Fitness Watch

A Fitness Folk Tale for Africa’s Middle Aged Middle Class

If you are like many people who take the entrepreneurial plunge, you do so most successfully when you are approaching or entering into middle age. Your middle-aged years are also ironically around the time many people start to suffer problems with eroding health and weight problems. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have the best of both worlds: financial freedom and optimal health?

I once heard Dr. Dennis Kimbro say on a television interview that most millionaires fail a few times in business, and suffer some bankruptcies before they become successful. Another salient point he made is that most of people become millionaires around fifty years of age. Why this is the case I don’t exactly know, unlike Dr. Kimbro I can only speculate on these matters.

My observation of many people makes me think perhaps the middle-age launch into business ventures has to do with people finding the confidence later in life. You have to have self-assurance to risk business ventures. Usually people don’t have this type of business confidence until after they have run other peoples businesses.

Or at least they feel more confident once they have worked for other people.

Andrew Morrison, the owner of Small Business Camp, alluding to the book “Think and Grow Rich” said that many men become more successful in their middle years because they are less focused on sexual pursuits. I can relate to this because when I was in my twenties I would be too focused on dating, to have the focus to run a viable business.

(In Africa middle age is around 25-35, given that average life expectancy in 2017 is around 47! At 70 an African would be considered old – and lucky to still be around….)

And so, most of Africa’s “young Turks” are already middle-aged! Just when they are coming into the money…

However, what would be the point of having a successful business if you don’t have the health to enjoy it?

Most people would agree business is a very competitive and challenging. It also stands to reason you should try to be at peak performance when undertaking a business venture. This is why you should seriously consider investing in your health to afford you the extra push — to drive you to business success.

Some of the major reasons you may want to bolster your health and overall fitness are because:

  • Studies show exercise helps relieve stress
  • Exercise helps elevate your mood
  • Exercise will help you think more clearly
  • Resistance training will help increase your muscle and bone density which tend to decrease with age
  • Stretching after exercise will to help keep you flexible which also tends to decrease with age
  • Regular strenuous exercise can help you increase natural hormones in you body like testosterone which will increase muscle mass, sexual desire, and overall health

These are just some of the many well-known benefits you will achieve with a regular exercise program. It is no wonder that I find many people who are successful in business come from athletic or sports backgrounds. Many successful entrepreneurs have a regular fitness programs.

If you are a woman who has had children and find yourself with some undesired pounds good balanced workout programs could be considered from people like Denise Austin or Donna Richardson. For men you may like the workouts of people like Billy Blanks.

According to fitness trainers like Denise Austin, the focus of your workout should be on the balance of strength training, aerobics, and flexibility.

Most fitness experts like Jason Martin have made the point that strength training as alluded to earlier “will increase bone density and muscle mass, aerobics will burn fat and give you more cardio fitness, and yoga or martial arts will help counter the inflexibility associated with age”.

One thing you may experience as you age is you don’t obviously have the natural energy you had when you were sixteen years old. Another problem you may experience is pain in your joints like your knees.

If you notice pain in your knees and elbows especially on damp or humid days you may be experiencing the on-set of arthritis. Arthritis can be demoralizing when you are trying to obtain optimal health. It is definitely something you didn’t have to worry about or contend with when you were in your twenties. Don’t let arthritis totally derail your pursuit of health in your most productive midlife years!

Seek the help of your doctor and perhaps explore some alternative remedies of relief. Personally I have found that some alternative treatments to be superior to pharmaceutical drugs.

The most important thing is to remember when embarking upon a health and fitness program is to do so with moderation. Don’t overdue it and risk injury. Make sure you invest in good fitness shoes with good heel and ankle support. In Denise Austin’s words “avoid boredom by doing various physical activities that you enjoy with your family”. If you are quite a bit overweight maybe you should start out with walking more.

In the end what does if profit you to become a millionaire, if you are totally unfit to enjoy your investment? Like the saying goes “your health is your greatest asset”.

This article was originally published by Kamau Austin

African Fitness: The Best Home Workout/Exercise Videos on Youtube

BlackWeightLossSuccess.com have curated a list of the best home workout, home fitness video channels on Youtube for their readers that I feel I should share with you. LiveExercise is especially good:

“I like this channel because it’s not edited down. You can see when the trainers are struggling or are out of breath. This is very motivating because it’s human. I feel like they are really having the same challenges that I am. I also love that they have a whole series of videos for people with limited mobility.”

