Monday, 30th October 2017

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Yoga as exercise

Dr Mathai answers your health queries

By Dr Gita Mathai
  • Published 15.05.19, 5:15 PM
  • Updated 15.05.19, 5:15 PM
  • 2 mins read
Traditional exercises such as yoga and tai chi are now considered excellent for spine health, posture, balance and delaying dementia. (Shutterstock)

I do yoga every day. Do I need to do other exercises such as walking, cycling or swimming?

Traditional exercises such as yoga and tai chi are now considered excellent for spine health, posture, balance and delaying dementia. They should be done 4-5 times a week. Ideally, they should be combined with light weight training for 10 minutes, and aerobic activities such as walking, jogging or swimming for 40 minutes a day.

Bedbug bites

I travelled overnight by train. A day after I reached, I developed terrible itching and I actually saw a bed bug on my sheet.

You may have inadvertently transferred the bedbug from the train to your home.

Change your bed linen. Wash it in hot water and place it in the sun to dry. Do the same with your mattress. Bathe twice a day using a scrubber and an antiseptic soap. Apply calamine lotion to the itchy areas. Take an antihistamine. Provided you do not get bitten again, the symptoms should subside in three of four days.

Obesity and PCOS

My BMI is 23 and my body weight is in the correct range. I have irregular periods and was diagnosed with PCOS. How is that possible? I thought that obesity was part of the diagnosis of PCOS?

Around five to eight per cent of women diagnosed with PCOS either have ideal body weight or are thin. Yet they have irregular periods, usually with long periods of amenorrhea. Ultrasound studies show 25 or more cysts per ovary. The endocrine parameters like androgen levels, insulin resistance and lipid levels are deranged. PCOS is a multifaceted diagnosis based on symptoms, physical examination, ultrasound and blood tests.

Even though you are thin, you still need to eat a healthy diet with around 2,000 calories and exercise aerobically for 40 minutes a day to correct endocrine abnormalities. You may require treatment to menstruate regularly, when you decide to have a baby.

Travel woes

I feel nauseated whenever I travel in a car or bus. Sometimes I actually vomit.

This is motion sickness. It is precipitated by riding in vehicles or getting on roller coasters and other recreational rides. Symptoms reduce if you focus on a distant object keeping your head still. Avoid alcohol and caffeine (tea, coffee) before travelling. The sick feeling usually subsides when you disembark. If the ride is going to be a long one, take medication an hour before travel.

Walk away weight

Some articles say walking is good exercise. Others say it offers no overall benefits — either for weight loss or fitness. Any activity that gets you off your chair and mobile has advantages. Walking helps with weight loss and overall cardiovascular fitness. To achieve benefits, you need to take 10,000 steps or cover 8km five days a week if that is your only activity. To maximise benefits, run for 30 seconds then walk for three minutes. This way your BMI gets pushed up during the high-intensity intervals.

Swollen feet

My wife’s feet become swollen when she sits or stands for a long time. Swollen feet can be innocuous (when it disappears on its own if the feet are elevated), a sign of pregnancy, due to chronic venous insufficiency, varicose veins, diabetes, anaemia, thyroid disease, heart, liver or kidney failure. You need to have a medical examination and laboratory tests to make a diagnosis. Diuretics will usually get rid of the excess fluid. Treatment specific to the disease needs to be added.

  • The writer is a paediatrician with a family practice at Vellore and author of Staying Healthy in Modern India.
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