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     Volume 4 Issue 51 | June 17, 2005 |

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Is Exercise Really Good for You?


"You don't look good, Mr. Kay-e-sem," Dr. Supra Winchit of the Big B Hospital in Bangkok said solemnly to me, dragging out the K in my name, as only the Thai people can do. "Well, I don't know," I said, "my mother thinks I am reasonably okay in the looks department, my wife, well yes, she doesn't exactly think I'm Tom Cruise, but I think I manage all right," I mumbled. Dr. Supra poured over the reports once more as I sat uncomfortably in his chamber, after subjecting myself to eye test, blood test, urine test, (the unmentionable, I quietly skipped), every test you could think of and then maybe some more. " I meant the reports," Dr Supra attempted to explain. You twit, I said to myself, he meant the reports.

So what's wrong with my reports, I asked. Well, you seem to have high HDL and low LDL, in other words the good cholesterol is on the low side and the bad cholesterol is on the high side. So what else is new? The world is full of good people on the low side and bad people on the high side. No problem, just give me some pills; I'll take them once a day when I reach home. In the meantime, my family and I would like to get down to the serious business of shopping. We've already been in Bangkok for more than 14 hours and we still haven't been able to go to any shopping centre. What would people think? What would I think?

No, no, Dr. Supra looked sternly at me; it's not so easy. You need to diet. You need to take up sports. You need to exercise. Now, do you do any exercise at the moment? Yes, I do, every morning, I wake up and go - up down, up down 20 times, and then say to myself, that was great, now let's try the other eyelid. No, you must get up early in the morning at sunrise and jog two miles, then jog another two miles in the evening. In between, do the treadmill, cycle, do what you need to do to burn off your fat and cholesterol. Sunrise, you said? As my one-time client and friend, F. G. once told me, If God wanted us to watch the sun rise, He would have made it rise at 12 noon. Now, work that one out.

Then again, recent studies and surveys (my surveys) have shown that people who exercise or play more also tend to have the most injuries. My brother, Shakil, who has been an active sportsman all his life, now complains of pain in his knees due to bone protrusions. And Belal Mama, our landlord, having played golf (according to him seriously, according to others, well, for reasons of politeness, they don't want to say ) for the last 10 years, now complains of frozen shoulder, cramped muscles, pain all over. My friend, Rashed, has similar afflictions though whether that's due to being overweight, I don't dare to ask, as he is much bigger than I am. Ronaldo has major knee trouble. Sachin has wrist problems. Both requiring surgery. So, in other words the more you play, the more injuries you get and therefore the more unfit you are likely to be. This is rather like Murphy's law and our cricket team. The more they practice and the more games they play, the less runs they score. If you remember, in their first Test they scored 400 plus runs and five years and 10 tours later, they scored 104 runs.

Armed with this infallible logic and having done another survey (I like doing surveys) of treadmill costs in Dhaka, I quickly came to the conclusion, that buying a treadmill was definitely not what my bank manager would endorse. You have any idea what these monsters cost? Wow! So Decision # 1: Forget treadmill. Next, I decided to go jogging. I set up three alarm clocks. Wake up time-6 am, which is well, two hours before my normal wake up time. Track suit--check. Sneakers check. Head band--check. Bangalee was ready. But then, the problems started. Did you know that in Dhaka, the dogs also start their morning walk/run/bite at the same time. Didn't get very far. I walked, they walked. I jogged, they jogged. I ran, they pounced. Desperately made a bee line for home base. Decision # 2 Forget jogging. Was pleased to get that one out of the way. Besides, didn't the guy who pioneered jogging also drop like a stone when he was jogging.

So, having tried and exhausted all potential avenues of exercise, I decided that maybe, I wasn't cut out for all this macho stuff. Maybe it was ordained I should come home, have snacks, watch TV, have tea, watch TV, have dinner, watch some more TV and then go to bed. See, how simple it is once you put it in a logical framework. By the way, in case you are not fully convinced by this logic and have questions to ask me, please do write to me. Or better still, why don't I ask your questions and let an expert give you the answers:

Q: I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?
A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it...don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a lamb chop can give you 100 percent of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if you have a body and you have body fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain... Good.

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?
A: YOU'RE NOT LISTENING! Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A: Are you crazy? HELLO ...... Cocoabeans ... another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.

Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?
A: Hey! 'Round' is a shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets and remember, "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - cognac in one hand - cigar in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming - HOO HAH! What a Ride!"

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