You probably have been wondering: What in heavens does it mean! It is a word we have coined because we feel it fits the activity to a T. Had we called it ‘jogging’ or ‘marching-on-thespot’, it would have given you an inaccurate picture of what it entails.
We remember walking into a gym attached to a five-star hotel. The instructress clapped her hands and shouted, “Now, get ready for marching-on-the-spot!” And the exercisers – most of them overweight began. Left-right-left-right, their feet thudded against the floor.
“Higher! Raise your knees higher!” commanded the instructress in stentorian tones. Some of them tried, huffed and puffed and finally stopped because they were literally gasping for breath we wonder how many of them enrolled again.
More important, how many lost the required number of kgs in fat-weight. As you must have gathered by now, the instructress’ strenuous pace was wholly unnecessary. It was almost like a power-game. As If she were deriving pleasure from making her students gasp and buckle at their knees.
Yes. such strenuous effort is required if you are aspiring to be an athlete. Since you are cotnpeting you have to push your body to- and beyond – its existing limits. But, not one of her students had the remotest ambitions of making it to the tracks! Most of them were executives, homemakers, professionals. All they wanted was to lose fat-weight and achieve a trim figure, By joining this gym, however, they must have got the wrong idea. That to be slim and fit, you have to punish your body, whip it up into a sweat and almost kill yourself in the bargain! Nine out of ten must have given up, feeling it was not worth the effort. That is the point we are making. We’ve renamed marching-on-the-spot, ‘inchstepping’ to prove to you that it is worth the effort. If done right, at a comfortable pace, it is effortless and effective. In fact, it is so painless, so easy, so effortless, that a friend who stayed over and watched us asked in disbelief, “You mean you lost weight by doing this?” You bet we did!
So what is inchstepping? It is a gentle low-impact, high-result marching on the spot. You don’t need to raise your knees until they bump into your nose! To the contrary, you have to raise your toes just an inch above the ground! It doesn’t make you pant at all, At the end of your session, you will be able converse as easily as you could before you began. It doesn’t even take too much of your time – only 20 minutes per day. And when you do it, you will realise that 70-80 steps per minute is an extremely comfortable pace. Try it and you will know. In fact, you will find 100 steps per minute more satisfying – take our word for it. The main thing here is that you are moving your leg muscle rhythmically and vigorously enough to give yourself a complete cardiovascular workout.
Like stationary cycling, its advantage is that you can do it in the comfort of your home-as you watch TV or listen to music. Here again, as in jogging, wear thick-soled keds and socks and march on a thick mat preferably on a dunlop coir-foam mattress. And sport snug underwear.
Inchstepping is for the shy introvert who would feel self-conscious striding or running down the street. It is an all-weather exercise as neither rain nor heat can curtail it. Plus, it takes only 20 minutes of your time. On a busy day, if you feel you just cannot find the time for a 42-minute walk, do inchstepping, You can even do it in your lunch-hour.
Here, the word of caution is only to the highly myopic and the obese-check with your doctor before you do it. Medical complaints apart, inchstepping is small step for you, a giant leap for your fitness!
As we said earlier, choose the exercise that suits your needs. If you are over 35 years of age, check first with your family doctor. Ditto if you have any specific medical problem. And if you are extremely overweight, don’t jump into jogging. Begin by swimming or stationary cycling as they are both non-weight-bearing exercises. If you have a back pain, avoid cycling or jogging, And if you have an eye-problem where, say, your retina has been displaced, then, until it is rectified, avoid any aerobic activity.
Specific medical problems apart, don’t hesitate. Just go for it! You could vary the exercise by referring to our score sheet and earning your 60 Aerobic runs per week.
There could be other reasons too. You may not have a swimming pool in your neighbourhood. You may not have the budget to buy a bicycle, and so on. But do not let anything stop you. You still have a choice. Choose what you are comfortable with. Choose what goes with your circumstances. Select what gives you the maximum enjoyment. Don’t listen to cynical or derisive remarks from others.
You are bound to hear them. For example:
A walker it asked why he doesn’t jog.
A woman jogger is asked if her breasts won’t sag.
A swimmer is asked if swimming is a really an exercise.
An inchstepper is asked, isn’t it better to go outdoors?
Ignore such remarks Fitness is your own individualised pursuit where you are communicating with yourself. Just do it. And persevere with it. A few weeks or months later when they see you looking slimmer with a healthy glow on your face, watch their eyes pop in amazement!
A few more tips: If you have tried out the aerobic 12-minute test in Part II of the How Fit Am I? personal survey, you would have an idea of your physical condition.
If you couldn’t last those 12 minutes, it is probably because you have never exercised. Start with the gentlest of all – swimming or walking – and work up your stamina weekly as shown in the score sheet.
If you did last those 12 minutes but with some discomfort, you may be a weekend athlete who does not exercise during the week. Or you may exercise off and on with long sabbaticals. You could start with a higher score per week instead of the first 8 or 10 runs.
If you are a regular exerciser, you are probably scoring 60 aerobic runs per week and not even aware of it! You could use our score sheet to measure your progress. Continue your good work! You are on the right fitness track.
Above all, remember this: Nature has given you the most high-tech exercise equipment that no manufacturer can ever hope to duplicate, two private medical doctors that have the highest degrees in fitness- your legs! You have 96,000 km of blood vessels – capillaries in your body. When your leg muscles are at rest, only part of these capillaries are at work. But when you start moving them, miracles take place within you. Not only do all these capillaries start working, but new vessels pop open to irrigate those muscles and pump plenty of life-giving blood to your heart.
And why has Nature presented you with these great gifts? Because you were meant to use them! Before today’s civilisation, your poor ancestor walked, ran, crouched, pounced, threw, just to get his daily meal. But you do not have to worry about basic needs. They are there at the grocer’s, at supermarkets. You don’t need to crouch over twigs of wood to light a fire, all you have too do is turn on your gas burner. It has given you time to think, to plan, to live a more leisurely life than your ancestor, ever dreamt of. In fact, if evolution were to follow in the footsteps of civilisation, we would all be in wheelchairs! Terrible thought, isn’t it? But Nature’s wisdom has kept us intact. It is up to us to find ways to enjoy our civilised carefree life to the fullest by nourishing and nurturing our ‘aerobe’ – our body which is a macro micro-organism that demands oxygen to keep it in perfect purring order.
It is not difficult since our legs are our natural fat-burners. Use them to lose fat. As long as you do not exercise aerobically, you are allowing your body to degenerate into a fat-manufacturing factory. That is not what Nature meant it to be. It was meant to be a fat-burning factory to be stoked by two strong pistons – your legs. Use them to climb up the ladder of fitness, the ladder of life.