Hello, I’m Ajoy Prabhu. I am a Medical Researcher. I studied Pathology, the study of diseases, particularly infectious diseases at the University of Maryland and studied Epidemiology, the study of how these diseases spread, at The Johns Hopkins University. Till recently, I was working as the head of marketing of inventions and technologies at the US National Institutes of Sciences. I was privileged to bear witness to some medical technologies decades before the public ever got to use them. My hope is that I can use what I have learned, in helping you get better and stay better.
In the last video Dr. Jenny gave you in a very broad sense, ways to stay healthy during this pandemic. In this video, I will try and go into more depth about one of those parts- exercising. I’ll show you some workout routines and the benefits of doing them. Please watch till the end, because we share some of our secrets on how we stay on track.
BENEFITS OF EXERCISE
Initially, I felt I should skip this part, because everyone knows the benefits of exercising, right? But Dr. Jenny reminded me that it is always better to remind. Here is an easy one- when (not if!) Dr. Jenny and I fight, one of us goes for a run or does weights and the next thing you know, we’re not fighting anymore! So, ya! …it helps improve mood.
Obviously, doing some aerobic workout helps with your lungs, but did you know that taking in so much air literally helps burn fat and engages your circulatory system? Your veins, your arteries, your lymphatic system all get a workout! So it should come as no surprise that it helps drop your BP down. Moving more blood through these pipes also helps drop the bad cholesterol (we call LDL) and increases the good cholesterol (or HDL).
Add to this some stretching exercises, and your joints will thank you. Stretching also helps with what I had started this whole discussion with — calming emotions!
WHERE DO YOU START?
I want you to start as slow as you want, but the key is to keep adding to it. Either time or intensity. Anything. Just increase it till you get to 30 minutes a day. You can vary it so that one day you do only 20 minutes, and another day, 40 minutes.
By now, I hope you’re asking, how do I get off the couch and do this exercise thing?
Again, an example from our very recent past — because we were busy selling our house, getting it cleaned up, etc. I really had had no time to do any exercises. Then of course, covid happened. One thing led to another and before we knew it, the frequency of our workouts had dropped to once every few weeks, if that!
So when we moved here to Puerto Rico we made sure that we had packed at least my sneakers so we could go running. Fast forward a month and I can safely say that both of us do some form of workout at least every other day.
For those that tend to postpone exercising, a very effective technique that Dr. Jenny uses, is to change into her workout clothing way before the time she had planned to workout. This way she forces herself to go for her run or whatever exercise she had committed to in her mind.
Still doubtful about where to begin?
Let’s take our example again – we started by walking every single day with our boys. We started with about 2 miles and bumped it up to about 4 miles. The walks turned into fast walks to short runs, and now Dr. Jenny does about 5-6 miles at a time, I do about 3.
It’s been a month now, and now we have added a short 30-40 minute strength training. The key takeaway from this story is to do whatever you can. Even if it is a 5 minutes of walking up and down a few flights of stairs. No? How about 5 minutes of marching in place? Just FIVE minutes! No? How about stretching up and touching your toes?
The key is to start with something very very small that you know you can do! Doing something, anything is better than nothing. Once you get this idea in your head that it is only 5 minutes, nothing can dislodge it because after all, it is what?? Only FIVE minutes!!
Let us be real here. We go off-track all the time and most likely so will you. So the key thing – and this is our little secret that I said I will share with you – is that to get back on track, just start with a 5 minute routine.
Again, what are you going to tell yourself? It’s just FIVE minutes. That’s all. Once you’ve become more accustomed to regular exercise, you could consider joining online exercise classes (of which there are multiple available now thanks to quarantine!) or pulling up pre-recorded classes on you tube.
HOW ABOUT A DEMO?
Most of these are yoga asanas and some at the end are those that will help you oxygenate your body:
Vajrasana to Veerasana – settle onto your knees, rest for a minute and then slowly spread your feet and sit on the floor. If you cannot manage the floor, then put a pillow to sit on.
Parivratasana in sukhasana – this is a wonderful way to move the fluid between your vertebrae so that newly oxygenated fluid can get in there.
Balasana to Bhujangasana – all day we carry on in a slightly slumped manner or bent forward, especially with our smartphones. This one counters it brilliantly.
Supta Matsyendrasana – again another spinal twist but with a little bit more intensity as your legs pull you on to one side.
Marjaryasana to Bitilasana – this one is great for sciatica pain usually due to a pinched back nerve.
Veerbhadrasana 1 & 2 – slowly we are moving to open up our lungs and this is the start.
Tadasana to Adhomukhsshwanasana – helps open up the top part of the lungs as well as the shoulder joints.
Easy Jumping Jacks – start slow with this one, there is no rush to get it right.
Jumping Jacks – if you can manage to move your arms above, it will help open the lungs up more
Mountain Climber – some of us find jumping jacks to not increase breathing. This one will certainly take care of making you breathe harder.
Slow March-in-place – this starts to engage the largest muscles in your body – in your legs. Think of them as engines that will help burn energy.
Slow Knee-ups & arm circles – this will increase the intensity a little more. If you can, try and open the knees to the sides like I am showing you.
Chair Squats – again we are hitting the largest set of muscles to increase your energy burning power. If you find this easy, try not to sit, but just touch the chair and get back up.
I hope some of these exercises find a way into your life. The main thing to remember is that no matter how little you do, just do something. Anything. Just 5 minutes to start. No more. Just 5 minutes. Remember too that any combination of exercises we showed you will help you improve your health over time. Once you set the ball rolling, you will see how it helps your mood improve, we hope you do more of them till you get to the point of at least 3 hours or more per week.