SPORTS & WELLNESS
 

Ready for Down Under?
Sachin Tendulkar (L) and captain MS Dhoni.  A lot of unnecessary focus will once again be there on Sachinís 100th century
Is beating an average West Indies team in docile home conditions the ideal preperation for taking on the Aussies on their fast and bouncy pitches, asks Sunil Narula
H
ave you ever heard this story about this man who had a waterproof, shockproof, unbreakable, anti-magnetic watch and lost it? Now the chairman of Indian selectors, Kris Srikkanth, is telling us that he has covered all bases with the cricket team that he has chosen for the upcoming, all-important Test series against the Australians that starts next month.  The point, however, is that just covering all bases does not ensure success.

Sachin Tendulkar (L) and captain MS Dhoni. A lot of unnecessary focus will once again be there on Sachinís 100th century
Photo: PTI

WINTER WORKOUTS
Sachin Kalra
D
o not let the weather become an excuse to hibernate. Instead of letting cold temperatures put your exercise routine on hold, vary your workout routine to fit the weather. Winter offers a variety of exercise options; for both inside and out.

When fitness takes a happy holiday
Dorene Internicola
I
tís the season when yoga classes are cancelled and gyms go on holiday schedules, so to avoid the fitness consequences of all those Christmas parties, experts suggest making a workout plan and sticking to it.

 





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Ready for Down Under?
Is beating an average West Indies team in docile home conditions the ideal preperation for taking on the Aussies on their fast and bouncy pitches, asks Sunil Narula

Spinners Prayan Ojha (L) and R Ashwin. It will be a challenge for Ashwin in Australia but he looks to be a better bet than Harbhajan
Spinners Prayan Ojha (L) and R Ashwin. It will be a challenge for Ashwin in Australia but he looks to be a better bet than Harbhajan Photo: PTI

Have you ever heard this story about this man who had a waterproof, shockproof, unbreakable, anti-magnetic watch and lost it? Now the chairman of Indian selectors, Kris Srikkanth, is telling us that he has covered all bases with the cricket team that he has chosen for the upcoming, all-important Test series against the Australians that starts next month.  The point, however, is that just covering all bases does not ensure success.

This series is an important one for India, as just a couple of months ago in England they were hammered out of their wits in the Test series. And now they are back playing in staid and docile home conditions, where they are busy beating an average West Indian team. In Australia, they will once again be tested on true, bouncy and fast pitches. And they will have to ensure that there is no repeat of the English debacle this time around. But is playing against the West Indies on Indian pitches the ideal preparation for taking on Australia in Australia?

Yes, the Australian team is in a transitional phase and have a newish captain (Michael Clarke) and a brand new coach (South African Mickey Arthur). But they are fresh from a tight Test series against the South Africans where they drew 1-1. Their captain is in great touch with the bat and they have more than a few young players, who are just waiting to grab their chance.

The Indian selectors have chosen a 17-member team for this challenging tour to Australia and most players, who should have been there areÖwell there. The likes of Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh have missed out but there are other players to replace them. But India are about to fall into the same trap as they did when they went to England recently ó of not preparing for the peculiar conditions that they will encounter in Australia.

The BCCI has made arrangements for some players to reach Australia a week in advance and have net sessions there. But that is not the same thing as going and playing a few matches before the Test series begins.

The itinerary of the Indian cricket team is jampacked at all times (thanks to BCCIís greed for selling TV rights), and there is hardly any time for the players to prepare adequately for crucial series against the likes of England and Australia. After this Test series against the West Indies, India will be playing a further five ODIís against this very opposition, which really is a waste of time. This time could have been better utilised if India had gone to Australia early and played a couple of side matches there.

Against England, too, the Indians felt they just had to turn up at matches, and the English conditions will pose no threat for them. The abysmal results in England were there for everybody to see. Even now, when the Indian team should be Australia preparing for the series there, they are busy playing an ODI series against the West Indies.

As for the Indian team, a lot of unnecessary focus will once again be there on Sachinís 100th century. Actually, this whole rigmarole surrounding his landmark ton has reduced the cricket to a farce. There are other players involved in the contest as well but as we saw in England, India kept losing Test match after Test match but there were those out there, who were still concerned about Tendulkarís 100th ton. Statistics can be pretty boring and this is turning out to be one such stat. A real drag that is helping no one.

