Bouncing back to fitness after COVID

I have written a short article on bouncing back to fitness after testing positive for COVID 19, which was published in the digital magazine of Silver Talkies.

Here’s the link to the articel.[0]=AT22aQo5ADWPUWvu0_rNB7lKVZJJOySKGHSsWrUS8gdUPrNe8OBFnyaRiyDUzJE2HcLUQ3l1S1-a_eyKsAeq3hclspkvJmL4QQRnHmgCV1edmnW2RjtI7dATla29gdsU5-aUPYRmpx4gYqpErlwu6IJxUy4

I plan to write regularly for this digital magazine and look forward to this experience with loads of enthusiasm.

Till the next time, Cheers !!!

Fitness goes viral–but!

These fascinating insights tell you how the fitness industry has grown in India, driven by the urge to build good health and fitness.
• From 2010 to 2015, India saw a growth of over 150% in the number of running events. –Sportskeeda.
• The fitness industry in India was expected to cross USD 1.1 billion by 2017.–CII-Deloitte study
• The premium and super-premium cycle segment is growing at a CAGR of 20 percent over the last five years. -Business World
• Participation in marathon events in India increased by 229% over the period 2008 to 2018. —Marathon statistics worldwide.
• Decathlon with 70 large retail stores has increases its sales by 10 times since 2013. -Economic Times
A creamy layer across all age groups is taking to sports and adventure activities in our country. However, the vast majority of our countrymen don’t take part in physical fitness activities. The Indian Council of Medical Research-India Diabetes (ICMR-INDIAB) study shows that less than 10% of adults in India meet the recommendations for physical activity.

As people get older, they appreciate the need to keep fit, but many senior citizens just go for a walk in the park. This does not bring the health benefits possible with the right levels of physical exercise. Researchers say older people who jogged postponed disability by almost 9 years. They have a higher level of cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, healthier body mass and composition They say that there is a dose–response relationship to show that higher intensity activities bring greater health benefits.

So, what is the recommended level of physical activity?

The World Health Organisation recommends that adults 65 years and above need to increase their moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes per week or engage in 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate-and vigorous-intensity activity. (WHO Information sheet: global recommendations on physical activity for health- 65 years and above)
#healthy living #fitness #wellness #well being #active ageing #adventure

Slowing down to go faster

In every aspect of life, we benefit by slowing down. Slowing our mind helps us navigate the stressful twists and turns of life. Reducing the frenetic pace of life brings better balance in our life, good health and emotional wellbeing. Even in our physical fitness workouts, slowing down brings greater benefits. We can make a conscious choice to live a better, more fulfilling, and accomplished life.
Slowing down to go faster is the mantra that Mark Allen, the six times world Ironman champion, uses for developing a fit body and a fit soul. I learned from his book, “Fit Soul-Fit Body”, the benefit of training at a heart rate at or below the Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate. This is different from the way I trained.
In the past I was mindful of speed, effort and duration of each workout and felt I had to keep pushing the bar up at regular intervals. Training meant that I needed to take myself up to the limit at each session, and the ability to perform better indicated progress. I used the heart rate monitor and the cycle meter to gauge performance. Mark Allen made me do things differently. Here are some principles behind his successful training methods suitable for those seeking to lose weight and staying healthy as well as those training for competitive sports.
Training at or below the maximum aerobic heart rate ensures that we burn fat and not carbohydrates. At low or moderate heart rate we burn fat but at a point we switch to burning carbohydrates. This is not the purpose of our physical fitness programmes. Training at high intensity above this heart rate takes us into the adrenal zone, which is not good for sustaining health and fitness. We lose the zest for doing things and the enjoyable feeling about life. Mark Allen places a lot of emphasis on feeling relaxed and at a comfortable level as we workout. He advocates speed and high intensity training only at measured intervals.
Finding the right balance between the work load necessary to get health benefits and staying comfortable is the key. Each one of us can find this right balance, appropriate to our needs, with conscious effort. The positive emotional state that comes from working out at the correct intensity level goes a long way towards re-enforcing a superb feeling about regular exercising. Uniting body and soul as we find the right balance in life and in our workouts brings us the greatest benefits.
Building cardio-vascular fitness and strength are the twin pillars of success in losing weight, improving health, and increasing longevity. Over emphasis of one at the expense of the other will not work for us in the long run. Increasing muscle strength through weight training twice a week is necessary to maintain lean muscle mass and strength which we lose rapidly as we age. Allen does not recommend weight training more than twice or thrice a week as it is counterproductive.
Many of my friends train regularly and have their own practices while training. I would love to hear from them on Mark Allen’s approach, on slowing down to go faster.
#healthy ageing #fitness #active ageing #well being # wellness #healthy lifestyle

