Understand your body and how far you can go.
HOW DO WE PREVENT RISK DURING EXERCISE?
There are two types of risk that may occur during exercise — musculoskeletal injury and cardiovascular complication. It is advisable to undergo medical screening or seek medical advice before exercising to detect pre-existing conditions. Get any medical condition stabilised beforehand.
Start with light exercises and increase gradually over weeks or months.
Also, spread the duration of exercise over three to five days in a week. Try to avoid vigorous exercises if you are unaccustomed to exercise which may cause musculoskeletal injury or adverse heart problems.
Don't forget to wear proper attire during exercise and start with warm-ups and stretching.
HOW DOES ONE DETERMINE ONE’S EXERCISE INTENSITY?
Intensity of exercise is a measure of how hard you perform in an exercise. Normally, the harder you exercise, the faster your heart beats, breathing is more rapid and your speed also increases.
Generally, exercise intensity is classified from low, to moderate to intense. Exercises have their METs (metabolic equivalent) value. Slow walking and household activity are low intensity (METs less than 3).
Brisk walking, hiking, badminton, walking during golf, table tennis and cycling (less than 15km/h) are moderate intensity (3-6 METs). Jogging, running, swimming, hiking at steep gradients, cycling more than 15km/h) are vigorous intensity.
Another method is to use a heart rate monitor. The talk and sing test is another easy method. If you can sing and talk while exercising, that means the exercise is low intensity, if you are able to talk but unable to sing, it’s moderate intensity and finally, if you are unable to talk and sing, that’s vigorous intensity.
IS IT BAD TO PARTICIPATE IN MARATHONS, ULTRA-MARATHONS OR IRONMAN EVENTS FOR WHICH THE PREPARATION IS MORE THAN 150 MINUTES PER WEEK?
Any exercise is better than no exercise. The higher the intensity and duration of exercise, the better the health outcome. There is no evidence to say that engaging in high intensity or long periods of exercise is bad for our health.
Training for such events lasts for more than five hours and sometime 12 hours.
It is advisable for those who want to participate in this kind of endurance exercises to prepare well and ensure you are well-hydrated before, during and after the event. And let the body to recover fully after any long endurance exercise.
An avid sportsman who believes in the healing power of exercise, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ahmad Taufik Jamil is Universiti Teknologi Mara’s public health consultant and exercise physician. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org