A lot of attention will also be on R. Ashwin, who seems to be relishing his cricket, especially more so after his recent marriage. It will be a challenge for him in Australia but he looks to be a better bet than Harbhajan, who really seems to be off-colour with not many wickets even in domestic Ranji Trophy matches.

Even an emerging and evolving Australian team will be hard to beat at home. And the BCCI has not made things easy for their own team by prolonging a meaningless series against the West Indies here. This vital time could have been used in getting acclimatised to the conditions in Australia.

Shastri bats for Harbhajan

Harbhajan Singh
Harbhajan Singh

Former Indian captain Ravi Shastri feels Harbhajan Singh should have been there in the Indian team for the Australian tour because he has this ability of getting under the skin of the Aussies. Now we all thought that bowlers are included in the team for taking wickets, which should be their main task. But this is surely a new line of thinking brought in by Shastri. Thankfully the Indian selectors did not agree with this absurd line of thinking and dropped a woefully out-of-form Harbhajan. The sardar from Jalandhar did not help his own cause by making statements in the media like "picture abhi baaki haiíí and all that sort of thing. If the picture is really baaki, he should have gone out and grabbed wickets in the Ranji Trophy to strengthen his case. In the domestic matches in Mohali, Harbhajan failed to inspire his team and could not even get wickets of Ranji newcomers. To make matters worse for Bhajji, his replacement in the Indian team R Ashwin, was firing on all cylinders. Not only did he take a heap of wickets, he also slammed a Test century. Well actually, the picture seems to be coming to a fast end for Harbhajan.

TEAM

Indian squad for the Test series against Australia that begins in Australia next month:

Batsmen: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane.

Wicketkeepers: MS Dhoni (captain) Wridhiman Saha.

Seamers: Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Praveen Kumar and Zaheer Khan.

Spinners: R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha.

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WINTER WORKOUTS
Sachin Kalra

Do not let the weather become an excuse to hibernate. Instead of letting cold temperatures put your exercise routine on hold, vary your workout routine to fit the weather. Winter offers a variety of exercise options; for both inside and out.

In colder months, Demi Moore skis to keep fit
In colder months, Demi Moore skis to keep fit
In winters, Cameron Diaz turns to boxing
In winters, Cameron Diaz turns to boxing

Exercising in winters is a must, because it prevents you from gaining excessive winter weight and also helps to regulate your hunger (which tends to increase during winters). Regular exercise will make you feel more energetic, and improve your sense of well-being. Exercise will also strengthen the immune system, thereby reducing the risk of coughs and colds.

Keep the chill out

Create a home gym. This does not have to be expensive. You can easily set-up a great workout routine with just a set of dumbbells, a bench and a jumping rope.

If you have stairs where you live or close by, spend as little as 20 minutes at a time climbing up and down the stairs for a very intense and efficient workout.

Join a health club. This will allow you a large variety of physical activities to choose from every week.

Go mall walking. Ladies, you might be glad to hear about this particular form of exercise. Mall walking is easy to do during shopping trips, and with the cold trapping shoppers in for longer periods, it also makes a perfect way to burn a few extra calories. So wear your trainers and off to the malls.

Other activities that you can consider as you think about winter exercise include winter jogging, jumping rope, exercise DVDs, yoga, and dance (classes or home fun). Each offers a different type of exercise, such as strength training, aerobics, and coordination. As you start your winter exercise program, you can combine these together to form a more balanced weekly exercise routine.

SAFETY TIPS

Warm up: In winter, you need to increase the amount of time you spend on warm up exercises. This is due to the reduced temperatures and the fact that the muscles are tighter in the winter, so injuries are more common. Cold muscles are tight and vulnerable to strains. Moreover, sudden exertion in cold air can cause a sharp rise in blood pressure or trigger asthma attacks in susceptible people. To avoid problems, spend a few minutes walking, jogging in place, or otherwise working muscles and joints through the movements you will be doing more vigorously outdoors, gradually boosting the intensity. After working out, cool down by walking slowly until
your heartbeat drops close to its resting rate.

