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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Exercise & its role in the life of a common Man/Woman



Consultant-Preventive & Rehabilitation Medicine,
SevenHills Hospital, Mumbai



1- Physical inactivity in today’s urban lifestyle:

India is a fast developing nation and the second largest economy in the world. It is also one of those South-Asian countries that are bursting with a population of 1.2 billion. More than 60% of this population falls within the age group of 25-55 years of age, constituting ‘the working class’. With an ever increasing migration from the countryside into cities, the major economic hubs, competition and the race for survival is at its peak. Rapid urbanization of our cities has led us to live a fast paced life amidst extreme climatic and work conditions leading to a bizarre lifestyle- ‘Urban Lifestyle’. In order to appreciate any preventive action, it is important for each one of us to recognize our own lifestyle.

Urban lifestyle may be characterized as follows:


  • Long working hours, no time to relax.
  • Bizarre eating and sleeping schedule.
  • Minimum physical activity- Dependency on motorized conveyance.
  • Age old eating patterns not suiting the urban, ‘sedentary’, lifestyle.
  • Every morning begins with ‘travel stress’.
  • Computer and cell phone dependency/ addiction.
  • Weekends spent in malls and restaurants- ‘Weekend lifestyle’.

Consequently, our comforts have made us sedentary and vulnerable to diseases and physical ailments. There is an urgent need to identify the ill-effects of our habituation to sedentary lifestyle and learn to take preventive actions to preserve our physical and mental well-being- `our life’. Simple modifications to our choices and easy planning can make a world of difference because:

Our choices today will reflect in our health tomorrow. Hence, let us wisely invest in our health, our life’.

2. Lifestyle diseases in young India:

More than 60% of our population constitutes the ‘working class’ and more than 70% of it is thriving in our cities. It is a race, a thirst, starting in teenage years to succeed in every sphere of life. The stress of such competition is enormous and unique to every young Indian. In order to match ends, youngsters try to maximize working hours and multi-task by which they, succumb/ get addicted to destructive habits like smoking, tobacco, binge eating, binge drinking- either sweetened carbonated (soft) drinks or alcohol.

Sedentary work style, stress-induced habits, poor dietary choices with bizarre timings have  collectively led to the advent of lifestyle diseases encompassing: diabetes, hypertension, obesity, osteoporosis, and heart diseases. Absence of play grounds for outdoor recreational activities (sports) and the dawn of mobile and computer games has further worsened the fitness levels in youngsters.

1. Inculcating physical activity like sports (outdoor or indoor) and/or dance allows children and teenagers to gain excellent control over their body and helps them to generate a procreative focus towards healthy lifestyle. It also improves concentration, stamina, and reduces stress.

2. Daily 40 minutes of sports or vigorous/ strenuous physical activity of any form can help
youngsters prevent weight gain, and minimize risk of lifestyle diseases.

3. Avoiding carbonated/fizzy/soft drinks and carrying out good physical activity in sun light can ensure stronger bones and muscles leading to better compliance at worksite.

4. Vigorous physical activity of about 40 minutes in the form of sports or dance or any other form is known to normalize blood pressures and blood sugars by reducing peripheral
resistance and insulin tolerance, respectively, in all age groups.

A nation’s prosperity rests in the hands of the young and earning generation. Youngsters must inculcate healthy habits and correct choices of diet and exercise in order to realize that ‘health is true wealth’.

3. Health and physical activity in young Indian women:


Women in India, today, are exceedingly successful, multi-talent, well-informed, and well educated. They deliver their expertise throughout a wide range of professions and are a vital driving force of India’s economy. They are starkly independent and goal oriented.

Although the above holds true, even today, majority of women are not very well exposed to sports and organized physical activity, due to either a social taboo or by personal choice. Physical fitness in women is considered ignored, especially at school and local level. Moreover, space constraints and societal standards govern the inhibitions posed on women.

Absence of physical fitness since childhood renders women with weak bones and weak musculature. The problem worsens later on as more and more women seek sedentary high profile jobs as careers where they spend much of the time at the desk.

Ailments like PCOS (irregular menses), Amenorrhea, early menopause (as early as 30-32 yrs of age), osteoporosis, low back and upper back problems, muscular spasms and cramps, spondylosis, complex regional pain syndromes, diabetes, severe Vitamin-D deficiency, low threshold for pain and stamina have become very common in younger physically in-active women. Urogenital syndromes and related complications are found to appear earlier in life of physically inactive women.

After menopause, physically in-active women are equally likely to suffer heart disease and the prevalence of heart diseases in Indian women is on a constant rise. Degenerative joint arthritis and incidence of fractures in middle age women has gone up significantly in the past 2 decades.

A vigorous yet simple physical activity program of about 45 minutes that involves any one activity such as: any sports (indoor or outdoor), spot-marching, swimming, walking, staircase climbing, or even dance sessions can prevent or minimize the risk of these diseases in women. About 20 minutes of daily sun light exposure can avoid deficiency of Vitamin-D and is known to reduce features of depression and anxiety in both men and women.

‘Exercise is Medicine’, it is the most effective tool for prevention and treatment of ailments caused due to physical in-activity in women of Modern India. Hence, it is vital to spread the word of physical fitness and exercise in the younger class of India.Exercise & its role in the life of a common man/ woman

4. Physical in-activity and cardiovascular risk:


2/3rd of the Global estimated 14.3 million annual cardiovascular deaths occur in the developing world. India, a developing economy, is growing at a fiercely fast pace. It is also one of those south Asian countries where people are genetically more prone to suffer from heart diseases. A fast paced lifestyle, poor eating etiquettes, extreme climatic conditions, cut-throat competition, and unsympathetic work conditions pose Indians at a greater risk of heart disease than any other citizen of the world. The WHO has termed India as ‘The heart disease capital of the world’.

Physical in-activity along with poor eating etiquettes such as binge eating, late night dinners, excessive dependence on red meat, sweets, juices, and energy drinks; leads to insulin tolerance and diabetes which worsens lethargy and adds to physical in-activity and causes weight gain. Poor diet and physical-inactivity is responsible for 16.6% of annual heaths in a developed country like USA.

In addition, physical in-activity in conjunction with smoking has a large impact on the health of the heart and other organs of our body. Approximately 9 lakh deaths in India occur due to smoking, 86 % of which are directly accounted to heart diseases in smokers.

Physical in-activity has an astonishing breath of serious health implications such as lifestyle diseases and is one of the major health problems of our times. It poses maximum risk to the productive age group of 25-55 yrs. With lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and high cholesterol levels, the cumulative risk of heart disease is markedly increased.

Diabetes and hypertension are categorized under preventable diseases. Daily 40 minutes of sports or vigorous physical activity of any form, along with simple and timely dietary choices, can prevent diabetes and hypertension in majority of the population, thereby reducing the risk of developing heart disease. For those who already suffer from Diabetes or Hypertension, exercise and sports can help to achieve excellent control, thus bringing a fall in the risk of heart disease.

Those who already suffer from heart diseases, along with diabetes, weight gain, hypertension etc. can equally benefit by regular physical activity that will help them to improve their quality and longevity of life.

Exercise forms the back bone of Modern Medicine as it is based on the principles of primary

prevention. It has long lasting and multi-dimensional benefits in a wide range of ailments.

Physical activity and heart disease prevention can be treated as the core entity where generalized bodily benefits also get addressed very well. Lastly, it is never late to begin a physical activity program. So don’t lose hopes, be the best of you.

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