By Sreekumar Raghavan
Recently, the World Heart Day (September 29) was celebrated in many countries by holding Zumbathons and Aerobics sessions to create awareness about the benefits of exercise and planned physical training activity to make your heart healthy.
Until the early half of the twentieth century, most deaths worldwide were caused by communicable diseases such as cholera, plague, tuberculosis, malaria and others. However, in the past few decades, non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardio-vascular disease and cancer have emerged as leading causes of all mortality for mankind.
Sedentary life style, fat-rich, oily or fried foods, emotional stress at home, workplace or business, pollution levels have all created havoc on our health. No wonder people succumb to heart ailments, endocrinal disorders at a young age with the consequent impact on their quality of life and work.
Now cardiologists have concluded that physical activity at any age is vital to maintain a healthy heard and be mentally healthy as well. Daily activities of washing clothes, car, walking, climbing stairs all burn calories at varying levels but they aren’t sufficient to keep you healthy. You need planned fitness aerobic programs coupled with at least one of the following aerobic activities – cycling, walking, running, swimming , and selected sport activities such as playing basketball and Golf.
Here are six reasons why Zumba and Aerobics are prescribed by Cardiologists:
- It brings more oxygen to your cells
Zumba and Aerobics are activities that help your body breathe in more oxygen which are vital for cells to convert food stuffs into energy. Oxygen is the flame that ignites the fuel or food in our body to give energy to our organs and cells. Unlike fat, protein or glucose, oxygen can’t be stored in the body. It has to be replenished throughout the day even when you are asleep.
- Burns calories faster
Aerobic activities that begin with a 6-minute warm-up, followed by vigorous dance fitness routines and ending with a five minute cool-down for an hour can burn upto 800 calories. It burns fat and builds lean body mass consisting of muscles, bones, joints and other vital organs. This helps in maintaining a higher metabolism rate compared to people who have more fat than muscles. This helps in maintaining ideal body weight and vitals.
- Reduces Heart Rate:
Aerobic activities bring more oxygen into the body and exhales less of oxygen each time. The blood vessels increase in numbers and get bigger pushing more blood in each systolic push. It also brings down both systolic and diastolic blood pressure thus necessitating the heart to beat lesser even during stress times. Lungs are able to process more air to send more oxygen as per the requirements of cells and organs.
- It helps in beating stress
The greatest benefit of aerobics and Zumba is the general feeling of happiness, relaxation and joy. As more oxygen and blood is pumped to the nervous system, it helps fight depression, anxiety, worries and tensions, emotional outbursts of anger. Coping with stress has an important bearing on reducing risk of heart disease, stroke and endocrinal problems.
- It helps tone the muscles and joints
Aerobics involves active movement of arms, legs, thighs, shoulders and hips there by giving a toned look and shape for your muscles at the same time not building heavy muscle mass as in strength or weight training in the gym. It helps strengthen the heart muscles, and also enlarges the arteries helping it get more oxygen as per demand.
6.Reduces the risk of heart attack & keep diabetes in control
Aerobics helps in reducing the build- up plaque in the arteries and narrowing of it due to excess cholesterol in blood especially the bade one, low density lipoprotein (LDL) while boosting High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol in the system. The obstruction of arteries due to plaque is the major reason for heart attacks. Several cases have been reported about patients being discontinued medication in type II diabetes mellitus.
In general, aerobics and Zumba help ward of virus and bacterial attacks as all vital systems are healthy to counter any eventuality.
Cardio Vascular Diseases which was once a problem for developed nations has now become a major issue in emerging nations as well. In India, CVD death rate is 272 per one lakh population compared to world average of 235. World Health Organization has identified insufficient physical activity as a major reason for rising incidence of heart diseases. Apart from planned aerobics or Zumba fitness programs, people of all age groups could actively engage in various other aerobic activities such as cycling, walking, swimming running and certain sports events. However, they must be done for an optimal number of hours per week to get the desired training effect.
Dr Kenneth H Cooper had way back in 1968 in his best seller Aerobics presented a list of aerobic activities based on oxygen intake involved. If you achieve 30 points by combining the listed activities, you remain fit and healthy for life.
WHO has recommended 150 minutes of moderately intensive aerobics activity per week to keep fit and remain healthy. According to Dr Aaron Baggish, Cardiologist and fitness expert at Harvard affiliated Massachussets General Hospital, physical activity is desirable at any age. The more fitter and active you are, the more lengthier will be your life span.
By Edward R Laskowski, MD of Mayo Clinic, USA:
“An aerobic activity, Zumba can count toward the 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity recommended for most healthy adults by the Department of Health and Human Services. Aerobic exercise reduces health risks, keeps excess pounds at bay, strengthens your heart and boosts your mood. If you enjoy Zumba, you’re also more likely to do it regularly — and experience its benefits as an aerobic exercise.”
Books to read
Aerobics by Kenneth H Cooper (Bantam Books, 1968)
Ageless Body, Timeless Mind by Dr Deepak Chopra
Below: Renowned TV, Film star Shweta Menon performing at Zumbathon organised by Malayala Manorama and Medical Trust Hospital on Sept 25 in Kochi. She inaugurated by releasing heart shaped baloons in the air as thousands joined her to understand the benefits of aerobics programs for a healthy heart.