Just 30 Minutes A Day

Every few months, I keep coming back to this. As our bodies age, our joints creak, our waistlines bulge and our skins sag, we need to do something to control this inevitable degeneration, both to keep ourselves mobile and agile as well as to remain healthy now and in the future.

Earlier this week, Ms. Gretchen Reynolds, whose recent amazing book “The First 20 Minutes”, I had reviewed some weeks ago, wrote an article in the New York Times, called “The Benefits of Middle-Age Fitness”, where she discussed and reviewed a study done in Dallas and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine that showed that those who were fitter when first seen in their late 40s (they were checked for fitness in the 1970s), about 30 years later (re-evaluated from 1999-2009), were less likely to develop chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Also, if these illnesses did appear, they occurred much later in their lives and for shorter periods of time, as compared to those who were not fit to begin with. Also, those who were fit, lived a little longer than those who were not, but more importantly, the fitter people lived better lives.

This puts the money where the mouth is and gives ammunition to all of us who have believed that it makes sense to be getting out of our houses and into the gyms or on to the roads, not just to look good or to lose weight, but to actually work towards a healthier future.

And how much exercise is required? Not more than 20-30 minutes of walking, most days of the week. That’s it! We are not talking of running or weight training or mountain climbing, or for that matter even sports like tennis, squash, badminton, etc. (though all of these can be great fun as well)…just plain and simple walking for half an hour a day.

The vast majority of us don’t even do this much. Which is just such a shame! And really, there are no excuses. While we may lament the lack of racing tracks and other sports amenities in India, every city, small or big, every suburb, rich or poor, has places where you can take walks. And if you are innovative, you can even find areas like the “under the flyover” section between King’s Circle and the Ruia Naka signal to do a half km walk one way. And if time is an issue, at least in Mumbai, you can walk on our well-lit roads even at midnight or 2.00 AM for that matter…and trust me…if you are dressed appropriately for running / walking, no one will bother you.

There is no excuse for not getting at least this much exercise done.

And…if you still can’t find the time to take out even 30 minutes a day, Ms. Reynolds in July profiled another study published in the journal, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise that showed that if you break up the 30 minutes a day into 3 sessions of 10 minutes each, that too is an equally effective strategy to keep healthy.

Ten minutes, three times a day. I am sure that kind of time can be found in all our busy lives. Despite our traffic and busy streets and absent pavements, we should still be able to walk to places instead of taking cars and get the exercise we need.

Just 30 minutes a day of walking. And you can even break it up into 3 sessions of 10 minutes each.

How hard can this be!


  • Anand Desai wrote:

    Great article as usual Bhavin.
    One other suggestion is for folks who lament the absence of an open space to walk they can put on their walking shoes and go off to one of the Malls and walk inside. Its the safest place.No Traffic and great surface.Try it. I beleive sometime back the InOrbit Mall usd to open for morning walkers from 7 am to 9am . They would allow people to walk . best during rains.Or in case on a day you cant step out just walk 3/4 levels in your own building .

  • Govind Gadiyar wrote:

    Yes. I took up running around 50 that is 10 years ago. It has helped tremendously in every sense of the word.

    Liked your comment about dressing appropriately. This is important and practical.

    Keep it up Bhavinbhai….

  • Prerak H. Bhatt wrote:

    Bhavinbhai keep up the insanely good work you are doing by writing awesome stuff.

  • mehul bhatt wrote:

    thanks for sharing.one more motivating article from you.

  • ARPANA PAGNIS wrote:

    perfect article! such SMALL important things we know we have to do but at the time of doing these things there is always ‘TOMORROW’

  • Dr.Kaushal Sheth wrote:

    i think that more than anybody, its we doctors who need such motivational columns so that we try and keep ourselves fit in the quest of trying to keep our patients fit. We keep advising everyone about the health benefits of walking but we are the ones who really need to walk. Great column Sir.

  • dr.kamlesh haria wrote:

    concept of preventive health care absent in d majority.most tk to exercise only after getting a red line on their health report card…..