Wear the right clothes: Dress appropriately. Wear layers that you can peel off and put back on as needed. Also, the fabric you wear closest to your body should absorb moisture from your skin to keep you dry and warm and your outer layer should protect you from winds. Do not forget to wear a cap. Caps are important to keep body temperature stable. They prevent heat loss from the head and neck, which can account for as much as 50 per cent of total heat loss when you are outside.

Stay hydrated: The rules of hydration are essentially the same no matter the weather. Cold weather may leave you feeling less thirsty, but it's still easy to become dehydrated, which can impair your body-heat regulation, lead to exhaustion, muscle fatigue, cramps, loss of coordination and even stroke. Pay attention to the warning signs of dehydration and make sure to drink plenty of water. Keep a bottle of water handy, and drink even before signs of thirst appear.

Make yourself visible: Working out outdoors during winter months can be incredibly exhilarating. It is quite safe to exercise outside but try to work out during daylight. But with shortened days it might be difficult, so make sure that you are visible by wearing reflective materials. Wear white or bright outer layers to make yourself easily visible.

CELEBRITIES & CALORIES

Hot yoga: Celebrities such as Madonna have been long-time fans of the toning and cardiovascular benefits of hot yoga. The heat is said to enable the muscles to move and stretch, helping to improve flexibility, circulation and tone.

Boxing: When it's too cold to surf, Cameron Diaz turns to boxing for her kicks or punches. Itís indoors, provides a great workout, and a great stress relief.

Extreme sports: Demi Moore is always up for a challenge, no matter what the season. In the summer, she's often seen roller blading at the beach in Santa Monica while the colder months have her reaching for her skis.

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When fitness takes a happy holiday
Dorene Internicola

Itís the season when yoga classes are cancelled and gyms go on holiday schedules, so to avoid the fitness consequences of all those Christmas parties, experts suggest making a workout plan and sticking to it.

"I tell my clients to make sure they have a routine in their back pocket," says Colorado-based fitness instructor Stacey Lei Krauss, "something equipment-free that can be done in a small space, especially if you donít have easy access to a gym over the holidays."

Krauss, who created a fitness DVD called "Willpower and Grace," says those are qualities weíre apt to abandon to family and friends during the holiday season.

"Itís family time; but giving back to yourself is just as important," she adds. "Will power is self-control: the ability to manage yourself, regardless of whatís happening around you. " So when Krauss goes home for the holidays, sheíll stick to her morning run and skip the big family breakfast. "My mother will say, ĎOh, do you need to work out now?í Iíll say, ĎYes,í" she explained. "We need to stay on track with what works for us."

Connecticut-based exercise instructor Ellen Barrettís yoga-based classes stress the mind-body connection. During the holidays, mental fatigue can weigh you down as surely as that extra cup of eggnog, she believes, but strengthening the spirit may be as simple as downing a glass of water.

"Drink a lot of water. It carries oxygen that will keep you alert, so emotional fatigue wonít set in as quickly," she adds. And get moving in the morning. "Do something. Take a 20 minute walk, even if its pitch black outside," she advises.

Even if the exigencies of family and season annihilate the best workout intentions, Barrett says it is still possible to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

"Donít think exercise is the only way to stay well," she claims. "Do a salt scrub, or hit the juice bar for a couple of shots of wheat grass. Youíll feel good and youíll have gotten your veggies."

To counterbalance seasonal excess, Jessica Matthews, spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise (ACE), advocates moderation. "Shift your mindset from that all-or-nothing mentality," says Matthews, an exercise physiologist based in San Diego, California.

"We actually measured muscle activity to find the most effective exercises," she said. The lunges, squats, crunches and extensions target those problem areas of the butt (glutes), the core (abdominals), and the upper arms (triceps).

At 84 years old, fitness instructor Ann Smith, creator of the DVD "Stretching for Seniors," says she mainly advises her holiday-stressed clients to relax and have a good time.

"All you need is to eat, sleep and move every day," Smith said. "Walk. Scrub the floor. And if you canít think of anything to do, then start singing. Singing is good exercise." ó Reuters

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