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!