Exercise & Workout(E & W) are physical activities where energy stored in the body is expended. When the stored energy is spent, it results in fatigue and perspiration.
Regular and balanced exercise and workout (E & W) provides for a physically fit body with free movements at all joints and appropriate blood circulation to all parts of the body. It is noteworthy that no E & W or excess E & W are both responsible for restricting the body movements which overtime may result in complete loss of movements of certain body parts.
Quite often, sports persons and people who engage in extreme adventure face painful and limited movement of certain body parts which is due to excess E & W. In other circumstances like overweight and obesity, the limitation to free movement of body parts is due to sedentary lifestyle and no E & W.
Ayurvedic texts in the context of Vyayam give a detailed explanation on E & W which describes
i. Benefits of regular & balanced E & W
ii. Eligibility criteria (excluded category) for E & W
iii. Limits (w.r.t time and strength) for balanced E & W
iv. Post E & W activity
v. Implications of excess E & W
vi. How excess E & W can be fatal
i. BENEFITS OF REGULAR AND BALANCED E &W: There are 5 benefits from a regular and well balanced E & W as
- Lightness of the body (the body parts are not heavy)
- Ability to be agile & swift
- Enables proper functioning of the digestive system
- Reduction of accumulated body fat and adipose tissue
- Provides for a strong, firm and chiselled body
ii. Eligibility criteria (exclusion category) for E & W: Those who are ineligible and restricted for E & W are
- Those suffering from disorders of Vata and Pitta
- All kids aged less than 16 years
- All those aged 70 years and above
iii. Limits (w.r.t. Time & Strength) for balanced E & W: The texts of Ayurveda clarifies what is the right quantum for a balanced E & W based on two factors. One is based on the time of the year and the second is the strength of person. Both these factors are to be considered to define the quantum for a balanced E & W.
- Those who are strong and those who consume nutritious food should exercise and workout to half their capacity* during Hemantha, Sisira and Vasanta (cold seasons and spring). In India cold season and season of spring extend from second half of November to first half of May. In the other times of the year i.e. Greesma, Varsha and Sharat (during summer, rainy season and autumn) which in India extends from second half of May to first half of November; exercise and workout has to be limited to less than half the physical capacity* of the person.
- Those who are not strong and those who do not regularly consume sumptuous and nourishing meal are required to limit exercise and work out to less than half their physical stamina*/ capacity all through out the year.
Half the stamina or Half the capacity or Half the (physical) potential is defined as the point where one begins to perspire on the head, nose bridge, armpit and between fingers & toes. It is entirely forbidden to exercise & workout till the dress is dripping wet from sweat.
iv. Post E & W activity: Exercise and workout generates fatigue. It is hence necessary to relax the body post E & W.
Gently pressing the body parts bring about the needed relaxation after the stipulated exercise and workout. It is explained by Acharya Sushruta (Chikitsasthana, chap 24, Shlolka 43) that the feet have to be gently pressed after Vyayam. The feet is also termed as Uttaraanga.
v. Implications of excess E & W: As a consequence of excess exercise and workout, one is exposed to the danger of suffering from either one or combination or all the conditions simultaneously as mentioned below
- Excessive thirst
- Respiratory disorders
- Incompetence of the motor organs (fatigue, malice, burnout)
- Incompetence of the sense organs (failing of the sense organs)
- Persistent Cough
All the above conditions which may present either in single or in combinations or all together due to excess E &W pose a serious threat to the well being of the person. Hence, one has to be conscious of the extent of exercise and workout required to avoid the breakdown of the body, mind and the sense organs due to exertion
vi. How excess E &W can be fatal: The stage where one’s E & W exceeds the threshold of one’s physical capacity or the stage where one performs E & W beyond the limits of requirement (as mentioned in point iii) as a routine is termed as excess E & W. Though one is strong, reckless exercise proves to be fatal just like a powerful lion succumbs to the blow from huge elephant.
The sudden death of those who are acknowledged as fitness freaks can be credited for not being conscious of the required limits of exercise and workout.
Keeping a tab on Exercise and workout that provide the benefits as mentioned in point (i) is what is required rather than unreasonable and impulsive exercise and workout.