In India, exercise is not part of the culture. We are merely trained to provide for the family, may it be monetarily or culinarily. As far as I remember, walking, running or jogging every day was never a part of our daily routine. Only when we got older and wondered why we suddenly began putting on weight, was when we realized that we should work-out or exercise to remain fit. Or perhaps when the doctor told us, some of us listened and acted accordingly.
Otherwise, most of us are taught to focus on food (freshly made deep-fried samosas), academics (everyone wants a free doctor in the family), house (neighbours will talk if it is not sparkling clean) and in-laws (no comments). No one tells us how important it is to take care of ourselves. No one tells us the main reason for our many ailments. No one stresses on the need to exercise every day.
But, along with a healthy diet, any physical activity is very important for our body as well as our mind. Here’s why you should include it in your day-to-day routine according to nutritionist and dietician, Swati Narshana:
Low blood circulation leads to swollen veins and arteries (varicose or “spider” veins), uneasy feeling or heaviness in legs and feet, splitting, weeping or discolouration of the skin, ulcers, pelvic discomfort, etc. When you exercise, your heart pumps blood faster and your blood flow increases. This helps cleanse your arteries, too.
The effect of exercise on moods are very powerful. Exercises can boost the production of endorphins, which are known to help increase positive feelings and reduce the feeling of pain. Exercising on a regular basis helps you relax, lowers symptoms of mild depression/anxiety and increases your self-confidence, thereby helping you stay happier. In a study, women who had been diagnosed with depression showed that physical activity significantly decreased their negative thoughts. It also makes your mind alert and sharp.
Just like my 5-year-old son, when I’m deprived of sleep, I tend to get irritable all day. Exercising regularly helps you relax and get better sleep. The energy depletion, during any kind of physical activity, helps reduce sleep latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep) thereby benefitting adults with sleep disorders. Aerobics alone or aerobics along with resistance training can both help improve your sleep quality.
Metabolism includes all the chemical processes that help keep your organs functioning properly, such as breathing, repairing cells, digesting food and excretion. If you have gas, keep gaining weight, feel bloated or have hypothyroidism, your metabolism is probably low. From the age of 20 years, your metabolic rate tends to slow down and you begin losing muscle, too. Any physical activity helps you burn at least 30% of calories every day and is one of the best ways to boost your metabolic rate. A high metabolic rate can also help you lose weight depending on your exercise and diet combination. For diabetic patients, a regular walk of around 35 to 40 minutes will help control sugar levels, too.
2020 proved to be the year I lost the little stamina I had. With no physical activity (I had stopped giving belly dance classes online) and continuously blogging the whole year (because I had a lot of time), I did not realize the impact my sedentary lifestyle was having on my body. When I went on a trek in March this year, I puked after barely walking for 10 minutes on the slightly elevated ground towards the base camp. I then required assistance all the way up the hill. Physical activity may be the last thing you want to do after a tiring day of work. But consistent exercise helps build your stamina. Studies show that people who experience work-related fatigue improved their energy levels after weeks of physical activity sessions.
Physical activity is any movement that allows your muscles to work and your body to burn calories. These may include swimming, dancing (my favourite), walking (I do that daily now), jogging, running, cycling, etc. So, without any delay, start taking care of your body NOW! It is never too early or too late to begin looking after your health. If you start exercising daily, your body will not scream at you in the future.
All the best!
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