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Some tips to stay fit this monsoon

The lush greenery and overcast skies might rev up some spirits. But for others, the rains aggravate body aches and cause fatigue or lethargy. Phorum Dalal talks to experts who decode these arguably psychosomatic reactions and suggest ways to stay in shape this season

Call it a psychosomatic reaction, lethargy or feeling under the weather — the monsoon often causes that old knee injury, shoulder pain or body ache to resurface.

Here’s how you can get the better of the rains and not let it bog you down.

Mumbai monsoon special: Reign in the rains

Don’t fret about the weather
In a recent study in Netherlands, titled ‘Self-perceived weather sensitivity and joint pain in older people with osteoarthritis in six European countries’, one of the analysis discusses how seasonal weather patterns affect pain perception in weather-sensitive people.

Monsoon health tips
Stretching before and after a workout prevents injuries and relaxes the body. An instructor guides an exerciser in Talwalkars Gym at Vile Parle. Pic/Atul Kamble

“Additionally, weather patterns may influence mood in certain individuals and thereby indirectly affect pain perception,” the report, which was published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, says.

Dr Gautam Shetty, consulting orthopaedic surgeon and research director, Qi Spine Clinic, says, “Weather doesn’t affect pain directly, it changes pain perception in more anxious people. Since a lot of patients complain about their pains aggravating, we recommend them to check their vitamin D levels, which drop in the rainy season due to lack of outdoor physical activity and exposure to sunlight. Low levels lead to lethargy, tiredness and aches. And, in Mumbai, Vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic. Every second person suffers from it. It is better to take precautionary shots before hand after getting their Vitamin D levels checked.”

Bask in sunlight
Every time the skies clear, expose yourself to the sun and soak in the Vitamin D. While the bright yellow hues will lift your spirits, it will also kill germs and bacteria.

Mumbai has a love-hate relationship with the rains, according to Dr Yusuf Matcheswala, psychiatrist at Masina Hospital, Byculla. “People undergo post-traumatic stress, fear and anxiety due to past events of flooding and loss. Even if it rains a little, people want to rush into the comfort of their homes. Others have a phobia of lightening and thunder. If they reside in dilapidated buildings, then they fear water leakage, building collapse or falling ill,” he says.

Monsoon health tips
A participant at a workshop conducted by Nupur Shikare, fitness consultant and trainer, who runs Fitnessism 

In the dark months, energy levels, too, slump, leaving a feeling of lethargy and fatigue. “To curb weather-related anxiety levels, one should speak of one’s fear, allow near ones to counsel you and keep yourself happy, by looking at the bright side — think of the comfort foods, long drives and folksongs,” says Dr Matcheswala.

Sweat the lethargy away
Humidity levels shoot up by 80 to 90 per cent in the rains. The energy levels are sluggish because it slows down the liver’s function of eliminating toxins and excess fluids. This leads to headaches, nausea, swelling, dizziness, liver inflammation, and constipation. Dr Anil Ballani, consulting general physician at Hinduja Healthcare Surgical says, “Everyone must drink three litres of water every day. People in the age group of 30 to 45 years should opt for aerobic exercises to beat the stress. Also, these can be done easily at home. Joint, muscle and backaches occur as the body feels heavy due to toxins. Once you burn calories, the toxins are flushed out of your body through perspiration, leaving you feel fresh and rejuvenated. People above 45 years should opt for cycling and walking.

Exercise and rejuvenate
While the weather may lessen your chances of sticking to your workout regime, the monsoons are a good time to try a new routine. “For those who don’t mind getting dirty, football is therapeutic. It not only exercises every muscle in your body, but also inspires team spirit and positive attitude,” says Nupur Shikare fitness consultant and trainer who runs Fitnessism. For the homebodies, a 20-minute warm up of gentle to rigorous stretching will release pains and lighten the body. During the monsoon, it is important to get adequate sleep of eight hours. This gives the body enough time to recover from mental and physical tiredness. “It is also the season to indulge in massages and steams to knead away the aches,” says Shikare.

Monsoon health tips
Dr Isha Ghelani, a spine specialist at Qi Spine Clinic, Andheri, helps a patient with back strengthening exercises. Pic/Atul Kamble

Food for mind, body, soul
Catching a cold on a wet day and the absence of sun affects your system. It slackens the metabolism and reduces immunity. “Ginger root is warming, and should be added to your green tea. Munch on dry fruits, roasted oats and cereals and boiled beans to boost your energy levels,” concludes Shikare.

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