Source: BlackWeightLossSuccess.com

The other Youtube channels are a rich selection of videos that should cover most needs for Africans, beginners or those who are more advanced, who want to exercise at home:

Are you a fan of workout DVDs and you want to use workouts from their favorite exercise celebrities?

Do you need advanced workouts that can be done at home, or short, effective, intense workouts that you can do at home or in the gym?

One of the channels covers dance workouts that “are fun, but make no mistake… they will really make you sweat.”

Check out the article here: “Best YouTube Channels For Getting A Serious Workout At Home This Winter”

No Gym No Sweat: 10 Effective Home Fitness Exercise Routines

For many people starting a new exercise routine they want to work out from home. This can be due to many reasons. You may not feel comfortable going to a gym yet. You may not have the correct equipment or no clothes to wear. Or you just could have time constraints that keep you at home.

If this is the case for you then there are plenty of exercise choices for you. You can easily pick up an exercise DVD and pop this in at home and then exercise when you can.

When choosing an exercise program think about what you are interested in. Do you want to learn yoga, Zumba dance or even belly dancing? Exercise can and should be fun!

If you are serious about exercising but cannot afford a gym membership you could at least get a copy of an exercise DVD or video and follow along. I have linked to some Youtube videos for the 10 home fitness routines described in this article. Those should get you started…

You don’t even have to go out and purchase anything to start exercising at home, and this shoud be good news for African fitness, given the lack of resources. You can design your own fitness routine by combining some cardio with strength or resistance training.

Here’s an example:

Cardio – 20 minutes.

Pick one or two of the routines below and clock up 20 minutes of cardio (Definition of cardio: cardiovascular exercise.any type of exercise that causes the heart to beat faster and harder for a period of time. basically, heart strengthening exercises)

Jumping jacks

Demonstrated in this video,

 

 

Jumping rope in the basement or outside

Demonstrated in this video,

 

 

Walking up and down your basement stairs or any stairs that are available to you (preferably 2 at a time)

Dancing to music

Running in place (or running on the spot)

Jogging out on the street may not be an option for most in Africa. If it’s still “un-gentlemanly” or “unladylike” to jog in public where you live, or for security reasons, try running in place at home.  (You may try front foot running to tone your lower leg muscles)

Watch the demo in this video,

 

This next video demonstrates the benefits of front foot running, especially if you are overweight. Some overweight  people may be afraid to run assuming that running with excessive body weight is damaging to the joints.  This could be true if heel striking, but it is not the case if you take to forefoot running

Obese people apparently,  “may experience less aches, pain, and injuries by avoiding heel strike when running. The good news is obese runners run safer with forefoot running than with heel strike running because forefoot running reduces body loads and protects the knees.” Source: RunForeFoot.com

Strength training – 2 times a week for about 20 minutes

Sit ups

Here is a video demonstrating this workout, How to do a sit up;

 

 

Push ups against the wall

Watch how its done in this Youtube video,

 

 

Wall squats

This video shows how to do a wall squat or the wall sqauts workout technique,

 

 

Leg raises

Leg raises can help tone stomach muscles, fight belly fat, and many other benefits.

How to do leg raises? Watch the demo in the video below;

 

 

Lifting light weights – use soup cans or water bottles

You can mix and match the exercises until your find a routine that works for you and are comfortable with. As the exercises become easy add some more or increase your weights. For cardio try to increase the length of time or your intensity level as it becomes easier.

Working out from home has a couple of benefits with the main benefit being that you don’t have to pay for a gym membership. You also don’t have to worry about buying fancy gym clothes either. On the downside you may find that it is harder to make yourself motivated each day and you might get lonely working out alone.

As you can see there are many workout routines that you can do from home. You definitely have no reason not to exercise. Dig down deep inside you and discover why you want to start exercising and write these reasons down. Post them in a place where you can read them every day and use your reasons as a motivator.

A Standing Innovation for Africa – Standing Desks Could Make Up For a Poor Exercise Culture

benefits of standing at work

A survey sometime in 2013 found that many of us spend up to 12 hours a day sitting on our bottoms looking at computers or watching television. If you throw in the seven hours we spend sleeping then that adds up to a remarkable 19 hours a day being sedentary…  And so it’s not news that most of us are guilty of excess sitting. We sit at work, in the car and at home, moving only to shift from one seat to another. Source: BBC News Magazine.

