Diet is everything they say.
Is it, however?
It is important but not everything.
Another vital component to living a healthy, illness-free life is activity or exercise.
Think of yourself as a car. Then nutrition is the fuel and exercise is the engine oil.
Think of yourself as a pizza. Then nutrition is the base and exercise is the toppings.
We could go on and on but you get the drift.
Experts say it’s 80% diet (or nutrition) and 20% exercise. But we all know those aren’t rigid figures.
A system as complex as the human body, its functioning, its composition cannot be expressed so lucidly in terms of numbers.
We are not denying that diet is important. It is. It is more important than exercise.
But this is exactly what undermines the importance of exercise.
The background story as to why exercise is so important is intriguing and if you know it, you will make sure you will exercise regularly.
A lot of years ago…
Man didn’t know anything about farming and was primarily a hunter-gatherer.
His entire day was spent in protecting himself from dangerous animals, finding food in the form of easy to kill animals, roots, fruits etc.
In performing all these tasks, man would walk, jog, run, climb, swim a lot throughout the day and sometimes even during the night.
This period, when man’s occupation was that of a hunter-gatherer, lasted for thousands of years.
Most of our habits and lifestyle traits are borrowed from this hunter-gatherer man of the ancient age. Two of them are-
Gorging on food.
During those times, the guarantee that there will be food for dinner or lunch tomorrow or for that matter any time soon was absent.
If you find a tree with fruits or hunt down a large animal, you simply eat it all up or as much as you can along with your family. This is the reason you feel like gorging on food when you go for buffets or when you see a lot of food.
“Our brains evolved when food was scarce; thus, we are compelled by our genetic legacy to eat whatever and whenever possible. Humans become hyperphagic, i.e. the tendency to eat a great deal of food, when palatable food is readily available.”
Source: Psychology Today
Once the hunter-gatherer man learned to cultivate crops, he started living a relatively sedentary life.
This was a great transition in terms of physical as well as mental aspects.
Our bodies are meant to move and minds are meant to be kept sharp. But the rise of farming was keeping man from both of these.
Necessity is the mother of invention and invention of sports was a necessity if man was to keep himself physically and mentally fit.
We aren’t talking about a lot of years here. Just a few thousands of years which are nothing as compared to the total time man has been on this planet.
In his book ‘Sapiens,’ Yuval Noah Harari has called Agriculture and its development as history’s biggest fraud!
For the lazy ones, the conclusions are…
- Humans were fitter before we learned agriculture
- We must eat everything and not just one particular type of food (like staples)
- We must exercise
So now you know why you gorge on food when you see a lot of food and what do sports exist for.
A lot of people gorge on food, but not many people play a sport. So let’s address the minority here!
Only a small fraction of our total population actively plays a proper sport either for livelihood or recreation.
What about the rest?
The rest are couch potatoes!
No wonder India has the highest number of diabetics and well on its way to becoming the most obese country in the world!
But this crisis can be averted. Team effort on an individual level can save India from obesity!
Didn’t get me?
If each and every one of you takes up a sport and sticks to it…
✓ We will have fewer diabetics
✓ We will have fewer blood pressure patients
✓ India will climb down the not so prestigious obesity ladder
A lot of people I know want to take up a sport or an activity but lack the initiative. And intention without initiative is hopeless.
So take the initiative…
Join the gym, go for morning runs, play with your kids, play badminton, cricket, football, swim, do something you’ve always wanted to do but never got the chance.
To make things simpler for you, we have listed down the best exercises you can take up. Have a look, choose one and take the initiative! 😀
Badminton is probably the best exercise you can take up with minimum investment and maximum benefits.
A recent survey has concluded that badminton is the second most played sport in India!
So what’s stopping you?
What do you need?
A couple of racquets, a shuttle cock and a playing partner and you are good to go! 😀
When you play badminton all your limbs get stretched. This tones your arms and legs.
Badminton also improves your hand-eye co-ordination. So that’s a good mental exercise as well.
In badminton, you have think fast, react faster and move really well to cover the court.
Doing this regularly will improve your reflexes and make you more flexible and smarter.
If you have been out of touch with any physical activity, we would suggest you to play for 30 minutes on alternate days and gradually increase this to 60 minutes every day for six days a week.
A good one hour session of badminton will burn anywhere between 300-450 calories depending on your current weight.
These are the reasons badminton makes it to the top of this list.
Perhaps the least popular physical activity on the list.
At the same time, one of the most effective one!
Like badminton, swimming doesn’t concentrate on one or few parts of the body but the entire body.
Hence, they are called full-body exercises.
The benefits of swimming are similar to those that playing badminton provides. But you have to work pretty hard to move forward due to the resistance that the water provides.
