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What’s best for you!

August 17, 2014


We, the South Asians, are greatly impressed by the goras (white men) without considering that they can be foolish like many of us. One such gora, a PhD scholar at Glasgow University, says that South Asians will have to exercise longer than Europeans in order to score similar improvements in their workout because they are obese and carry more fat on their bellies. I don’t understand where the ethnic factor comes in. An obese man, irrespective of his/her ethnicity will have to exercise harder and more than normal people.

Physical exercises, their intensity, repetition and duration vary from person to person as well as goals that each individual sets for himself/herself. If your exercise is not goal-oriented, you will keep on exercising without achieving the desired results or you might end up in a hospital.

I was thin, slim and had a fat-free belly till the age of 25 when I got married. I used to swim a kilometre five days a week and maintain my figure. After marriage, I could take less time out for exercise; on top of that my wife was a great cook, so I would eat a lot. After 28, I started experiencing muscle decline which is natural. Within a couple of years, I was obese and had a tyre of a tractor around my belly! I kept on walking, running and swimming but I could never get back the body that I used to have a few years back.

Physical exercises, their intensity, repetition and duration vary from person to person as well as goals that each individual sets for himself/herself

My friends discouraged me, saying that it was very difficult to burn the belly fat and impossible to have the physique of 28 at 40. I didn’t listen to them; however, I took the advice of a female friend seriously. She was an athlete from South Africa. She advised me to work on muscles. What a great advice it was — I was 39 then and within six months I got the same teenage physique back. I disproved the myths that it is impossible to burn belly fat at 40 or that starting intense workout at a late age is dangerous. Whenever I stopped exercising, I started accumulating fat on my body. I would re-start the intense workout and get rid of the fat again. This hide-and-seek continues till today!I interviewed hundreds of people at the gym — young boys, middle-aged folks like me and elderly people besides analysing their workout pattern and I learnt that different types of exercises done in different ways using different technique at different repetitions and duration would have different impact on your body. If you are a fine swimmer and you travel around the world and you happen to visit the beaches then it is good to have a ripped, hard, six-pack body with a lot of muscle. For this, you will need to do an intense weight training to build muscles so that your metabolism could work fast and you could burn calories quickly. Besides this, you will have to do intense cardio-vascular exercises, e.g. short sprints at full pace at intervals. You will have to at least run for more than 3km at intervals at a speed of 7min per km. You will have to swim for at least a km everyday with such speed that at the end of the lap, you must be panting. You will have to alternate your exercises between weight training, running and swimming. Cycling is also another substitute for running.

If six-packs are not your ‘first love’ and you just want your waist between 33-34, then a 22-hour brisk walk in a month or 15-hour jogging or 10-hour running — depending on your age as well as the condition of your knees and joints — is an effective workout. You can alternate between walking/jogging/running and swimming or power workout. Or, you could simply do a 15-minute weight training five days a week and have a full body massage on weekends to keep yourself fit.

Swimming is the best exercise for elderly people. At the swimming pool I go to, an old man of around 90 swims six days in a week in breast-stroke. His body is fat-free and he walks without a stick. There is another elderly gentleman who has broken his leg but he floats regularly. There is no ideal exercise than swimming for those with fractured limbs or weak joints. The human body becomes extremely light — almost weightless — in water and one can float with back, arms and legs or with one of these body parts. One can also take the help of floats to keep himself/herself afloat. The people who are bed-ridden can also do physical exercises by moving/twisting their legs, wrists in bed.A break is very important in your exercise programme.

A two-day break relaxes your muscles. The muscles increase in size and get power only when given adequate rest. Too much exercise is also dangerous. Always watch your heartbeat while exercising. Sometimes, the passion overcomes the capacity and we can collapse.

And above all, the most important thing is diet and its quantity. Wrong diet and wrong quantity are devastating. They will instantly ruin your exercise. Keep in mind the universal rule: eat and sleep less and exercise a lot! This is the only way to stay healthy till you kick the bucket!

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, August 17th, 2014