The fact is that people who sit a lot have an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and early death.

But this is news… experiments have proved that standing an hour or more a day can reduce the risk of obesity, reduce cancer risk, reduce blood sugar levels, make you live longer, and results in a better posture. (The Benefits and Considerations of Using a Standing Desk)

Consider these mouthwatering results from a 2011 study:

“Americans increase their life expectancy two years by reducing sitting time from the standard six hours to just three hours per day, instead.”

benefits of standing at workUsing the standing desk is a good idea and I would recommend that employers in Africa consider installing this innovation in offices and workplaces, and maybe even governements. But before that can happen, as an individual you can improve your situation without a standing desk. Even if you just stand to stretch or walk to the bathroom, or to read the paper, clocking upwards of a half hour doing this will greatly improve your quality of life… guaranteed.

In Africa where even a gym membership is beyond the means of most, and exercise equipment for the home out of the question, this could be the best lifestyle news for years to come… We are very sedentary, both educated and uneducated middle-class Africans all across the continent, from Namibia to Nigeria and Kenya to Cape Verde.

This is what I have done before I get a standing desk installed in my home office: I have stacked up several old laptop boxes on my desk and placed my laptop on it so that I can work standing. I’m starting slow, so I work at the standing desk for 15 minutes, at least 4 or 5 times a day, I use this destop timer app (focus booster) to make sure I do not cheat myself. Feel free to use any timer app for desktop or mobile.

Some immediate benefits I noticed was an increease in blood circulation in my feet, and a reduction in the sensation of heat in my feet at night. I have suffered from “restless legs syndrome” for some years now…

If you are interested in getting a standing desk designed for you, or to use a cheap and cheerful makeshift gig like mine, this is what they recommend:

“If you want to improve your posture and reduce eye strain, a standing desk is a smart option. It’s important to set it up the right way, though. Your computer screen should sit just above resting eye level, so you have to look up slightly to see it. This keeps you from hunching over or slouching as you tap away on your keyboard. The simple act of standing will also improve your core strength, leading to better overall posture.”

(Via HuffingtonPost.com)

Image source: AuthorityNutrition.com

Eat Like A Lion, Run Like A Cheater – 5 Compelling Reasons Why Africans Should Live To Be 100

lifestyle africa

Are you fit enough to outrun a hippo?

Modern living has made a growing number of us Africans overweight, slow and, frankly speaking, lazy… and in these days of liberalized sports betting I wouldn’t put my money on the average city slicker in Lagos or Nairobi outrunning a hippo, any better than the man in this picture.

lifestyle africa

If you didn’t know, hippos kill more people every year than any other animal – lions included! Probably not where you live; but they do, in some parts of the world… in boat “accidents”, by running them down, etc.

As Africans in 2017 and beyond we have many more monsters to run from than the ungainly hippo in fact – and all of them serious killers! Take your pick – high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, cervical cancer, obesity… And so, we have now run out of reasons why we shouldn’t work out and work hard to stay fit and healthy!

At the end of the article I will be giving you 5 compelling reasons why any African, rich and poor, should be doubly concerned with staying fit and healthy… and why you should die at a ripe old age.

But first, how come Africans, who can least afford it, are developing all these “modern” diseases?

One reason is that we are eating more and exercising less and less.

Some months back I decided to participate in a research study funded by the Welcome Trust (UK) and I discovered that I’m pre-diabetic and that my blood pressure is abnormally high.

It is now estimated that by 2020 46% of Africans will suffer from high blood pressure. The causes are easy enough to see. We have abandoned our much healthier traditional diets and cooking for fast food and Western-style cuisine; more and more Africans are leading sedentary lifestyles; we are consuming more animal products and meat (eating like lions), as well as too much refined sugars, alcohol and cigarettes… and then you have the genetic factors…

And the solutions?

That’s tough! Actually the situation is bleak. Given that the health systems in most African countries are broken, and set to get overstretched in the face of projected population overgrowth, prevention is going to be critically important.

Prevention; as in regular exercise, diet/lifestyle revision, and lots of education…

In this article I want to concentrate on exercise and fitness. Specifically why you want to stay fit… and die very oldJ

We all know that exercise makes you fit, but fit for what?

