Exercises for homemakers & homebound people

You don’t get what you wish for; you get what you work for! So, if you really want to be healthy, you have to work for it. Surprisingly what most people think is that doing daily household chores’ are good enough exercises for their body and brain too. However, as you age, you begin to lose muscle mass and gain more fat. Your weight-bearing joints i.e. spine and knees start wearing off under your weight. Household chores are not enough to stave off the ravages of ageing!

The biggest myth is that walking is a good exercise for your knees and spine; well then why would so many patients need joint replacements and spine surgeries? Any exercise or activity in which you are standing, is going to wear off your knees and spine. Also, walking burns very few calories; an hour-long walk will burn only about 300 calories; while doing more compound exercises, you can burn twice as many calories in half the time. These exercises must only be done under the supervision of a certified trainer, and after consulting your doctor, who will explain the dos and don’ts.

Often, people get into a sudden vigorous activity like Zumba, dancing or cross-fit, and end up injuring their knees in the process. You have to start slow, build the foundation, make sure to avoid injury and then go ahead. Regular exercise not only changes your body, but it also changes your mind, your attitude and your mood; you feel great after exercising. The biggest hurdle to overcome is time; in today’s hectic lifestyle it is necessary to best utilize whatever time you get. The aim is to exercise as many muscles at one time as possible, to stimulate them, which in turn increases your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)that helps you to burn more calories.

Compound Exercises work on multiple muscle groups at the same time. Commonest examples are half squats, shoulder press or deadlifts. A set of dumbbells or kettlebells would be very helpful. Compound exercises help in;

  • Efficient use of your time
  • Burning more calories
  • Elevating heart rate
  • Improving strength and gain muscle mass

You can perform a certain compound exercise at homes, such as half squads, Suryanamskar,  rotations of legs/ hands, and shoulder press to name a few. The above-mentioned exercises can be performed by any age group.

90% of the patients in our OPD come for low backache and knee pain. To take care of your knees and spine, you need to do the following under the guidance of a certified trainer;

  • Leg extensions with weights– this is the best exercise to build your knee muscles
  • Back extension exercises like the Superman pose, Bhujangasan, Naukasan should be done on a daily basis; this, especially since all the work we do, is while bending forwards never backwards!

Another note of caution is that when you get up from squatting position, the pressure on your joints (knee and spine) is almost twice your body weight, so we must avoid sitting on the ground, squatting or sitting cross-legged, especially if you haven’t done so for a very long time.

However, physical exercise alone is not enough, mental wellbeing is important too. Regular physical exercise will to some extent help maintain mental health. Meditation, breathing exercises, pursuing music or dancing – pretty much anything that makes you happy, will help build mental strength.

Will it be easy – NO! Will it be worth it?? Absolutely, YES!

Inputs by Dr. Manish Sontakke, Consultant, Bone & Joint Surgery, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi- A Fortis Network Hospital