You can start out with learning how to (if you do not already) swim and then swimming for around an hour a day for six days a week is very healthy exercise.
A swimming subscription might be slightly costlier than the investments required for badminton, but it is as much effective, if not more.
Now comes the best part!
Swimming for an hour will burn 500-600 calories! That is like the number of calories you eat for breakfast or dinner!
So, it is a great exercise for weight loss.
And it is always good to know swimming! 😀
Most of our commute was on bicycles when we were in schools and colleges.
Bringing bread and milk from grocery store, going to schools and tuitions, bicycle races etc.
Bicycles are a part of every typical Indian childhood.
It has been rightly said…
So what’s stopping you?
What’s more cycling is one way of exercising without interrupting your routine. Simply use a bicycle for all your short distance commutes (up to 3-5 kilo meters).
If you do not like the roads or the pollution outdoors, you could get yourself one of those exercise bikes and start peddaling away in the comfort of your home.
An hour of dedicated cycling everyday will reward you with the burning of more than 400 calories. Depending upon your weight, you can burn up to 800 calories.
If you are seriously considering buying a bicycle now, here is a guide that can help you make the decision of which bicycle to buy with little to no fuss.
This good old exercise form has many takers.
Why? Because to jog you only need the will to hit the tracks; everything else (clothes, shoes, socks) is already there!
Jogging, particularly from among this list, is an addictive form of exercise.
Once you develop the habit of jogging, there is no way you would want to give up on it.
There is a good chance you must have spotted a lot of grey-haired men and women jogging early in the morning or in the evening.
If you strike a friendly conversation with these guys, you would be overwhelmed to know that these guys have been jogging for decades now and not because their doctors asked them, but out of a habit they have developed over decades.
And there is a very good chance that despite their age, they are fitter than you ever were.
Such is the power of jogging.
Many people prefer brisk walking to jogging, and that’s fine as well.
Like bicycling, jogging is also an exercise that you need not make separate time for everyday.
Walk your children to their schools, walk your pets, run your errands without your scooty or car, walk short distances on your office commute…
You can make jogging/walking a part of your daily lives with little effort.
Jogging, it has been proved, has a number of psychological effects on your mind as well.
Jogging has been proved to curb and eliminate depression.
So jogging, in short, makes you happy.
Brisk walking for an hour will burn as much as 400 calories whereas jogging for burn a whopping 550 calories per hour.
No, no! Not gymming! Not even cardio!
Weight training refers to exercising using either your body weight or a few dumb bells.
And you do not need to go to a gym to do weight training.
Because it doesn’t really require a lot of expertise or equipments.
You might have a friend who avidly goes to the gym who can teach you. Or you can hire an expert for a month or so and then be on your own.
Weight training includes exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, planks and even spot running. Using dumb-bells you can perform chest press, or tone your biceps and triceps.
You don’t need a subscription of a posh, air-conditioned gym to do weight training.
Just go out there, buy a few cheap dumb bells and you are good to go.
Regular weight training will not only burn a lot of calories but also bless you with an enviable chiselled body.
You can learn weight training via the internet as well.
The instructions are lucid, to the point and also warn you of commonly made mistakes that you must avoid.
An hour of weight training can burn anywhere between 300-800 calories (or even more) depending on your regime and enthusiasm.
Have you ever observed how physically fit and strong dancers are?
Not to mention how happy they are when the stage is all theirs to dance and frolic around!
Even the mention of the word ‘dancing’ is capable of making people smile and de-stress.
Dancing may seem like a recreational activity or a hobby to most of you, but it is also a form of physical exercise.
They say you can dance away your sorrows, which is true!
Join a dance class with your partner or spouse or even a friend.
This will not only make you and your partner fitter and happier but also give you precious time with them, which is a luxury for most couples today!
There are ample of dance classes around, especially in urban areas. You need not join the best or the most expensive one.
Remember that you do not wish to be a professional dancer.
Your motives of dancing are to move, to de-stress and to spend more time with your beloved.
So call your partner up right now and tell them that you two are joining a dance class!
An hour of dancing will burn anything north of 300 calories, depending upon the dance type.
Most of you must have been wondering what is yoga doing at the end of the list, right?
But this is not because it ranks the lowest; it is because we have an entire dedicated article that tells how beneficial yoga is, not only physically but also mentally.
You can find that article here. Do give it a read.
So we have come to the end of the article.
We have given you 7 options to choose from!
Remember! You can choose any from the above or even something that doesn’t feature in this list (For example Squash, rowing, football etc).
Don’t be befuddled with choices, pick one and get moving. Like we said earlier in the post, intention without initiative is hopeless.
So take the plunge and all you will ever do is thank us!
This is Scientific Nutrition signing off!