A pack of chips will give you 150 calories and to burn 150 calories you need to walk for 30 minutes

We hear of numerous studies from all over the globe about the increasing number of people with diabetes. The single most important reason in addition to genetic factors seems to be obesity, particularly the abdominal fat (belly fat). Studies have shown that by adopting a healthy lifestyle, it is possible to postpone diabetes. An obese person with a family history of diabetes is expected to be physically active and to eat a balanced diet. However, this seems to be the greatest challenge.

People come up with all kinds of excuses when told to be physically active and to do regular exercise. The usual excuses I get from my patients are: I have to do all the cooking at home, I have to rush to office, I do lot of travel and don’t find time, I feel tired and so on.

Why do people find excuses for not doing exercise when they find time to sit in front of the TV for hours? Why don’t they realise that doing regular exercise and being physically active are an integral part of our life?

Similarly, people including children just love all junk food but would not care for some four servings of fruits and vegetables per day which have been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes.

Schoolchildren in the cities do not find time to do regular exercise because they have either a lot of homework or they just sit in front of the TV in their leisure time. This has resulted in high rates of obesity among school-going children, which can lead to diabetes.

The solution to this problem is to try to be physically active wherever and whenever possible. Please do not use the lift to go down and to go up one or two floors except when you have a knee problem. Please get up from your seat in your office and take a walk whenever possible. Try to cut down the time spent on TV watching and take a stroll in the garden or on terrace and get some fresh air. If you are very particular about watching TV, an alternative would be to do stationary cycling.

Similarly, youngsters spend a lot of time on social networks, often munching their favourite snacks which leads to obesity and diabetes. Spend some time doing jogging or brisk walking before or after your social networking routine. Taking one pack of chips will give you 150 calories and to burn 150 calories you need to do walking for 30 minutes.

Homemakers should not give the usual excuse that they are doing all the cooking and that is enough exercise. They should also spend at least 30 minutes doing some form of aerobic exercise. Frequent travellers could practise yoga in their hotel rooms or go for a walk around their hotel.

Therefore, we need to shrug off our inertia and put on a pair of sports shoes and go for a walk. Similarly, start enjoying the taste of fruits and vegetables, and not just the tasty oily and high calorie food which just leads to obesity and the clogging of arteries.

We need to kick-start this habit in our country to save our community from the lifestyle disorder, diabetes.

Points to remember

  • Do regular exercise without finding excuses
  • Take a balanced diet consisting of sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables.
  • Watch your weight every month and try to achieve the ideal body weight for your height.
  • People with risk of developing diabetes could do blood tests after the age of 30 years to diagnose the stage of pre-diabetes.

(Dr. Vijay Viswanathan, MD., PhD., FRCP (London & Glasgow), is Head & Chief Diabetologist, M.V. Hospital for Diabetes and Prof. M. Viswanathan Diabetes Research Centre, Royapuram, Chennai. His email ID is drvijay@mvdiabetes.com)

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