An expert’s view on fitness during lock down era
Sapna Khanna, 49 years, a fitness coach, athlete, model and winner of the title Ms Fitness India 2018 at the age of 48. She is a fitness enthusiast since school time. Being a sportsperson, Sports Captain in school and being an Army kid, fitness and discipline has been an in- trinsic part of her life. Although she was professionally a media person for most part of her life, she moved out to start her own venture six years back. Sapna was always an influencer among my friends and in the gym, so at some point and with a lot of thrust from her friends and acquaintances at the gym, she went on to do my fitness trainer certification with Reebok and plunged into professional fitness coaching. Sapna also do corporate talks and workshops. Off course, winning the title at that age hit the newspapers pretty big.
In COVID-19 times, our team headed by Nithya Ramesh has interacted with Sapna online for the Q&A to offer a fresh perspective to our readers on health during the lock down era.
Q How the physical fitness level can influence the mental state of an individual?
A Physical activity is proven to bring down levels of stress hormones, the primary stress hormone being cortisol. Over exposure to cortisol and other stress joined can wreck havoc on all your body processes. They put you at an increased risk to many mental health problems including anxiety, depression, headaches, digestive issues, heart diseases, sleep problems, weight gain, memory and concentration impairment. Working out also releases what are called happy hormones such as dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endomorphins into the blood stream. Dopamine is associated with pleasurable sensations, along with learning, memory, motor system function, and more. Serotonin helps regulate mood as well as sleep, appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory. Oxytocin, also called the “love hormone,” is essential for childbirth, breastfeeding, and strong parent-child bonding. This hormone also contributes in boosting emotions such as trust, empathy, and bonding in relationships, and oxytocin levels generally increase with physical affection like kissing, cuddling, and sex. Endorphins are your body’s natural pain reliever, which your body produces in response to stress or discomfort. Need we say more?
Q The west has adopted a focused fitness lifestyle since long but in India the awareness is limited, why?
A There are a number of factors that explain that. Although we have had everything right here but the west has literally taken from us our knowledge and repackaged it to sell it right back to us. The Indian mindset wherein we are always in awe of the west and simply follow their trends and wait for it to be- come cool before we adopt it. Pilates is an extraction from yoga, so our power yoga, hot yoga and the likes. But the Indian mentality of excesses in “khao piyo aish karo” over the years is still a reality in most parts. Gyms have been in India for almost two decades now but a mere 28 percent are gym goers. Indian mindset values study scores over sports and physical activity. It’s always about achieving in academics so study more, achieving in career so work harder and overtime, entertainment is about eating and drinking and excesses. Working out just isn’t part of the natural Indian lifestyle.
Q Which according to you is the best fitness regime for Indians: outdoors, gym or yoga?
A If one wants to achieve total fitness, a comprehensive approach is mandatory. All genres help acquire different skills, which are essential in the long run for absolute fitness.
Q According to you, who is a fittest celebrity in India?
A It is difficult to say because many celebrities now work really hard in the gym and are very fit. But I really admire Vidyut Jamwal for his fitness levels, skills and if course body.
Q The kids in schools have limited access to fitness facilities, can you suggest affordable alternates for them ?
A Kids in school have no interest in fitness regimes and structured work- outs. And they don’t need to be pushed into it too early. In fact it can be detrimental to their physical as well as emotional health. But schools need to in- corporate more focus on sports, games periods, sports activities and competitions. It’s these that will keep these kids addicted to staying fit. I was a sportsperson as well as sports captain in school. I got that honour early while I was in class 10. Sports and extracurricular got me all my batches including house captain, school captain, Guides and NCC commander. But I was above average in studies too. It’s doable. Schools need to go back to the earlier approach. Studies are important but sports and physical activities are equally important if not more. And if you ask me, they are more important these days. To boost immunity, to strengthen your body, mind and soul, to develop body, personality and confidence. You need these things to survive in today’s world.