Ask The Expert – Dr Zafar Iqbal, Sports Doctor
Dr Zafar Iqbal, official 1st Team Doctor for Liverpool FC has joined Sporting Equals as our Physical Ambassador, and he will also be answering your questions on a range of sport and exercise topics.
Dr Zafar Iqbal is a Sports and Exercise Medicine (SEM) Physician.
Chairman of the FA Medical Society (North West) and lecturer
at QMUL University in SEM.
Before his current role at Liverpool FC, he was previously 1st Team Doctor at Tottenham Hotspur FC, Leyton Orient FC and
Medical officer to England Youth Teams.
An experienced Sports and Exercise Medicine (SEM) Physician, Dr Iqbal has as specialist interest in the promotion of Physical Activity in Chronic Disease prevention (Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease) within communities.
The latest evidence suggests that the UK is the Champion of Obesity in Europe with nearly a quarter of adults classified as obese (severely overweight). If current rates continue then in just over 40 years, over half of all adults and a quarter of all children in the UK are likely to be clinically obese.
A major contributing factor to the high levels of obesity is physical inactivity with up to three quarters of adults in the UK not taking enough physical activity to benefit their health.
A New Year a New Start
Every Year, many fail to keep their New Year resolutions of exercising for a healthier lifestyle due to poor preparation and advice. Adults who are physically active have a 25% reduced risk of a premature death and up to 50% reduced risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and Type II diabetes. Lack of physical activity is also associated with obesity, breathing problems, infertility, psychological problems and even some cancers.
5 Key things regarding starting physical activity for a healthier lifestyle:
1. Arrange a review with your GP to ensure that you don’t have a medical problems and that it is safe to start an increase in physical activity or change in lifestyle.
2. The best way of maintaining a healthier lifestyle and weight is a combination of increasing physical activity and reducing calorie intake. As long as you burn up more than your calorie intake then you should reduce your weight. Do not radically change your diet or lifestyle as it will be more difficult to maintain.
3. To keep healthy, adults should do a minimum of 30 minutes per day of at least moderate physical activity on 5 or more days per week, whereas children need to do at least an hour a day. ‘Moderate physical activity' is any activity that results in:
An increase in breathing rate.
An increase in heart rate, where the pulse can be easily felt
A feeling of increased warmth, possibly accompanied by sweating on hot or humid days.
4. You can do all 30 minutes at once or in separate sessions throughout the day, e.g. 3 x 10 minute brisk walks. If however you wish to lose weight then you should participate in a total of 60 to 90 minutes moderate intensity physical activity per day.
5. If you haven’t done any regular physical activity for a while then it is best to start slow and gradually increase the duration. Stop if you are becoming severely short of breath or getting any pains and seek medical advice.
PREPARATION FOR EXERCISE
Hydration and Nutrition
Taking in the right fluid and nutrition is vital to aid performance and reduce fatigue and injuries. Eating a meal around 3 hours prior to training will give the food time to digest. This leaves the blood free for use by the exercising muscles instead of by the gut for digestion. Correct hydration is is vital as studies have shown that even a 2% decrease in body weight through water loss, (e.g. loss by sweating on a hot day in 1 hour), can cause up to a 20% decrease in performance. A rough guide is to have 500ml of fluid 2 hours prior exercising and then take approximately 200 ml every 15-20 minutes during exercise. Water is fine if exercising for less than 90 minutes but an isotonic drink (e.g. lucozade sport) is recommended if it's for a longer period. After exercise it is important to try and replenish the glycogen (the way body stores energy in muscles) used during exercise as quickly as possible. This is easily achievable with a small cereal bar and low fat milkshake drink.
Warm-Up + Injury Prevention
Warm-up exercises are to prepare the body for the subsequent activity and their purpose is to reduce injury and enhance performance. It should be approximately one quarter of your total exercise time e.g. if you are planning to exercise for an hour then you should warm-up for around 15 minutes. The warm-up should consist of a combination of stretches starting with the large muscle groups and also dynamic movements e.g. jogging, twisting and gradually increasing in intensity.
The purpose of the cool-down after exercise is to help return the body to pre-exercise conditions. This can consist of a gentle jog for a few minutes to gradually lower the heart and breathing rate. The cool-down should also include stretching to help relax the muscles which have been worked hard. The cool-down should also be approximately one quarter of the duration of the main exercise. Where possible the warm-up and cool-down should be linked to the activity undertaken e.g. if playing football then the exercises in the warm-up + cool-down should mainly include the type of movements used in football such as sprinting, kicking and heading.
Have the Right Tools
Always make sure you have the correct equipment and clothing for the activity that you are doing as it can reduce the risk of injury. For example wearing the wrong type of trainers for long distance running can cause lots of different lower limb problems.
We want to hear from you
If, after reading these guidelines you have any questions concerning physical activity/exercise related health issues please send an email email@example.com with 'ask Dr Zafar Iqbal' in the subject line or click here and Dr Zafar Iqbal will do his best to answer them.
The information provided by Dr Zafar Iqbal is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before starting any new treatment or making any changes to existing treatment.