Unfortunately, for most South Asians, exercise is not a way of life. Before the economy shifted toward high-tech jobs and mass transportation became readily available, working and commuting involved some degree of physical activity. Today sedentary occupations have contributed to the epidemic of obesity, diabetes and early heart disease in South Asians. Since many jobs no longer involve much physical activity, it is imperative for South Asian families to incorporate exercise into their daily lives.
30 Minutes of Daily Exercise
You need to get 30 minutes of daily exercise at least five times a week. If you are trying to lose weight, your exercise needs to be aerobic, meaning continuous for at least 30 minutes while maintaining your target heart rate. Ask your personal physician what your target heart rate should be. Commonly, a target heart rate is calculated by multiplying 70 percent times (220 minus your age).
For example, if you are 40 years of age:
220 - 40 = 180
0.70 x 180 = 126 beats per minute
This number may be higher or lower depending on your goals, fitness level and doctor's recommendation.
However, any increase in activity can benefit your health. Numerous studies from around the world have shown that moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, gardening, household work and other leisure activities, can reduce heart attack, stroke and overall death rates by at least 30 to 40 percent. The overall message is that some activity is much better than no activity. Note: You should always check with your personal physician prior to beginning a new exercise program.
Creative Ways to Get Physical
- Walking — Buy a pedometer, an affordable instrument that measures how many steps you walk. Aim for 10,000 steps per day. Keeping track of your steps can really be a great motivator.
- Interrupted workouts — If you cannot find a 30- to 40-minute block of time in your day to exercise, even three to four 10-minute intervals can produce significant health benefits.
- Power lunches and meetings — Recruit your colleagues for a brisk walk during lunch, breaks or even a meeting.
- Social gatherings — Replace sedentary activities like eating out and watching movies with hiking, biking and other outdoor activities.
- Housework and gardening — Increase your daily physical activity around the house and yard.
- Commuting — Park further away. Walk or bike to work. Get off one or two bus or subway stops before your usual destination and walk the rest of the way.