Monday, August 30, 2010

The Perilous Paunch

Amar Nath Mukherjee

Bulging waistline has almost become a common sight amongst the people irrespective of their gender age and avocations. In fact this physical phenomenon of the present population has alarmingly assumed an epidemic form. It appears, we are not at all concerned in spite of the fact that it jeopardizes our physique, aesthetically and physiologically.
Also, perhaps we are not aware of the reasons as to why our strong abdominal muscles are essentially required for maintaining a sound health. But before elaborating the health hazards of the bulging belly it is imperative that we should first find out causes behind the bulge that we consciously or unconsciously allow to grow and try to conceal it under our attire. Our abdominal muscle (rectus abdominous) provides an effective visceral support to our abdomino-pelvic cavity which contains body’s vital organs like liver, intestine, pancreas, spleen, bladder, kidney, stomach etc. But with age, inactivity and indiscriminate food intake this abdominal muscle gradually becomes lax and loses its tone, over and above, visceral and subcutaneous fat gets deposited in this area having a higher concentration of adipose tissue particularly in this region (adipose tissues are the storehouse of fat and metabolic waste), as a result of which, our effective support device ultimately goes haywire giving rise to the hideous paunch; consequently those vital organs, earlier stated, can no longer remain in their original places, invariably causing their functional impairment.
When this excess amount of fat gets deposited, it starts “stealing” the insulin from the cells, since insulin is required for the fat deposition in the body, as depleted amount of insulin can not help burn up sugar within the cells for releasing the energy required for vital metabolic functions of the body, over and above in the normal course, the insulin produced by the pancreas chemically communicates with the liver to take up excess glucose in the blood to convert it into a storable form called glycogen. Moreover higher the deposition of fat, greater will be the loss of receptors of insulin on the surface of the cells, leading to the development of insulin resistance. The pancreas produces enough insulin but cells fail to respond due to their insensitivity. Therefore bulging belly largely increases the chance of acquiring Diabetes type II at an advanced age of the population. Besides diabetes, incidences of coronary artery diseases increase along with the increase of waistline.
The lax abdominal muscles can neither provide visceral support nor can support the lumber portion of vertebra which results in excessive concavity of the lower back, causing nagging back pain which will also be responsible for early joints degeneration (Spondylosis).
The paunchy abdomen by and large restricts the forward bending of such dorsal muscles of the spine which are supposed to be the biggest shock absorbers that remain unused and cause muscle atrophy and also becomes stiff, consequent to which blood circulation in these areas is significantly reduced. Therefore it is extremely important that all the “Pot bellied” persons should sincerely endeavour to reduce their waistline to avoid any inevitable pathological problems with their growing age.
Since the general cause and its resultant effects of the bulging belly have already been elaborated, the effective way of reducing the waistline is given here as under. But before undertaking the reduction workout one must always keep the following points in consideration:
1. Do not expect to achieve anything overnight.
2. Progress will depend on how regular one is adhered to the workout schedule.
3. Older and bigger the bulge, longer will it take for the desired result.
4. One has to go slow in case the person is already suffering from lower back pain lest the pain may aggravate with sudden onset of abdominal exercise.
5. One should also keep in mind that simple brisk walking does not significantly contribute to reducing of bulging waistline as special efforts will have to be made to reduce the waistline.
Ideally, the waist measurement should be about 3 to 4 inches lesser than chest measurement.
Now the question is how to tone up the lax abdominal muscles? Mind you, all our muscles respond to contraction and stretching. By regular and repeated contraction and stretching of the abdominal muscles, it gradually gets toned up and also gets rid of the accumulated fat deposited around the waistline. While on the subject, I would also like to stress that one has to simultaneously restrain food intake, particularly those calorie dense foods like, sugar, sweets, ghee, butter, whole milk etc., because these foodstuffs largely contribute to the deposition of fat in our body.
Therefore it is all the more imperative to suggest that both exercise and restriction of food would yield desired results early. For contracting and stretching of the abdominal muscles the following exercises are recommended:


(1) Lie on your back and keep both hands by your sides, then gradually lift both the legs together and keep them straight, lift the legs to the extent so that it makes about 45o angle from the ground level and keep this position for a count up to 10, then lower them to the starting position.
Repeat this exercise initially for 6 times and over period of time increase to 10 to 15 repetitions.
(2) Lie on your back with legs bent and feet flat on the floor, legs to be kept about a foot apart, keep hands by the side of the head, now try to lift the head as far as possible then rest the head in the starting position. Do it initially for 6-8 times and gradually increase the repetitions for 10-12 times. While doing this exercise you can feel the toning effect of your abdominal muscles.
(3) Lie flat on your back with arms straight out to the sides, raise your knees keeping them bent together with your feet flat on the floor, keeping the shoulders on the ground tilt both the knees to the left and lower them together to the floor, simultaneously twist your head to your right and hold on in this position for a count of ten and then do the same on the other side.
(4) Side bending: – Stand erect, raise both the hands about the head and hold it, then gradually bend or tilt to the right and stay in this position for a count of six then return to the starting position, then repeat on the left side, try to keep the breathing normal (5-6 times).
(5) Bending at the back: – Keep the legs apart about a shoulder width, raise both the hands straight over the head then gradually bend backward as far as possible, remain in this position for a count of five, then return back to the starting position, repeat this posture for 5-6 times and relax.
(6) When backward bending is over then gradually bend forward tending to touch the toes, head should remain beside the hand, remain in this position for a count of five then go back to the starting position, repeat this posture for 5-6 times and relax.
The regular workout of the back muscle is essentially required to avoid being a rigid spine, the muscles at the back are the body’s best shock absorber, hence rigidity on this part entails myriads of orthopaedic problems.
In view of this, one must get rid of the pot belly so that the dorsal or back muscles remain stress free due to undisturbed centre of gravity of the body; also the easy movement of the back keeps the muscles flexible.
While stressing mainly on back and abdominal muscle I would also like to state that one should be impartial to the workouts of other muscles as well. Only then one can expect an overall reduction of body weight, since spot reduction is not possible.
By and large we take our food not as per our body’s requirement but to satisfy our taste buds, as a result of which excess calories that we consume gets deposited in our body as fat layers and blood circulatory network in these layers are very poor. As a consequence the blood’s usual activity of providing nutrients and oxygen, besides simultaneously cleaning up the toxins like metabolic waste is highly restricted in these fat deposited areas thereby making the body vulnerable to various diseases. Mind you, inherently our body has got an enormous power to counteract, repair and recoup on its own, only we have to sincerely listen to, respond and provide our body the physiological support through required nutrition and regular workout and at the same time we must also remove the obstacles in the form of our addictions, indiscriminate food habit and sedentary lifestyle.OOO

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