Food, fitness and water workouts: Lifestyle guide to wellness during monsoon

14 June,2024 01:24 PM IST |  Mumbai  |  Ainie Rizvi

The onset of this monsoon calls for a holistic guide to maintain fitness through the 4-month long season. Fret not, we roped in fitness, wellness and Ayurveda experts who share with us handy tips to keep sickness at bay during the rain

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Pitter-patter, rain drops and sweeps us off with monsoon blues. You may ring in the Bambai ki baarish with long drives to Khandala, tapri chai and bhajiyas, tuning in to your monsoon playlist or snoring next to the window. Despite all the fun, your body has to face the brunt of lowered activity and immunity levels

Call it a psychosomatic reaction, lethargy or feeling under the weather - the monsoon season often leads to flu, indigestion, shoulder pain or body aches resurfacing. Not only this, the body also becomes prone to infections and our overall immunity is compromised.

The onset of this monsoon calls for a holistic guide to maintain fitness through the 4-month long season. Fret not, we roped in fitness, wellness and Ayurveda experts who share with us handy tips to keep sickness at bay during the rains:

Foods to eat for a stronger gut

Curd and buttermilk are beneficial during monsoons for their probiotic properties, which boost digestion and immunity. Image Courtesy: iStock

The rainy season provides a beautiful break from the scorching sun but also brings an increased risk of infections caused by various viruses and bacteria, informs Dr Nivedita Pandey, gastroenterologist and hepatologist, at Gooddeed Clinics.

These can lead to simple ailments like a runny nose, cough, diarrhea and vomiting, or more severe, life-threatening infections such as viral hepatitis or typhoid. To combat these health issues, Pandey shares dietary recommendations to boost immunity and maintain energy levels during monsoon:

1. Avoid street foods, especially uncooked items like golgappa and chaat, as well as juices like sugarcane or fruit juice.
2. If you must eat out, always choose cooked food and avoid salads and chutneys served with your meal.
3. Include fermented foods in your diet, as they are rich in beneficial bacteria that improve colon health and boost immunity.
4. Consume plenty of buttermilk and yoghurt and consider including South Indian cuisine items like idli and rasam.
5. Eat seasonal fruits like jamun, mangoes and melons, which are rich in vitamin C and enhance immunity.
6. Avoid eating leafy vegetables during the rainy season as they spoil easily.
7. Steer clear of oily and greasy meals, which take longer to digest and can increase fatigue.
8. Drink chana sattu mixed with lemon and cumin to stay hydrated and ensure adequate protein intake in your diet.

While boiled and well-cooked cruciferous veggies such as broccoli and cauliflower are encouraged, leafy greens contain a lot of contamination and are infection-prone and must be avoided. Fibres are important for our bowel movements. To help the gut, add more fibre, probiotics and prebiotics.

Since immunity and digestive power are deeply impacted during the monsoon, eat food that is easier to digest. Add triphala, haritaki, tulsi, guduchi, amalaki to aid the digestive system and stick to meal times without munching in between meals. To maintain gut health, the three vital aspects are normal bowel movement, good fibre intake and healthy gut flora.

Have buttermilk at lunch and add a tadka of hing, zeera, kadi patta to soup and veggies to make them more digestible. Junk and heavy, oily food can aggravate the pitta [acidic fire] in the body, so reduce the intake of gravies and deep-fried dishes and restrain your meat intake. A chicken soup is good in the season, but red meat would be too heavy for the body to digest.

Workouts to try during monsoon

Monsoon weather often leads to reduced outdoor activity, promoting a sedentary lifestyle. However, simple home exercises like pilates, bodyweight workouts and stretching can help maintain fitness during this period. Celebrity trainers share with us two basic workouts to try this monsoon:

Pedalling exercise for glutes and obliques
1. Lie flat on your back. Bring your knees up to a 90-degree angle and press your lower back to the floor.
2. Raise your heels until they are in level with your knees and slowly begin to "pedal". Now put your hands behind your head. Do not link the fingers; elbows should be even with your ears.
3. Lift your head as if you are beginning a crunch. While still "pedalling", touch your right elbow to the left knee, then your left elbow to the right knee. Your upper torso should move diagonally across your body with your elbow. This motion works the obliques, while the movement of the legs engages the rectus abdominus. Remember to breathe evenly throughout the exercise.
4. Don't pull on your head. Your lower back should remain on the floor to maintain proper positioning. If your back arches off the floor, it could cause undue strain. To make the abdominal exercises easier on your body without losing effectiveness, raise your heels.

Walking lunges for rear strength and flexibility with the back leg
1. Stand tall with your shoulders back and down, and abdominal engaged, place feet together. Your arms can be flat by your side, or holding your hips or behind your head.
2. Breathing normally, step forward with your right foot, bending both knees so that your front knee is aligned over your ankle and the back knee comes close to the floor. Your back heel is lifted off the floor.
3. Before your back knee touches the floor, push up with your back left leg, forcing the weight of your body through your right heel, simultaneously bringing your left foot together with your right foot.
4. Without pausing, alternate legs, lunge forward with your left foot, bending both knees so that your front knee is aligned with your ankle and the back knee comes close to the floor. Your back heel is lifted off the floor.
5. Before your back knee touches the floor, push up with your back right leg, forcing the weight of your body through your left heel, simultaneously bringing your right foot together with your left foot.
6. Continue to perform the steps above, alternating legs for 20 steps and increasing the steps as you get stronger.