On Father’s Day-Poignant snatches from his memoirs

On Father’s Day I remember my Dad. He was an exceptionally marvellous man. He died in 1971 when I was just 22. Here is an extract from notes written on loose sheets of paper which I found after he left us. It is his account of the trying times when my family returned from Burma during the 2nd World War.
In Oct ’41 talk of the world war was strong. A Japanese attack on Burma was
expected. When Pearl Harbour fell, the people of Burma became panicky. On
12th Dec ’41, the B.O.C. advised us to evacuate our families as the Sukky
Oil Refinery was a dangerous area. I sent Sreemu and children to a small
town near Henzada.
On 23rd Dec ’41 at 11 am, Japanese fighter planes bombed Rangoon. The fighter planes flew very low and machine gunned the city. The office going people were all caught unawares on the streets. The air raid which lasted for about two hours in steady waves, killed a very large number of people on the road and on the river. In the afternoon when the all clear signal was given, I decided to go to Henzada. I came to the jetty in my car. Locked it but there was no launch to take me across to Rangoon. I persuaded a Chittagonian to take me across the river in darkness on payment of Rs 50/-.
I reached Rangoon at about 8 pm, drenched with river water, which was lashing me in the small sampan in which I crossed the turbulent Rangoon River. There was no
conveyance in Rangoon. All shops were closed. Dead bodies were still on the
street. I had to walk the distance of two miles to the railway station to catch
the Henzada Mail at 9 pm.The train was full. People were sitting on top of the carriages. I purchased a 1st class ticket to get a foot hold in any compartment. I reached Henzada in the morning. Sreemu and children were happy to see me.
On 30th Dec we reached Rangoon and stayed with Dr Anandan, who made arrangements to evacuate women & children from Rangoon. May God bless that generous soul,who helped save the lives of so many people.
A Chinese coal vessel was sailing for Madras and women and children were allowed to board that vessel at 6 am on New Year ‘s Day. We had to leave for the jetty by 3 am. As we were getting ready, there was an air raid on Rangoon in the moon light. We rushed to the shelter. Even there,Sreemu wanted to stand close to me, to get to heaven together.
Before dawn we reached the wharf. They allowed only women and children on the wharf.Other ladies who had no children helped Sreemu, to carry the four little ones who were shivering with fright. Leaving them in the hands of God I returned to Syriam to my post. With God’s grace they landed safely in Madras.
I had a faithful servant Damodhar Nair to look after me. On many occasions, when I was reluctant to go to the shelter in an air raid, he would force me to go. I remember once, he wept aloud, when I said that I would rather die in an air raid than be a prisoner of war in Japanese hands. On 19-2-’42 at 12 noon we received orders to evacuate Syriam within half an hour. The Japanese were only 40 miles from Rangoon.
I went home to pick up Damodhar and my hand bag in which I had packed a shirt, a pair of shorts for change, a few bottles of Horlicks and biscuits and first-aid equipment. I left my house as it was and got into my car on my last trip in that car, to the jetty, where a launch was waiting to take us to Rangoon. Local Burmese hooligans had occupied the house even before the launch sailed from Syriam.
At Rangoon we had to go to Ching Song Palace, 8 miles away from the jetty and wait in the evacuation camp for further orders of movement. In batches of around 50, we went to that palace. It was not a safe place to stay,as prisoners from Rangoon jail and lunatics from the asylum, were released by that time and some of them had also taken shelter in that camp. Most of the people left in fear and by 23rd Feb only 11 of us remained together. We had one revolver which we used by turn on sentry duty, to guard the group from attacks by hooligans.
On the morning of 23rd Feb, we found the wardens of the camp leaving the palace in panic. We got into a lorry and drove the vehicle to the high court building near the jetty. We also got news that SS Jalagopal,which was in the wharf would sail that evening. In the evening, we had to fight our way through the crowds waiting outside the jetty. It was a struggle to get through. I was exhausted by the time I reached the steamer, which sailed in darkness that night.
A Japanese Raider asked us to stop near Basiene. Messages were exchanged between the Raider and Jalagopal. To our good fortune, the Japanese realised that the vessel was full of Indians and let us go. Within an hour we could proceed safely to Chittagong, which we reached on 27th Feb.
The same night I left for Cannanore on a four-day train journey—I was happy
to meet Sreemu and children and all at home.
And that was Dad’s poignant story. I must have got some names and
places wrong and also missed a few passages, as I had copied these
lines from an ancient manuscript
#memoirs #family #refugees #father’s day

