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Fit at Fifty

We have often heard a lot of people saying that 'age is just a number' and I guess its true to an extent. Staying healthy and fit to my mind should be everyone's top priority. How can we forget that old adage - ' A healthy mind stays in a healthy body' !
Fitness to me is a state of mind and I can without much deliberation attribute my own health and endurance levels to regular practice of martial arts. The journey into martial arts began when I was about 15 years of age when I picked up Karate which I would practice 3 days a week. Time passed by but my love for martial arts stayed kindled without a flicker , such is its addiction. I was a regular martial arts movie buff and would not miss a chance to see Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan movies which would then be screened mostly in morning shows. The effect of the movies would be so intense that I would pick a few things from there and include it in my daily practice regimen like rope climbing from that famous scene where Bruce Lee does first class rope while in Mr Han's palace and also punching in hot stones and water , inspired from various Shaolin movies. Infact when I look into retrospect I feel that martial arts as a way of life helped me sail smoothly through the tough army training.
As I grew in age and wisdom I undertook learning of various other martial arts training from the best teachers in discipline like - Commando Combat System , Krav Maga , Law Enforcement , Knife Fighting , Reality Based Self Defence , Kali and Kapap.
I think it is because of my martial arts and Army background that I have managed to stay fit to this day. And it is not only a feeling but there are tangibles to it , like I can undertake some tough exercises , do more reps , my performance in motorcycling with podium finishes and much more speak volumes about it.
Here I would like to list down a few things which may help you live a healthier and fitter life :

  1. Wake up early - Try and leave your bed by 0430 hrs but not later than 0500 hrs. This will help you inculcate discipline and tame your body by making it listen to you. But this will follow only if you retire to your bed in time and not stay awake till late night. You may also have to rigorously adhere to timing to switch off your WiFi or cell phone and stay away from distractions.
  2. Hydrate & Stretch - First thing in the morning before you leave bed should be to gulp down some water and hydrate your body after say 7-8 hours . Then get out of your bed and stretch your spine and do some mobility workout for all your major joints like neck , shoulders, elbow, hip and knee.
  3. Exercise - Next in the agenda should be a 45 min to 1 hr workout. You may start with running , brisk walking , trail running or hike. Push Ups, Squats, Pull Ups (if possible) and Planks are a must do exercise on regular basis. If running is a constraint then go cycling or if that is also not possible then do Burpees, Mountain Climbers as cardio followed by other exercises. Always remember to have a mix of following exercises in your daily regimen - cardio, strengthening, stretching and cool down. There are umpteen fitness sites and YouTube videos to pick what you want but it ain't that complicated actually, the idea is to sweat it out and feel energized. I rely on the following exercises majorly a) Run or Skip b) Jumping Jacks c) Burpees d) Mountain Climbers e) Push Ups (various variations) f) Planks g) Chin Ups h) Squats i) Ab crunches j) Side Squats k) Hand Stand with or without support l) Kettle Bell workout
  4. Diet - Do not get trapped by preserved food as they are logically and also scientifically not fresh and are preserved using preservatives . The fad for foreign fruits and food has also grown in our country but believe you me , nature is methodical and the best mother which provides you the food which you should be eating in a given environment or geography. It is not a good idea to search for apples when you have watermelons in abundance ,  the underline here is 'eat seasonal stuff'. Recently I was introduced to intermittent fasting by a friend 'Shalinie' who is a nutritionist and a martial arts practitioner. The whole concept of 'intermittent fasting' is amazing and helps your body not get overloaded, calories burn faster and result is a leaner and fitter you. The basic underline is that you must space out your dinner and breakfast over atleast 12 hrs. So if you wind up your dinner by 1900 hrs you should eat your breakfast not before 0900 hrs, later the better. Eat only when you feel hungry and do not look at the clock to eat.
  5. Meditation - This is another essential but often ignored aspect of healthy living. Another student and friend Rashmi Gupta sensitized me to the various pros of meditation . Though we have mediation as part of martial arts training but then Yoga gives you a deeper perspective of the same . About 30 minutes of meditation will help you relax your mind, to be with yourself , improves your focus and gives you an immense sense of self control. Best part is that it is no rocket science - just sit anywhere away from distractions, keep your spine straight , shut your eyes and let thoughts come and go , do not struggle with your mind just flow with it , atleast this is what i know mediation is about.
  6. Lifestyle - Last but not the least let health and fitness be a 'way of life'. It should come naturally to you and should not be a struggle. I see so many people joining gym and fitness classes and then giving up on them as quickly because it did not become a way of their life.
I would like to end by saying that fitness does not require special equipment or environment or even special foods and diet - eat in moderation, eat healthy and what is seasonal and exercise regularly - atleast 3-4 days a week. This is what I have been following and I feel quite content and fit.

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