  • when I quit the gym and took to the streets, about an year ago, my wife started getting asked “kya hua doctor ne kuch bola kyaa, why is he running all of a sudden”…. so yeah that is our approach/outlook to exercise. Then again I’ve dropped from a size XL in Reebok to a size S in one year (besides the perfect blood sugar and low heart rate) which makes people around me come up and express the desire to start running but they are worried if it will hurt their knees/ankles/feet and what not… the negative research wins and they don’t even start…. as for walking well it’s good actually great… for those who wont run… but if you can’t run I would seriously advise getting a cycle or getting yourself examined (after all we all were Born to Run)…..

  • Armaity Surendra Patel wrote:

    Though a lover of sports and tom-boy in childhood, I am a very lazy person. So if I have to go walking or jogging I am too lazy to change into appropriate gear!! In Dubai, during Ramadan all offices were closed by afternoon and so we had very good opportunity to go for walks. You will not believe it, when my husband coxed me to join him for walks, I tagged along on condition that i’ll comedown in my maxi! And i did go for walks like that!!! Then at 69 3 years ago I again resolved to look after my health and came across a very healthy solution which gave me a new lease of life in the form of good health! I lost 16kg and 6 inches from my waist till today!!!! I can share with those interested.
    As for walking, my innovative method is to do so in the house itself. To go from one room to another I skip a little, walk with swings, etc. My laptop and printer are at a distance of 3 yards and so when I have to scan or print I move with more spring in my feet between the two. Today I feel fit and fine and when I receive compliments for my weight loss and good skin, it motivates me to maintain the same! I WILL MAINTAIN myself till my last breath. Better Late than Never!!
    Bhavin you always inspire me and motivate me to open my heart !!! Ha! Ha!

  • Meghna Haridas wrote:

    Another lovely piece from you, Bhavin. I think it’s also about finding that one physical activity you enjoy the most. I’m somebody who hates solitary activities like gymming, etc but I gave up an extremely sedentary corporate job to take up teaching ballroom dancing and believe me, it’s probably the best cardio you can ever get. I’ve a very regular 70 year young student in my class and he has more energy than the 17 year olds I know 🙂 I’m yet 32, far away from the so-called ‘middle and old ages’ and the associated problems. But thanks to dancing, I live with the confidence that I’m going to live a very long and healthy life (unless I’m knocked down by one of those maniacs driving drunk on the Mumbai streets these days!)
    I must say I look forward to your article every week for the sheer variety and simplicity of the topics you talk about.

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    Meghna – extremely motivating. Thanks for sharing.

  • V.Subramanian wrote:

    I am sure that your fervent appeal will fall on no deaf ears.Completely endorse every syllable of your article.In my own little ways I have been coaxing most of my elderly relatives and propagating the goodness of daily walks preferably in the mornings. Have realised immense gains personally. Most importantly one feels light and healthy ,inducing a positive frame of mind which again has a multiplier effect.It is a myth of mangled neurons,that only diabetics meed to walk.
    For those who are 50+ and have never gone to a Gym, there is no alternative to regular walking amd sensible eating.Appreciate your passionate repeated appeals for the good of the society.

  • My Dear Bhavin
    Quite simulating clip. I think the 3, 10 min breaks are very comfortable which no one can disagree. As someone suggested if you have the will you will use any plain ground including your sweet home to take up walking, sans malls, tracks, open spaces etc., which luxury every Mumbaikar may not have. Lovely piece of health therapy.

    Warm regards

  • Mrs. Mehroo S. Kharegat wrote:

    I agree, walking is the best form of exercise however feel it should also be a pleasurable experience and not something you feel thrust down your throat. In our dear city, unless there is open space close to your house, it becomes a hassle especially for people of my age what with the potholes and uneven pavements. Under the circumstances it is best to try and walk in the house itself. I have an advantage of the distance between the verandah and bedroom quite substantial and by the time I walk up to the bedroom from the verandah, I forget the purpose for my walk and so one walks back to the verandah and this goes on. Now I wonder whether I should rejoice at the fact that I am able to walk so much or lament the fact that I am losing my memory!

  • […] while walk­ing for 30 min­utes and exer­cis­ing will sta­tis­ti­cally help us lead health­ier lives, I some­times won­der […]

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