Beef nihari, chicken biryani, and kabab paratha - these dishes are considered a staple in the Pakistani cuisine. They are an essential part of the weekly rotation menu whether grabbing a bite outside or a cooked meal at home. But did you know that beef nihari adds up to a whooping 560 calories per serving and this is without a naan to accompany it which is an additional 262 calories per serving. The problem isn’t the biryanis or the parathas, but the amount of physical exercise that we put in every single day. This is not an issue that only Pakistanis are facing, but a global problem that became incredibly prominent after the pandemic.
When the gyms shut down, curfews were implemented and work from home became a norm, our lifestyle has become one that is exceedingly sedentary. A sedentary lifestyle is when someone spends six or more hours per day sitting or lying down, and they lack significant physical movement in their daily life. Most of our work is completed whilst sitting down; desk jobs have become much more common. Our entertainment does not include ‘playing sports’ but to scroll away on our mobile phones or to watch television. Only 1 in 5 people are moderately physically active in urban cities.
It is high time this needs to change. Physical activity should be a part of our daily lives, it could include the gym, or a walk, or climbing stairs. Below are some easy ways to implement physical exercise in our daily lives:
Walking 30 minutes a day, keeps the doctor away: Physical activity is extremely important not just for the body but for our mental health too. It relieves stress, improves memory, boosts mental alertness and reduces anxiety and depression. Our minds need to be refreshed constantly; sitting behind a screen and scrolling only damages our attention span, decreases our energy and makes us feel lethargic. A brisk walk early in the morning or later in the evening is phenomenal for our cardiovascular health; strengthens bones, increases muscle power and even improves memory. It aids in managing conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Leave the lift: To lead a healthy life, it is important to take small steps consistently. Small changes add up to big results over time. Choose the stairs, over the lift. Opt for wholegrain bread rather than white bread. Omit sugar out of our morning chai. Try to develop these small changes into habits. These habits are feasible to carry out for a long period of time and are some ways to become active mindfully.
Do it yourself: How often do we order grocery through a delivery service rather than going out and buying them ourself? In cities like Karachi, technology has been integrated in most aspects of our lives. Just at the touch of our fingertips, food is delivered to our doorstep, the salon comes home to us for the services that we need, and even the veterinarian doctor facilitates at home now. This has limited physical activity to almost zero. Small steps add up to big changes. Instead of calling or using applications to have them deliver your items, why not run the errand yourself.
Nutritional lifestyle: Halwa puri and channa chaat are absolutely delicious and are a part of our culture. But eating decadent food on a regular basis is not doing our physiological health any favours. Blood-pressure, diabetes and heart attacks are common occurrences in Pakistan, even in young men and women. Although we cannot change the way we eat, we could try to make it healthier for us by adding raw vegetables to our plates. Having a heavier breakfast and lighter supper, as the heavier meal’s energy can be utilised during the day better rather than at night, that is when the energy is stored which is then converted into fat.
Brains and brawns: Studies show that even a 30-minute workout of any level regularly decreases depression and dementia by 20-30 per cent. It reduces anxiety as well. Moving our body habitually not only elevates our mood but has long-term positive effects on our mental health as well. Exercise causes the brain to release ‘feel good’ chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that help improve the mood. This aids in a higher self-esteem and greater confidence level which further leads to other benefits.
Health and technology: With technology being a huge part in decreasing our physical activity and overall movement, why not use it to our advantage? Fitness apps, fitness watches and YouTube videos all are available just a click away, we can use this to our benefit by incorporating mindful and wholesome thoughts into our daily routines. Fitness apps track our movement and even alert the user if they have been stagnant for an unusual amount of time, reminding them and coercing them to get up and move. Whereas videos are freely available to watch, learn and imitate, allowing viewers to execute any form and level of physical activity from the comfort of their homes.