Monday, 17 June 2013

To stay fit,cycle or walk more: Study

  To stay fit,cycle or walk more: Study

                     People who walked or cycled to work had a better chance of keeping chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and high BP at bay, says a recent study.
Researchers from the Public Health Foundation of India and London's Imperial College looked at the health parameters of 4,000 male workers - 1,366 rural and 2,536 urban - and the way they travelled to work, to reach this conclusion.

Rural workers who cycled or walked to work were healthier than those who had their own transport or took the bus to work in urban areas.

Cities with their car lanes and gadgets for reducing daily workload could adversely affect people's health. "Our study shows that mechanized world does harm your heart,'' said epidemiologist Sutapa Agrawal from the Public Health Foundation of India.

Consider Mumbai, where people dial services to receive every essential item—be it grocery, medicines or food— at home. Walking is at a minimum; climbing bridges at railway stations is at best the only exercise that Mumbaikars consciously undertake. Preventive cardiologist Dr Aashish Contracter said, "The built-up environment of any place is important. Mumbai's environment isn't supportive for health. Forget greenery and parks, Mumbai doesn't even have footpaths for people to walk.''

Cycling and walking to work are concepts that are linked to a person's socio-economic status in India. "If a person has the money, he will buy a car. It doesn't matter whether he is from an urban or rural area,'' said Agarwal. Her study found that 68.3% of people in rural areas bicycled and 11.9% walked to work, compared with 15.9% cycling and 12.5% walking in towns and cities.

The team took up the study to underline that walking and bicycling were associated with reduced cardiovascular risk in the Indian population. "Efforts to increase active travel in urban areas and halt declines in rural areas should be integral to strategies to maintain healthy weight and prevent non-communicable diseases in India,'' she said.

Dr Contracter gave the example of France where people can hire bicycles at kiosks at street corners. "People can ride for a kilometre to two and deposit the cycle at a kiosk close to their destination. Clearly, more advanced the city, there is a better understanding on the need to promote public or active transport (such as cycling or walking),'' he said.

While the government could construct footpaths, the doctor said that Mumbaikars could run small errands themselves to stay healthier. "Instead of dialing your chemist to deliver medicines, walk yourself to the shop. Perform three-minute physical activity at least 15 times a day to stay fitter. These activities could range from climbing the stairs or getting off the bus at one stop earlier,'' he advised.

Health check

* The Indian Migration study covered 4,000 men.

* Health parameters of 1,366 rural and 2,536 urban workers and the way they travelled to work, were studied.

* People in rural areas were found to be healthier as they cycled or walked to work more often than urban counterparts.

* Doctors advise a three-minute physical activity regime at least 15 times in a day.

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