[2006-09-09] Exercise

I'm not a fitness freak but I do believe in the old adage that a healthy body houses a healthy mind. Consequently, I had decided early on in my life to try to remain as fit as is reasonably possible. Unfortunately for me, I have not consistently implemented this resolution over the years with the natural result that I had become lethargic, easily tired and had gained unseemly tyres of fat on my person. I have been trying to rectify matters over the last few months and it seems to be paying off, slowly but surely.

Back in college there was a time when I used to jog in the mornings, swim in the afternoons and play football in the evenings, though I took on the latter two activities more for fun than for improving fitness as such. After leaving college and taking up a job, I tried to jog regularly in the mornings but gave up after a couple of months or so. Without jogging partners from my college days like Pranjal and Subra to goad me, it required too much will power and discipline to refuse the warm embrace of sleep and brave the cold morning air every day. As a wit once remarked, the toughest distance you have to cover while jogging is the stretch between your bed and the floor. To keep myself from putting on excess weight, I tried to regulate my diet a bit. However, that can only help so much when your entire day is spent sitting on a chair at your workplace and your entire night is spent either sitting on a sofa or lying on a bed. Before I realised it, ten years had passed and I had become an embarrassingly unfit image of my former self, advancement of age notwithstanding.

So I have been forcing myself over the last few months to go to bed relatively early (10 PM) and get up and go for a jog, or even a brisk walk, early in the morning. It was difficult at first and I was very irregular but it has now become easier - I wake up by 6 AM without the need for an alarm and am able to convince myself to get out of bed.

I prefer running through the streets of the city in a single long loop and getting a varied view rather than doing monotonous laps in a park or a stadium or staying at one place on a treadmill. Unfortunately for me, it turns out that there are an alarming number of vehicles on the streets even at 6 AM in the morning and spewing noxious fumes and that there are a large number of stray dogs which sometimes bark at you, sometimes run after you and sometimes leave their poop behind for you to watch out. The footpaths are not continuous or even and the roads have oddly parked vehicles or idiots driving the wrong way. The parks nearby are a bit too crowded for me to have any hope for a decent pace of jogging. The playgrounds in the neighbourhood are either too muddy or filled with children, not to mention stray dogs.

I had therefore switched over rather reluctantly to running on a treadmill. Fortunately for me, I live in an apartment complex that has a fairly decent gymnasium. I found out that running on a treadmill is not as bad as I had feared and is in fact much better in several ways. For one, the surface is not as hard as that of a road or a footpath so it feels much better to run on. More importantly, it allows me to properly warm up, maintain a steady jogging speed for a while and then properly cool down. I can easily control the effort expended by varying the speed, the slope and the duration. I can vary the programme to accommodate any constraints of time I might have. The other equipments available in the gymnasium also allow me to exercise other parts of my body. There are also some other benefits of working out in a gymnasium that cannot be described publicly without putting one's marital life into jeopardy. ;-)

One of the pleasantly surprising facts of working out is that it actually leaves me energetic and enthusiastic, rather than tired and achy, for the rest of the day. I feel much better than before and I hope I am able to maintain this regimen.

(Originally posted on Blogspot.)

Other Posts from 2006