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#Expert Talk – Fitness Training – The Body Essentials

Fitness training is about more than just the core activity. An important commitment needs to be made to the body we strain during every session.

A marvel of engineering, the human body does not ask for oiling or spare parts. Because it adapts to different routines, lifestyles and fitness modules rather smoothly, we tend to start ignoring and abusing it. People push themselves harder and harder, without respecting their limits or understanding that each person’s caliber is different from the others.

In reality, the body requires a little respect and care; a very small price to pay considering how much it helps us achieve. It is, after all, the only place we have to live.

The following factors help keep the body happy through the Fitness routine

  1. Hydration
  2. Knowing your limits
  3. Adequate recovery
1. Hydration

Time and again we have been advised to keep our body hydrated. It is even more important during fitness activities. This is because we lose more fluids from the body when sweating occurs. When these fluids are not replenished, dehydration hits.

Interestingly, people believe that only hot climate and excessive sweating lead to dehydration. The truth is that you can get dehydrated even in the water, while swimming or while skiing through snow.

How? During swimming, like all other activities, the body temperature rises and sweating occurs. In cold climate, comparatively higher amount of fluid is lost through respiration and the ability to recognize fluid losses gets reduced.

Fluid loss of greater than 2% of the total body weight hampers exercise performance. This very small sounding 2% drop reduces blood volume and the heart has to work harder to pump blood to active muscles. This can result in muscle cramps, dizziness and fatigue.

Signs of dehydration

Thirst
Flushed skin
Early fatigue
Faster breathing
Rapid pulse
Rise in body temperature
Increase in the effort required for performing the activity
If the body is not hydrated even at this point, the following signs are observed –

Dizziness
Growing weakness
Labored breathing
Principles of Hydration

Weigh yourself before and after exercise to understand the fluid loss levels
Fluid requirements differ from person to person. The following measures serve as a general guideline that may be tweaked as per requirement –
a. Hydration before Exercise

Drink about 400-600 ml fluids, 2-3 hours before exercise
Drink 200-300 ml fluids, 15-30 min before exercise
What not to drink before a workout – Not all fluids will help you.

Avoid caffeinated beverages like Coffee, tea, alcohol as these are diuretics (substances that cause increased urination). Stick to water, fresh juices or low fat milk.

b. Hydration during Exercise

Drink about 200 ml fluids, roughly every 15 min during exercise
If exercising longer than 90 minutes, one can drink a 200-300 ml sports drink (with about 8 percent carbohydrates) every 15 – 30 minutes.
c. Hydration after Exercise

Replace fluid losses based on your weight difference after and before exercise
Drink about 1.2 – 1.5 litres of water for every 1 kg weight lost.
Benefits of Hydration

Healthy blood flow to working muscles
Maintenance the body temperature
Well-lubricated joints
Optimum transport of nutrients
Effective removal of metabolic waste
Note – For long distance runners, it is recommended to take complex sports drinks that also replenish body’s electrolytes instead of just water. During normal training, it is usually not necessary to replace electrolytes as it is unlikely that the body stores of Sodium and Potassium will be depleted.

2. Knowing your limits

Many beginners and sometimes even seasoned sportspersons push themselves too hard and don’t know when to stop. Some believe that training hard equals quick and great results. Unfortunately, such people end up hurting themselves. Thus, it is extremely important to look out for signs that the body gives when over straining.

Remember that when you are on a treadmill, it is not a competition with the person on the next treadmill; when you are lifting weights, it is not about outdoing the person who preceded you and it is not about getting ahead of the every other runner in the marathon if you are a recreational runner.

Don’t major in these minor things! It is essential to know and respect the limits of your body, which is unique from everyone else’s. Listen to your body when it tells you to stop or rest. Over exerting just once can leave you in pain for a long time to come.

Signs that you need to stop

Gasping for air
Head feeling hot
Black spots in your vision field
Trouble keeping eyes open
Reduced balance
Reduced coordination
Palpitations (feeling that your heart is racing or thumping )
Over training takes a toll on the body. In addition to decreased performance and reduced endurance during the activity, there are greater chances of injuries. Extreme fatigue is experienced as a result of pushing too far while working out. At times, the person may even collapse.

And the side effects do not end there. They creep into everyday life activities. After an over- training session, the person may develop a fever and may have an increased heart rate even at rest. Irritability, moodiness and lack of concentration also be experienced.

3. Adequate recovery

Rest and recovery are important within a fitness session and between two sessions. Every time we exercise or work out, the stress from vigorous activities creates micro tears and damage to soft tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments). These tiny injuries heal themselves when we rest. But if sufficient rest is not taken between sessions, these little tears can grow into larger, more serious injuries.

Recovery during a fitness session

Building recovery time into training programs is essential because the body uses this time to adapt to the stress of the workout. While exercising, the body uses additional nutrients and oxygen. After a while of vigorous physical activity, the body needs to replenish its energy stores, rehydrate and repair tissue damage. These can happen only through a short break from the activity.

Without sufficient resting time, the body continues to breakdown from intensive exercise. Often, the symptoms of overtraining crop up because of no or inadequate resting periods.

After the fitness activity ends, there needs to be an ‘Active recovery’ period, which is essentially the cool down phase comprising low intensity exercises. This has been found to improve the performance of individuals.

Recovery between Fitness Sessions

An excellent way body gets relaxation and recovers between workout sessions is through sleep. Restful sleep helps muscles to relax and repair. Not getting enough sleep causes lethargy, the energy levels drop and still continuing to train hard can cause illness. Consistently getting inadequate sleep for nights at a stretch can result in over production of the stress hormone which slows recovery. Thus, stress becomes an important aspect of recovery. While you may be getting eight hours of sleep every night, you may be under a lot of stress. Emotional stress manifests physically at one point or another. The muscles remain tense and healing of the body gets disrupted.

Addition of deep breathing exercises, yoga, Pilates can be beneficial to try and relax your body.

Building rest days between sessions of vigorous activities give energy, motivation for the next session, discipline and optimism. All of this translates into maintaining better balance between home, work and fitness goals.

-Anima Bajpai


About the Author
The author holds a Bachelors in Physiotherapy and an MBA in Marketing. She is currently involved in spreading wellness across TCS through TCS Fit4life.

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