If the question was “Money makes you rich; but rich for what?” most of us would have a list of hundreds of benefits/rewards in just minutes. In fact when it comes to making money a benefit or reward is always the driver or motivator for waking up every day and getting to work…

You have to make money to put food on the table. And to save for a nice car, or a nice home… Or a holiday…Or an education…

With exercise and fitness unfortunately most people fail to set goals… or to see any. If you are exercising to participate in an upcoming marathon, that’s a goal, and you would “train.” Professional athletes in fact train once or twice a day even when they aren’t exactly preparing for a competition. It’s like putting money in the bank…

The rest of us who are not athletes, exercise, and getting fit, is something we can put off altogether… because there is no goal or reward attached.

But the truth is that the human body wasn’t made to sit still for long. We were not designed to become couch potatoes… to watch TV for hours on end… or to sit and work at a desk from 9 to 5.

Human beings evolved over thousands of years in an environment that required us to move constantly… to find shelter, to look for food, and to keep ourselves and our families safe from predators.

It’s only in the last one hundred years or so that we’ve eased into livelihoods and lifestyles that allow us to be sedentary. And it can be argued that our bodies probably can never evolve to adapt to this new environment.

Besides, as science keeps proving, activity has a very real effect on our brains and well-being… on stress and our energy levels. Exercise releases a number of hormones that make us “feel good”. I guess in the old days when we were “hunter-gatherers” that this was nature’s way of keeping us motivated “to not quit the chase.”

And this may be why, when it comes to energy, our bodies, if they don’t use it, they lose it. You have to constantly use and then replace your energy… through activity, followed by rest and good nutrition.

If you don’t, you will start noticing that your energy levels gradually drain away. Otherwise couch potatoes would be the most energetic people around!

But in real life we find that if we do not constantly use our energy we instead feel tired and lethargic. A point comes when the slightest amount of effort is just too much for flabby muscles to sustain (the point when, jokes aside, it could be realistically said of someone that s/he can’t lift a finger!)

And if, in addition, we are under stress… at work, or stressed by a difficult relationship, unemployment or job loss, delayed salaries, poverty, etc… then the energy loss and the stress affect us even more intensely.

Fit for what? Of course we all have different lifestyles, and so, different people require different optimal fitness levels. There are those who want to be fit enough to enjoy the excitement and sense of accomplishment that comes with taking part in, and finishing, a marathon.

These days marathons are popular for all sorts of causes… raising money for a cancer ward… or to buy equipment for the disabled… or funds for something or other. If I felt I could run 10 kilometers and come back in one piece, I would, and should, join and support these good harambee-style projects…

But you don’t have to be fit for a marathon. For most of us it should be enough if you are fit enough that you can go for a 2-mile walk, alone or with friends, without getting puffed.

Here are 5 compelling reasons why any African should be very much concerned with staying fit and healthy in 2017 and beyond:

  1. The great majority of Africans can’t afford health insurance… and maybe you are one of them (I certainly am). Who do you think will pay the bill if you came down with a stroke for example, or a heart attack? Spare your children… or your parents!
  2. If you are like me, you can’t count on your government taking good care of your kids if you should die young, or get incapacitated. In civilized countries children belong to the government… and their upbringing and nurturing is guaranteed if their parents died. Where I live, I wouldn’t trust the government with the cat’s food…
  3. Your so-called “thrifty genes” are working against you 24/7… which explains why so many Africans can very easily put on excess weight when the going, and the eating, gets good! We were designed to run like cheetahs!J
  4. A healthy mind lives in a healthy body. Africa faces the toughest economic, political, and social challenges and it’s going to be “all hands on board” from now until old age if we hope to succeed and leave our children a better world than the one we currently live in (where our youths are, quite literally, “dying” to get to Europe in search of better opportunities). You don’t want to go “missing in action”… or to miss the action! We can’t afford to quit the chase…
  5. Where our African economies are headed we are going to depend more and more on Harambee-style projects. Kenyans perfected these community crowd-funding distress-response drives. At this rate it looks like we are going to have to crowd-fund for anything from sanitary napkins for our schoolgirls, to surgery in India, and cancer machines for our referral hospitals (remember those marathons?) We are going to have to run…

Now you know why you need to live to be 100 years! The stakes are high… and getting higher for us educated Africans. If you do nothing else, share this article…

This being our flagship piece of content at LifestyleAfrica.org, maybe it’s in order to embed our value statement here.

LifestyleAfrica.org is dedicated to promoting healthy living, fitness, and wellness so that Africans can enjoy longer, healthier, happier lives. We aim to do this through “bleeding-edge” online content, exchanges, debate and advocacy.