The no. 1 change if you’re diagnosed with diabetes

Of course you need to change up your diet, but you’ll also need to start exercising, and it must go beyond 150 minutes a week

Updated - October 01, 2018 02:56 pm IST

Published - October 01, 2018 02:55 pm IST

Male feet in white socks and gumshoes standing near grunge white line on gray asphalted road, ready to go

Male feet in white socks and gumshoes standing near grunge white line on gray asphalted road, ready to go

How much exercise is right for you? The World Health Organization’s guidelines say, “150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.” Dr Anoop Misra disagrees. As Chairman at Fortis-CDOC Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology, Delhi, he has looked at Indian data that’s come out over the last 15 years to give us a number that’s double, in his book Diabetes with Delight: A Joyful Guide to Managing Diabetes In India .

“To conquer any disease, one needs to understand one’s own body first,” says Dr Misra. He points out that the 150-minute guideline is a tad misplaced in the Indian context. “As a race, we have a slow metabolism, a sluggish liver, and accumulated fat, so we need to toil double and do much more with our diet and fitness regime. In addition, compared to Caucasians, South Asians have a lower muscle mass and function, and cardio-respiratory fitness,” he says. “Indians should do a minimum of 300 minutes of exercise a week, including 30 minutes of structured cardio (brisk walking/swimming/cycling/playing badminton), along with 5 to 10 minutes of weight-training,” he asserts. However, this may not apply if you’re pregnant or have serious medical issues.

As a student and later as faculty and professor at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, in the early 90s, he would often be perturbed by what he read in books and reference material drawn from the West, and what he saw in the hospital wards filled with patients with different types of diets, body constitution, and vulnerability. There was a mismatch between Western data and Indian reality. So he spent four years, and compiled data from AIIMS, Delhi; PGIMER, Chandigarh; Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, Chennai; and Dr CS Yajnik’s diabetes department at KEM Hospital Research Centre, Pune.

If you haven’t done any physical activity ever, he says a good way to start is with 15 minutes of normal-paced walking. Increase it by five minutes every week until you reach 30 minutes. Another 10-15 minutes of walking can be spread over intervals of two-to four minutes every two hours of sedentary work during the day.

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