impromptu - they simply go with the flow. Still, nothing like knowing what you are getting into.

What group aerobics classes do for you:
q You are not alone – Misery Loves Company!
q You move to music – It’s like dancing only better, as you are sure to lose calories in the "proper" way.
q There is an instructor hand-holding you throughout.
q It is usually for an hour - Surprisingly, you don't keep watching that clock like a hawk!
q It is usually conducted in a structured manner - Stretches, warm-up, low-impact / high-impact moves, toning exercises, cool-down…it's all in there, ready-made!
q It's a total body workout.
q A variety in aerobic routines keeps boredom away.
q It improves mind-body co-ordination.
q It is very suitable for beginners (first-time "exercisers") as it eases you into the general body movements associated with increasing flexibility, toning and weight loss.
q The whole experience is like a dose of adrenalin for the rest of the day.

A few words of caution, though.

Before joining an aerobics class, check your weight. If you have not exercised in over 3 months or have never exercised at all, there are chances of "acquiring" an injury. Age has nothing to do with this. Sprained muscles, strained hamstrings, sore calf muscles…are just some of the problems that can come your way. To top it all, being overweight and not having exercised before, or in a long time, is a terrible combo!

As for the step-aerobics classes, this may not be for everyone although it is a blast when you are young and have no creaky joints or nagging aches! Now… the prospect of continuously stepping up and down on the double-step platform for 40 minutes can be intimidating to some. However, you can burn at least up to 450+ calories in an hour (high-intensity). As for those non-teens but would-be-preens, please just bear in mind that, anyone with a knee problem or other discomforts should be more careful. It might be safer to experiment with a single step rather than straightaway on the double step that is usually used. Nevertheless, do try it. Those steps can be a lot of fun!

Fun aside, go in a few minutes earlier to chat with the instructor about yourself and get familiar with some basic moves – grapevine, shuffle, heel-dig, touch-out, etc. and learn the low-impact versions as well. Better still: watch a class before you take the plunge. It really is motivating if you like your instructor's body language and style.

A typical aerobics class concentrates on the various parts of the body. You will notice an improvement in your general posture, flexibility and body tone in a few weeks.
To maximize the benefit you get out of aerobics, you need to perform every move with the right posture and technique to avoid injury. For example, flexing, pointing, holding the stomach in, taking conscious, regular breaths and so on.

Aerobics is quite refreshing and wholesome! Soak in the good stuff now!

Sujata Tarakesan.

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