Move it, both ways

Physical activity and exercise are, interestingly, not the same, and Rujuta Diwekar is determined to get us to make the best of both.

The primary goal of exercise is that it brings about muscular contraction. It may seem really superficial and small compared to the complex organism that the
human body is; it is anything but shallow.

It has a profound effect on our health, wellbeing and fitness at all levels — physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual. The heart, for example, goes through major adaptations based on the kind of training or exercise programme that you subject your body to, writes Rujuta Diwekar in her latest book Don’t Lose Out, Work Out!

Latest research and evidence points conclusively towards the fact that sitting, or plain inactivity, characterised by lack of muscular contraction, is an independent risk factor to developing lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, disc prolapse, hernia, blood pressure, arthritis, cancer and everything in between.

Sitting is the new smoking. Just like smoking was, and remains, an independent risk factor to obesity, heart disease, cancer and everything in between, so is sitting.

“Independent risk factor” means that, irrespective of whether you “eat only home-cooked food”, “workout on almost all days”, “follow a disciplined lifestyle”, “love your job and don’t get stressed easily”, if you spend a considerable amount of time sitting or being inactive, then you are screwed.

Here go some insightful excerpts from the book on the problem and its solution:

Physical activity vs exercise

Man or woman, home or office, it’s important to stay physically active and not confuse it with exercise. They are vastly different but equally important, and doing one doesn’t make up for not doing the other. Ghar ki safaee, kitchen ke kaam, jhadoo-poncha (household chores) don’t make up for pushing weights in the gym, or learning to lift the waist in trikonasana, or doing a sprint interval in the sand. It’s like this: physical activity makes us fit enough to age and exercise reverses ageing.

Importance of physical activity

You must know that lack of physical activity and the risk that it brings will not be magically washed away by an hour in the gym or a walk in the park. What you do for 23 hours of your day will always have a greater bearing than what you do for one hour in the day. Having said that, exercise remains of paramount importance to human life, allowing you to make the most of the remaining 23 hours of the day.

150 mins of exercise

Now, before you start cribbing about how you don’t have that one hour and how if you had that one hour, I wouldn’t be making royalty on this book, let me tell you another interesting fact about exercise.

It takes as little as 150 minutes of exercise per week to improve blood glucose
tolerance, reduce body fat and the risk to all possible lifestyle diseases that come with obesity.

Indian mentality

We mistake inactivity as a necessary expression of our wealth or status in society. The memsahibs who carry LVs don’t even have to open the door of their own car to sit in the passenger seat.

The big sahib won’t rinse his own chai cup because he is either “too educated, too rich or too high up in the hierarchy”. We believe the lesser we move, the better it makes us, much more worthy of respect, power and clout. Really? All that it makes us is people who need to manage their diabetes, BP, thyroid, et all for 35 years and longer.

It turns us into a lazy population and makes lethargy and inactivity aspirational, much like that designer bag or that sea-facing bungalow.

Master your mind

Change in behaviour or attitude towards exercise and physical activity cannot be brought about by scientific evidence, but by a change of heart. And like all good things, it starts at home.

So be a man and clean up the kitchen every Sunday, work side-by-side with your sister, mother, wife and take an active part in sharing household responsibilities on a daily basis, including cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, etc. The body changes the minute you change your mind and embrace physical activity and exercise as a way of life.

For example, in as little as 48 hours post exercise, there’s improvement in insulin sensitivity. Now show me a drug that can do that in as little time and with no side-effects other than the feeling of wellbeing.

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