Ever since we recommended walking, jogging, inchstepping, cycling and swimming as excellent aerobic activities in our fitness columns, we have been inundated with calls from readers asking us several questions. And each and every one has two questions that they constantly put to us:
Which one of these aerobic activities is the most effective one? and
Which one should I choose?
To answer the first query: all these exercises are equally effective provided you do them in the recommended time-span at the required intensity four to six times a week.
There is one more point we would like to clarify. If you have noticed, we say ‘four to six times a week.’ Yet, our score-sheets show the number of days as five. This is because not everybody is the same. Some may prefer to exercise one extra day and earn bonus points. If so, go ahead! Another may feel that by not exercising in the two days out of seven, they find it that much more difficult to go back to exercising after a day’s rest. Such persons may even want to exercise all seven days to keep the momentum going. There’s no harm in it. It depends on how much your body can take. In such cases, keep an old fitness phrase in mind: train, don’t strain.
Now, to come to the second query. It requires more consideration because it depends on: your physical condition, your mental state your outlook, your circumstances, your taste.
The How Fit Am I? personal survey in Chapter 4 would have also given you an insight into yourself, About your leisure habits, attitude. And you are aware that any advice or tip or programme that you pick up and follow from this book will only make it better.
On a very broad basis, we would answer the question Which exercise should I choose? with a simple: “Whichever you enjoy the most.” That is a very good starting point. However, don’t waste time pondering on it. If you really want to know, clear your mind by taking a brisk walk! Meanwhile, we will give a short analysis of each activity to help you make up your mind.
Jogging: Jogging or running outdoors is fun, inexpensive and the quickest way to get results. Make sure you have thick-soled keds – as jogging on a hard surface can cause a jarring effect on your feet, ankles, knees, hips and spine. The thick soles cushion you from such shocks and potential orthopaedic problems. Jogging works out your arms and legs and toughens various muscles. However, it is not recommended if you are extremely overweight or have any medical complaints such as back pain, high-blood pressure or a heart problem.
The ideal jogging conditions are plenty of open space, large grassy surfaces and fresh air. If you live in such surrounding, you are, indeed, privileged! Otherwise, there could be a few avoidable hazards. If you are jogging on pavements, look out for potholes that could materialise below your feet. Simultaneously, watch out for low-level branches of trees that could hit your face. Most of all, don’t jog where there is heavy traffic alongside you. Those traffic fumes contain carbon monoxide which is dangerous to your health. One more problem – a novel one – was narrated to us by a regular jogger. He had street dogs following him, barking and snapping at his heels!
Our advice is to jog in a well – maintained, organised park where the conditions are ideal.