Sriraj Paul, 26, a software engineer with a multinational corporation in the National Capital Region, works 13 to 16 hours a day. He clocks in by 11 a.m. and never leaves office before midnight, sometimes even staying till 2 or 3 a.m. Every morning it is a mad rush to get to work after waking up at around 9.30. He invariably skips making breakfast, and by the time he reaches office, there is no breakfast available at the office's canteen as well. Is such a lifestyle sustainable? Does he exercise at all?
In fact, he does. Every evening at 7.30 he takes a break, hopping across to a nearby stadium to run a few laps. At work he eschews the elevator, always taking the stairs to his fifth floor cubicle. "I have a healthier lifestyle than most software engineers I know," he says.
It is not only software engineers. All those with demanding work schedules find it difficult to put time aside to work out. But doctors and fitness experts endorse Paul in pointing out that even those whose impossibly busy schedules leave them little spare time can stay fit if they work some routine physical activity into their frequently sedentary lifestyles. Even walking up to the television set to switch it on manually instead of using the remote, running down to the canteen for lunch rather than having it at one's desk, walking up to the coffee machine for a cup of coffee rather than sending the office boy to fetch one, or walking around while speaking on the mobile phone, makes a difference. Merely staying on one's feet for a length of time does good too: to improve general health, it is worth holding meetings in a room without chairs.
Besides, some exercises can be performed while at work. "Everyone can do a bit of stretching or shoulder rotations," says Marc Zimmerman, head trainer at SportsFit
, the company recently launched by India's cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to set up a chain of gyms
. "Or he can park his car a kilometre away and walk to the office."
Indeed the benefits of walking regularly - and not all of them physical - are legion. "For those beginning a fitness regimen, it is always better to walk than to start running right away," adds Zimmerman. "Walking puts less pressure on the knee joints."
A global wellness company, Stepathlon Lifestyle Pvt Ltd, which works with companies to get their employees to walk more, also set foot in the country in early June. It will soon launch a pedometer-based, mass participation programme to get people to walk at least 10,000 steps a day for 100 consecutive days. "A healthy employee is one who is most productive too," says Ravi Krishnan, the company's co-founder and CEO. "Our programme is intended to create awareness of the benefits of an active lifestyle.