HEALTH: Beyond Women and Wellness

Simplifying fitness for overall mental and physical balance is Shruti Saxena, Business Head, Fortis La Femme. As vertical head, managing all four centers at Delhi, Bengaluru and Jaipur, she believes that fitness, is not always for weight reduction or for getting into shape but a tool that gives an individual some ‘me time’. Shruti is a ‘Doula’ or a non-medical birth companion, who assists women before, during or after childbirth to provide emotional and physical support. She is also a lactation consultant and childbirth educator, certified trainer in pre and postnatal exercise. This 44-year-old mum is also a recreational runner and cyclist and is responsible for Fortis La Femme, and its well-women clinics – Mamma Mia. Into active fitness for the past 17 to 18 years, Shruti took to ‘serious’ running in the past eight to nine years. She is an active participant at the half and full marathons and is game for races above 42 km. She has accomplished running up to 60 km and aims to run more

“Fitness is a way of life even if you are able to give yourself that ‘time’. For me, it is more physical all the time because I am a runner and a cyclist. Fitness is ‘my go to’ whenever I am stressed and is part of my everyday life. I try and workout every day; maybe spend a little less time if I am slightly tied down – but exercising is like meditation for me,” said Shruti Saxena, Business Head, Fortis La Femme – specialized gynecological chain of hospitals in India.

La Femme integrates its holistic birthing care via its wellness centers – ‘Mamma Mia’, that complements the Fortis La Femme brand, offering a range of services from pre-conception, pregnancy, birth and parenting.

Beyond Womanhood

La Femme and its sub-brand, Mamma Mia while providing wellness support to women also conduct corporate workshops wherein men are also encouraged and trained to exercise from their office desks. “We try and encourage office ergonomics through chair exercises for five minutes and are trying to do things to enable busting stress levels at work. However, it requires special efforts from employees too. We advocate simple changes such as removing high-heels shoes which can alleviate pressure points and similar such solutions. We teach both men and women exercise that can be done as part of your office hours - say a chair or even standing exercises,” she said.

“Most forms of exercise are safe but, always listen to your body and stop when it feels uncomfortable. Keep yourself hydrated. Don’t exercise immediately after food, give a gap for at least two hrs,” she adds.

Runner’s Instinct

Not a sporty child, Shruti developed an instinct for running in due course of her life. “My dad inculcated the idea of walking since childhood and would take us for a walk over the weekend or on off-days at school. Thus, walking became a part of my life; thereon I gradually took to gym workouts, which I did not enjoy for long. I then started going outdoors and gradually picked up running”, said Shruti.

The simplicity in running is what attracted Shruti to this form of fitness. “ Running is something which you can start without investing in any equipment. All you need are comfortable shoes - it is just you and your body. You merely need to invest your time. You don’t need any membership but, a safe road or a park or any place to run. You also don’t need to look for huge tracks - a 200-meter park near your house is sufficient but, you definitely need to fit in your time”, she said. “While running is a great form of exercise, one needs to start slow and build up the distance gradually”, said Shruti.

Shruti wakes up at around 4:30 am and works out from 5 am to 6 am. “Whether it is running or doing my yoga whatever I can, I do manage at that time”, she said. Post work, she has a quick dinner, indulges in an after-dinner walk and makes sure to call it a day, no later than 10:30 pm every day. “This routine is not rigid though; if I am not able to work out in the morning then, I could catch up on it in the evening too-say an hour after dinner”, said Shruti.

“Running is something which you can start without investing in any equipment. All you need is comfortable shoes - it is just you and your body. You merely need to invest your time”

‘Fit’ or, Not?

Shruti advocates fitness as part of a regular lifestyle that can be easily incorporated and as a measure to work-life balance effectively.

“Fitness need not always mean intense sports like running, cycling or swimming. For some, it could be yoga and for others, it could be meditation. It all depends on your personality type and what can really soothe you down. It is also about your mental balance; anything that gives you that 5-10 minutes to yourself. Also, one need not go for heavy duty gym but can get started with half-an-hour walks every day, because when you walk or do cardio exercises, you release good hormones and it actually helps to balance out your hormones,” she said.

On the rise in polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD) and thyroid cases and with some women struggling to get fit-Shruti said, that “Such medical conditions also crop up when women are not able to find time for themselves or even to do a simple walk or get connected to their bodies. Working women get up to come to work, go home and then struggle with household chores and at the office as part of daily routine. So, they are unable to take stock of any ailment or condition that might be unknown to them,” she said.

“I have many women in my running group, who have reached menopause but are dealing with that in a much better way than some of the women going into menopause and suffering; the need is to balance your body out and exercises help to balance the body out, whichever phase of life you are at,” she added.

Eating ‘Fit’

For Shruti, 'khichdi' is her comfort food and she avoids fad diets. “I eat anything and everything but avoid processed food as much as possible. Also, I am not a food person, I eat because I have to. Also, I always check the sugar content on food labels and if I do not understand things mentioned on the pack, I try and not eat that”, she said.

Staying Fit

Walking: Is good exercise for anyone. Brisk walking gives a total body workout and is easy on the joints and muscles. Walking is a great way to start an exercise program.

Swimming: Is great for your body because it works so many muscles. The water supports your weight, so you avoid injury and muscle strain. It also helps you stay cool and helps prevent your legs from swelling.

Cycling: Provides a good aerobic workout. Aerobics is a good way to keep your heart and lungs strong.

Strength Training: Make your muscles stronger. Hit the gym if you feel like it.

By Sangeeta Ghosh Dastidar