Building an invincible mind

On long, taxing cycling expeditions there are lonely stretches with just you, the cycle and the road. At such times, the journey into the inner recesses of your mind comes to the fore. These periods of relentless effort in solitude are pristine. You face the multitude of fears that torment you and in mysterious ways you find the wisdom to cope with them and even set them aside. From such encounters you harness your mind to help you and not deceive you.
Our sages teach us that fame and momentary glories are only illusions. Genuine happiness lies in cultivating a mind that is not swayed by external circumstances. The sages advice a few prerequisites for building an invincible mind. One is the courage of conviction. Another is to have self-belief. Yet another is to live life just as we are with no pretensions. Making a habit of reflection and introspection helps build these prerequisites.
There are little tricks that train you to keep your mind in check. One of them is making it a habit to decide what you wish to do every morning and do every one of them. In the unlikely event of a spill over, do it the very next day. Savour the joy and accomplishment of doing what you set out too. You cultivate unshakeable resolve in this way.
Preparing for a sporting event or following a fitness routine is a good training ground for controlling the mind. Never fall short of what you set out to do in each session. The mind has insidious ways of taking hold of your life. It offers several perfectly logical reasons to interfere with your training routines and preparation. Over time you develop not just your fitness but also a mind that works for you.
Desert500 5
At the Desert 500 ultra-cycling event in 2016 I was unsure if I should take part in the 250 kilometres ride or the less taxing 150 kilometre ride. Well-meaning friends suggested that I opt for the less taxing ride considering my age and fitness level. I kept wavering between the challenge of 250 or the safer 150 kilometres. My mind deliberately kept me in this quandary till I firmly resolved on the bigger challenge. Gurus call this the power of positive intention.
On event day I set out to complete 250 kms come what may. You are asking for trouble if you waver in intent. Our fears and self-doubts limit us.
My mind continued to torment me with various reasons to stop ahead of 250 kilometres, I just brushed these distractions aside. At the finish I was in pain and exhausted, but I savoured the joy of accomplishment for a long time.
Through similar challenging events, I developed a mind that assisted me in challenging times rather than play tricks with me and dominate me.
#fitness challenge #active ageing #wellness #well being #healing #mental health #strong mind

My fitness challenge

I am rebuilding fitness with outdoor workouts after over three months, tough for a seventy plus. Just back from an easy 5 kilometre jog/walk.

I jog/walk for 5 kilometres and cycle at an easy pace for 25 kilometres twice a week for each of these activities and do strength/flexibility workouts thrice a week. This will be my routine in June as I ease into my usual fitness levels and then I will increase the workload. Working out on the same course each time helps me monitor improvements in cardio fitness and recovery. I’ll build endurance as time goes by.

I am doing well so far and happy with the progress.

Super senior 65 + are welcome to join me in this fitness challenge. I would love to share progress with interested enthusiasts game for a challenge.
I want to complete a half marathon whenever such events are possible at a modest timing of 2 1/2 hours or better. We can take part in our respective locations when we can and share and encourage each other. Posting your progress and journey on my Facebook page, Celebrating Active Ageing at this link will encourage everyone who takes part.

My athletic friends, who are senior citizen ironmen and serial marathoners, are way above this modest challenge. I am sure their encouragement and tips and suggestions to all who take up the challenge will be helpful. I know all of them love to encourage others to take part in the thrilling journey of challenging oneself at any age.
#active ageing #senior citizen fitness #fitness challenge #wellness #well being #healthy living

Re-inventing myself-Vision

The decisions I make at 70 will differ from those I made at 60. Post Covid 19, the way we look at life changes even more. Adapting to the new normal, we can stay positive and welcome all opportunities for remaining joyful and vibrant. We have earned the right to be cheerful.
Challenging adventures and travel bring joy and a sense of accomplishment and achievement, essential for a feeling of wellbeing. These activities may be curbed for people above the age of 65, denying us rich experiences and the benefits that go with it. We need to find new learning experiences in music, language, hobbies and knowledge enhancement which will bring a sense of accomplishment and help keep mental agility.
It will be fun venturing into activities and challenges that go beyond my comfort zone.
Staying fit is mandatory. My favourite modes of fitness are cycling and walking/jogging. I love these outdoor routines and don’t expect restrictions for extended lengths of time. I dream of participating in challenging events at eighty and hope to be fit enough to compete with a few months of additional training when the need arises. Lurking at the back of my mind is the urge to complete a full marathon as soon as possible.
The digital world is a haven of information, learning opportunities, games and other entertainment. Digital literacy and comfort helps broaden our engagement with the world and staying connected with family and friends, very necessary facets of life.
My spiritual journey is a constant source of inspiration and self-development. A few decades of practicing Nichiren Buddhism has given me a beautiful life philosophy and a sense of purpose in life. I need to do more community and social service. It’s difficult to find the right platform, but I will challenge myself with the help of friends and organisations I know.
The next steps in the journey are to decide, with clarity, all that I aspire to achieve in this decade. With tons of gratitude for all the splendid things in life, I look forward to the years to come.
#active ageing #retirement #wellbeing #wellness #healing #healty lifestyle

