According to a recent study published in The Lancet Global Health journal, 57% of women in India were found to be insufficiently physically active, compared to men (42%), in line with trends across the South Asian region while almost 50% of adults in India engaged in insufficient levels of physical activity in 2022. Additionally, an international team of researchers, including those from the World Health Organization (WHO), claimed that the South Asian region also ranked the second highest in terms of adults being insufficiently physically active after high-income Asia Pacific region.

Urgent wake-up call for India: Lancet study shows half of Indians physically unfit. Here’s how to begin exercising (Image by Freepik)

If the current trends continue, the study projected that by 2030, 60% of the adults could be insufficiently engaging in physical activity as in India, a little over 22% of the adults engaged in insufficient physical activity in the year 2000 while in 2010, close to 34% of the adults were insufficiently physically active. This raises an urgent wake-up call for India as a 2023 Indian Council of Medical Research-India Diabetes (ICMR-INDIAB) study, published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal, estimated that 101 million people in India were diabetic in 2021 and about 315 million had hypertension the same year.

India’s Fitness Challenge:

Given our deteriorating health graph, it is crucial to start our fitness journey now and adopt actionable steps to get active and begin exercising. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Manish Pendse, Senior Consultant Physician and Diabetologist at Medicover Hospitals in Navi Mumbai, shared, “Poor lifestyles and unhealthy food choices are some of the main reasons behind the major population being unfit. People tend to choose processed, packaged, or junk food instead of eating healthy food. This significantly hampers their health resulting in several health issues like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, digestive problems, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stroke and skin problems.”

What You Can Do Now:

Dr Manish Pendse asserted, “It becomes essential to indulge in physical activities or exercise, to keep your body fit and away from multiple diseases. Your fitness regime could include low-impact exercises like walking, jogging, meditation and Yoga and intense physical activities like running, cardio, weight lifting, and hitting the gym. Being physically active for at least 30 to 40 minutes daily can stimulate metabolism helping in managing weight.”

The health expert suggested, “Eat well-balanced food that contains equal amounts of essential nutrients like protein, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and omega-3 fatty acids. Make healthy food choices that are low in calories, cholesterol, and saturated fats, and contain sugar, and salt in moderation. Keep a daily track of your body weight to see if you are gaining weight or losing weight. This can help you create a tailored plan to maintain your physical and psychological health.”

He cautioned, “Avoid unhealthy habits like drinking alcohol, chewing tobacco, smoking, sitting in one place for prolonged hours without taking adequate breaks and eating at unusual hours. Consult your doctor for expert guidance and tips to maintain fitness in this fast-paced life. Stress also leads to weight gain and gastric problems, It is imperative to de-stress by doing activities that calm you down.”