Also Read: Commuting by Mumbai local trains during monsoons? Mumbaikars share fashion, travel hacks

Swimming pool workouts to try this monsoon

Swimming is an exceptional full-body workout that can be easily tailored to various fitness levels and goals, informs Aman Puri, Founder of Steadfast Nutrition, a Mumbai-based sports and wellness nutrition brand. Besides being a fantastic way to stay cool during the scorching summer months, swimming also burns more calories than many land-based exercises. Puri breaks down east swimming exercises you can try this monsoon to enhance your fitness routine.

1. Freestyle swimming

Freestyle, also known as front crawl, is the most popular stroke and is excellent for cardiovascular fitness. This stroke involves a combination of alternating arm movements and a flutter kick, making it perfect for overall muscle strengthening. Specifically, freestyle targets the arms, shoulders, and core muscles.

Freestyle swimming improves cardiovascular health, builds muscular endurance, and enhances overall body coordination. It's an efficient way to burn calories and increase stamina.

2. Backstroke workout

Backstroke is another effective exercise, primarily focusing on the upper body, including the arms, shoulders, and back. It also helps improve posture and spine alignment. Unlike freestyle, you swim on your back, which can be more relaxing while still providing a robust workout.

Backstroke strengthens the muscles of the upper body and core, enhances flexibility, and improves your posture. It's also an excellent stroke for those with back issues, as it helps in spine alignment and reduces strain on the back.

3. Walk in water

Walking in water is a good swimming workout to start with - it strengthens your arms, core, and lower body. The intensity of the exercise can be increased by using hand or ankle weights.

4. Interval training

Interval training is a favoured choice among swimmers because it allows them to adjust the intensity of their workout as their fitness improves. Swimmers can customise the number of laps and rest intervals to match their skill level. The key is to maintain a pattern of alternating between high and low efforts.
Consistent interval training enhances cardiovascular conditioning, increases muscle strength, and boosts endurance. It's an effective way to break through fitness plateaus and improve overall swimming performance.

5. Butterfly stroke

The butterfly stroke is the most challenging and intense swimming stroke, providing a superb workout for the entire body, particularly the upper body and core. It involves a dolphin kick paired with synchronised arm movements.

The butterfly stroke builds significant strength and endurance, especially in the shoulders, chest, and core. It also improves flexibility and coordination, making it an excellent full-body workout.

6. Sprint Interval workout

Sprint intervals are an efficient workout to boost swimming speed, power, and anaerobic capacity. These high-intensity exercises require maximum effort for short bursts, followed by rest or low-intensity swimming.

Sprint intervals enhance cardiovascular fitness, increase muscle power, and improve anaerobic capacity. This method also helps in developing fast-twitch muscle fibres, essential for explosive movements.

7. Kickboard workouts

Kickboard workouts are excellent for improving leg strength and kicking technique. By using a kickboard, you can isolate your lower body, aiding in more efficient and faster swimming.

Kickboard workouts enhance leg endurance, power, and flexibility. They also help in refining your kicking technique, making you a more efficient swimmer.

Additional tips for effective swimming workouts

Staying hydrated is crucial, even while swimming. Make sure you drink water before, during, and after your workout to prevent dehydration.

Warm-up and cool-down:
Always include a warm-up and cool-down in your routine to prepare your body for exercise and aid in recovery.

Incorporating a variety of swimming activities into your summer fitness program keeps your workouts interesting and provides numerous health benefits. Whether your goal is to boost endurance, build strength, or improve technique, swimming can help you achieve it. Dive into the pool this summer and enjoy a refreshing, full-body workout with swimming.

Also Read: Follow this quick fashion guide to help you brave the rains in style

Lessons from the books of Ayurveda
Further, Dr Sudha Asokan, Founder of Dr Sudha's Ayurveda Kendra informs that monsoons can lead to bad digestion, body aches and terrible immunity. "This damp season is ideal for Panchakarma which refers to the cleansing of the body. The increased moisture helps expel toxins, while Abhyangam (massage) and Pizhichil (oil pouring) loosen them for elimination through therapies like Vamana (therapeutic vomiting) or Basti (enemas)."

To keep monsoon-prone diseases at bay Indian spices serve as as precautionary ingredients. He recommends warming spices such as ginger, garlic, pepper, turmeric and tulsi. "They are respiratory herbs. Cooking spices like rosemary, turmeric, coriander, garlic and cloves have medicinal value and can be used to light the digestive fire. A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with warm water is also a great addition. Use herbs and spices to make herbal teas and tissanes.

Interestingly, monsoon is a time to put fresh juices on hold and cut consumption of raw foods. This is mostly due to unhygienic handling during the rains. "If you can ensure the vegetables are thoroughly cleaned, a small amount is permissible. Carrots and cucumbers are okay as the outer layer gets peeled, but broccoli and cauliflower should not be consumed raw. Also, if you must, then choose chaas over yoghurt.

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