Prepare your body for a rounded exercise regimen with stationary cycling.

I’m 51 years old; 5 feet, 4 inches tall; and weigh 70 kg. I work for a bank, and am mostly seated during working hours. I’ve never exercised. I want to join an exercise or yoga class, but my wife feels that I won’t spend any time at home. Please suggest some home-exercises, or an instrument I can buy. Can I try skipping?

Lakshmana Rao

Forget skipping. It puts undue pressure on the joints. Get yourself a stationary exercise bicycle. Ensure that it is sturdy and doesn’t shake when you sit on it. Buy either a mini cycle — a small contraption that can be hooked to your armchair; or a cycle with an attached chair; or one with a broad, well-upholstered seat. It must be comfortable so that you feel like getting on to it day after day.

Adjust the seat’s height to your comfort level, and keep the resistance at zero. When you pedal, the pedals should fly under your feet. This way, you build your stamina and strength without the legs getting heavy and muscles tiring.

Every morning, cycle for 20 minutes at 80-100 revolutions per minute for five days a week. For three months, do no other exercise except cycling. Once you’re habituated to this schedule, you can add 20 shoulder shrugs, abdominal crunches, torso twists and neck rolls. Simultaneously, drink 1.5 litres of water daily, include a salad in your meals, and cut out fried foods.

Just exercising regularly and watching your intake will soon have you feeling and looking slimmer, fitter, and younger. Another tip: Walk for 30 minutes during your lunch hour. It’s a great break and prevents an afternoon slump.

I’m 18 and a sportsperson. Since the past few months, I’ve been getting a headache in the afternoon after attending college. I exercise daily and follow a healthy diet—no fast food, colas and ice creams. I also keep getting acidity. Can you suggest a solution?

Yamani

The headache could be due to either of two reasons: Eyestrain or acidity.

For eyestrain, get your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist. Whether you need glasses or not, follow these simple measures:

After each class, rub your hands together until warm and place warmed palms on your closed eyelids. Hold until you feel they’re relaxed. Then squeeze your eyes shut 10-15 times until they moisten. Blink with moist eyes 100 times. Blinks clean the eyes and act as gentle massages. In the evening, lie down with your eyes closed, and place a handkerchief soaked in chilled tea on your eyelids.

For acidity, have isabgol with plenty of water at night for 10 days to cleanse your stomach thoroughly the next morning. Chew your food thoroughly — saliva is alkaline and neutralises acidic food. Don’t keep your stomach empty for long hours as that creates acidity. Avoid spicy foods. Good antacid foods are curd-rice, banana, boiled beetroot, carrot, boiled potato, turmeric, avocado, and strawberries. Sip on cool milk. Add fresh tulsi leaves to your salad, or drink tulsi green tea. You could also have a pudinahara capsule after every meal. It prevents acidity and headache.

Finally, relax. It’s possible you’re leading an overactive life and are tensed up. During breaks, consciously loosen your shoulders with a few back-shrugs, do a few neck rolls, and raise your eyebrows five times to relax your forehead.

Ever since I delivered my second child 10 years ago, I’ve had lax abdominal muscles which I’ve tried to control with moderate and varied, if not very regular exercises. I’m 40; 5 feet, 5 inches tall; and weigh 59 kg. Although I’m slim, my tummy protrudes and feels bloated after a meal. Please suggest some exercises. I read about diastasis recti, but don’t know if that’s my condition. Does eating rice cause a pot belly?

Srividhya

A: Diastasis recti is a condition where the abdomen’s frontal corset-like muscles which normally meet mid-stomach — and even create the 6-pack look — separate and cause a bulge in the gap. Thankfully, it’s not a health hazard, just cosmetic. Sit-ups and crunches don’t help flatten the bulge. What would help are abdominal flexors which you can do whether you have the diastasis recti condition or not:

Lie on the floor on your back, knees bent, feet flat on floor. Place hands on top of each other on your lower stomach. Flex abdominal muscles so that your hands move down, and your stomach becomes concave and tight. Hold the flexed position for 1 minute. Relax for 1 minute. Repeat this abdominal tightening exercise 3 to 5 times.

In the same lying down position, cycle in the air by moving your legs alternately — 20 to 30 times.

Some people do feel bloated when they eat rice, some don’t — it’s individual. After a meal, have a small bowl of curd mixed with hingashtak churan for 10 days. It’s very effective for bloats and is available at any chemist.

The writer is author of the book Fitness for Life.

Queries may be sent to life@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on October 18, 2012)
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