Re-inventing myself – Attitude

I am 71 and it’s time to start afresh. Last year would have been more appropriate as I entered the seventh decade of my life, but the cyclothon from Chennai to Delhi consumed me. Now the corona virus brought this enduring pursuit into focus.

Every stage of life requires its own mindset and pivotal areas. The right attitude to life at each stage is crucial. The seventh decade of life is no exception. I found this guidance in Buddhist literature very meaningful.
“The final four or five years of one’s life are decisive. No matter how good the preceding years may have been, one’s life ends in defeat and sadness if the final years are miserable. On the other hand, someone whose last few years are happy and filled with joy can be described a winner in life. No matter what happens, even if one should fall sick, we must never grow discouraged or allow ourselves to be defeated. This is vital. As long as our spirits are undefeated, we are victors.”

I dont think I have entered the last few years of my life. We never can tell, but I never let this worry me. However, the attitude never to be defeated in spirit makes us winners is the attitude I will continue to cultivate.

How can we be happy and filled with joy at all times no matter what difficulties, physical, mental or emotional, we may face? Joy, gratitude and appreciation comes from accepting oneself, a coming to terms with oneself. This is not a passive acceptance of unfulfilled aspirations but a positive acceptance that every one of us is worthy of respect. Breaking past excessive concern for the self we can lead a vibrant life making every day and every hour count.

The final years of our lives is not a time to be a recluse. We can and must experience the joy and simplicity of life by doing all the things we love to do. Reaching out to others and encouraging and bringing joy into their lives is another arena that will bring rich dividends through the treasures of the heart.
#active ageing #healing #wellness #well being #ageing #healthy lifestyle #retirement

Unlocking in the time of COVID 19

My cycle stood forlorn and dusty for months at our home in Delhi. Abundant precaution was necessary during the early stages of the COVID 19 pandemic, mindful of high risk family members. We learned as the weeks rolled by, and when restrictions of movement on the roads was lifted, the time had come to give in to the nagging urge to get back to cycling.
It was an exhilarating feeling to be back on the saddle, albeit for a short, easy paced ride.

Ah for fresh adventures. Time now to re-build fitness and endurance. Additional challenges beckon. An indoor maintenance fitness routine may ensure that I don’t take too much time getting back to the desired fitness levels. This is the primary focus now. Challenges a plenty will come calling at the right time and when the ubiquitous corona virus permits.
Physical fitness routines are such an important part of staying fit as one ages that it hurts if one cannot use favourite modes of staying fit. There was, naturally, a fear that it will be a long haul getting back to the right fitness if the lock down continued for much longer.
The COVID 19 is leading to a re-accessing of life and drawing up fresh goals as we face the new normal. Income levels are changing and so also life styles. Adapting, adjusting, seeking fresh challenges calls for a new active ageing agenda. No time like NOW to start anew.
#COVID 19 #lock down #healthy living #active ageing #ageing #cycling #healing #wellness #well being

Benefitting from inter-generational interactions

I learned an important aspect of caring for disadvantaged sections of society during a visit to an ashram in Chitradurga, Karnataka.

At the ashram there was a shelter home for senior citizens and also a school for orphaned children. The proximity of the elderly and the children was clearly beneficial to both groups. The children benefited form the mature presence of the elderly and the elderly from the hope filled aspirations and vibrancy of the children.

I saw a similar experience in a home for women in Davengere where elderly women and young orphaned girls stayed together at the ashram.The close proximity of the elderly and the young was clearly beneficial at this ashram as well.

In the course of my cycling expedition from Chennai to Delhi in the first quarter of 2019, I visited quite a few shelter homes for the elderly. These two, where there was inter-generational influences, stood out for the warmth and the atmosphere of the homes.

Inter-generational interactions on a regular basis at various forums such as at schools,within families,at shelter homes and even in institutions appears to be a useful form of interaction for sharing values, accepting change and building a culture of inclusiveness and acceptance of diversity.
#care for elderly #inter-generation #healing #senior citizens #wellness