Racing driver Karun Chandhok cycles 80 km a day to prepare for the justbegun FIA World Endurance Championship. Every morning he wakes up at six, and after a breakfast that includes bananas and muesli, leaves his home in Kotturpuram, Chennai, by car, carrying his bicycle in the boot. At the toll gate on East Coast Road, he switches to the bicycle, cycling all the way to Mahabalipuram and back.
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Executives need not emulate the fitness regimen of a top racing car driver, but some try. One such is Mumbai-based Priyanka Gupta, Executive Director, MPIL Steel Structures, who too wakes up early three days a week to cycle 50 km, from 5.30 to 7.30 a.m. "Given the traffic in Mumbai, I have to rise early if I want to cycle at all," she says.
Medical opinion has long maintained that waking up early and working out regularly contribute greatly to good health. Why so? "In the morning hours, there is very high secretion of certain substances called catecholamines, which increase the blood pressure and the likelihood of blood clotting," says Dr N.N. Khanna, Senior Interventional Cardiologist at Apollo Hospitals. "So, if executives are working out in the morning, it reduces their risk of cardiac arrest or a stroke." It also reduces stress. "People who work out in the morning are happy people, because morning workouts produce endorphins, which are stress busters," says Dr Sameer Srivastava, Associate Director of Non Invasive Cardiology at Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, Delhi. "They should also do breathing exercises in the mornings and stay relaxed."
Another key element in the morning routine that helps to maintain good health is having breakfast. Missing this meal because of the morning rush is simply not on. "There is no work-life balance for an entrepreneur, especially when one's company is in its early stages," says Vidya Nataraj, co-founder of Bluestone. com, an online jewellery store. "But I am very particular about having breakfast, which includes oats, milk and fruits." Nataraj also makes it a point to climb the 26 steps leading to her office on the first floor every day instead of taking the lift and usually works out in the evenings.
There is no denying, however, that many executives still get by without doing any of these. For some, morning compulsions leave them no time. Soni Khanna, marketing manager with an educational agency called Chopras, and a mother of two, says the children and household work take up her mornings. How does she beat stress? "It is difficult," she says. "Once I reach office, I forget I have a home. When I'm back at home, I forget I work in an office."
Prem Kumar, Managing Director of handset making company Fly Mobile India, prevents stress simply by staying relaxed. He rises at 6.45 a.m. daily and after "hopping into the kitchen to make an egg or a dosa", leaves for work at 8.15. "Work is a very personal part of my life. It is a seamless flow," he says.