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Get Off Your Butt Now!

Some Tips For Raising Your Heart Beat

Are you a couch potato? Is your idea of exercising moving your jaw muscles to chew food, or raising your arm to aim the remote control? Stop that now and get off your lazy behind! Here are some tips on how to lead a healthier, more active life from Goa Streets’ psychologist Dr. Charlane Pereira e Rebello.

According to the World Health Organization physical inactivity is the 4th leading risk factor for death worldwide.

Though there has been no comprehensive nationwide survey in India on physical activity levels involving both urban and rural areas of the country, the ‘Indian Council of Medical Research – India Diabetes’ study on physical activity patterns showed that 54.4% of those covered by the study were ‘inactive’, while 31.9%, were ‘active’ and 13.7% were ‘highly active’.

People were more inactive in urban as compared with rural areas and males were significantly more active than females.

Obesity, which can be the result of a sedentary lifestyle, is also a silent killer. There has been an steady increase in obesity and overweight rates the world over from 1980 to 2013. The current global ‘overweight or obese’ rate stands at 28%.

According to the Health Intelligence Bureau report (2007) of the Directorate of Health Services in India, 27 % of Goan women were overweight or obese, much higher than the all India figure of 14.8%. And 20.8% of Goan men were obese or overweight, higher than the all India figure of 12.1%.

The WHO has recommended that physical activity should be reintegrated into our daily living routines, pointing out that it has a range of benefits which range from reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases to improving mental well-being. It can lead to increased social connectedness and higher levels of self-esteem, generate positive moods, increase confidence and reduce stress and depression – all of which can add many years to our lives.

Furthermore, the association between physical and mental health has been strongly supported in many research studies. In a study by Naylor et al in 2012, it was found that around 30% of people with a long-term physical health condition also had a mental health problem. Other studies have shown that mental wellbeing, in turn, can improve survival rates in cancer patients.

Here are a few cases where physical activity has benefited the old and the obese:

Manuelina Lewis, a 75 year widow says, “I suffer from arthritis. Five years back, I had undergone a surgery for knee replacement. My physiotherapist has asked me to do exercises for my stiff fingers and knees. That is what I do when I wake up every morning and I am much better now.”

Fatima Fernandes, a homemaker and mother of 2 kids from Dramapur says, “I weighed a heavy 85 kgs. I was determined to lose the extra flab. With my husband’s encouragement, I joined a gym. Now, I am a healthy 58 kgs. No more hassles of asking for XXL at fashion outlets and my husband Albino is very happy.”

Physiotherapist Roseline Rodrigues working at MPT, Vasco says, “A paraplegic patient, 30 years of age, showed a marked improvement following physiotherapy treatment. Within a year, she was able to walk with the help of assistive device. She had regained her muscle power and there was tremendous improvement in her neurological condition.”

Equating physical fitness to working out in gyms and going for brisk walks is a misconception. One can be physically active in one’s own home as well as at work. Here are a few tips for the young and the old, the working and the non-working classes:

Children – In Goa, 40% of children in rural schools and 5% of lower middle class children are obese. Though schools have physical education class, parents can schedule a play time for their kids in the evenings. Limit the child’s use of cell phones, tablets, laptops and playing video games.

Professionals – Walk to your workplace even if it’s a kilometer away. Climb stairs rather than taking the lift. Cut short those long periods of sitting at work. Don’t miss your coffee breaks. Those flimsy excuses “I have no time” or “I will exercise in vacation” won’t do!

Homemakers – Stop being a couch potato. Give your maid a break. Plant a few trees in your garden. Rake the leaves in your yard. Walk your dog. Play with your children. Mow your lawn.

Elderly – From yoga to a set of simple exercises (say just simple hand and leg movements even) can help the aged to be more active. Don’t entertain misconceptions such as “I am too old now to exercise” or “I might get a cardiac attack” or “I have worked hard during my youthful years and now it is time to relax” or “I might fall down and have fractures.”

The WHO has recommended a schedule of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity per day for children and adolescents, and 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week for adults. How many of us can claim to do this? It’s time to get cracking!