“Working out positively affects your mental health”

October 18, 2020

Actor Usman Mukhtar shares how exercise helps him stay away from stress and anxiety.

Actor-director Usman Mukhtar made his acting debut with movie Janaan (2016), followed by a lead role in Parchi (2018) alongside Hareem Farooq and Ali Rehman Khan. He later ventured into television with drama serial Anaa in which he played the character of Altamash and received positive reviews for his performance.

Currently the actor can be seen essaying the role of a psychiatrist in drama serial Sabaat, which also features Mawra Hocane, Sarah Khan and Ameer Gilani in lead roles.

The actor, who also helmed the award-winning short film titled Bench, shares his fitness regime and stresses on the importance of mental health.

Lifestyle choices

Usman Mukhtar shares that if he has a project coming up or if he has to lose weight then he goes on a very strict diet. “Having said that, I love eating junk food and I am big fan of gourmet burgers, so it all depends on what my fitness goals are at that point,” he reveals, adding that he just wants to be at a certain weight and that’s what he is trying to maintain.

He continues, “For certain roles you have to gain or lose weight according to your character, so it is always something new when a project is starting.”

Talking about the amount of sleep required to stay healthy, he says, “Anywhere between 6 to 8 hours of sleep is important for your body, especially when you are working out.”

Eating preferences

According to the actor and director, he makes sure to incorporate all food groups in his diet while trying to stay within his calorie count. “I believe that consuming every food group is necessary for your body. I take my carbohydrates (carbs), fats and protein and I just try to go by the diet plan that I have developed on my own or that is given by my trainer; it varies,” he informs.

On a regular day Usman consumes an omelette (made with 4 or 5 egg whites) for breakfast with two slices of multigrain bread and a cup of coffee. For lunch he has grilled chicken with some brown rice, broccoli and sweet potatoes. “At night I either have fish or chicken or at times, if I am not in the mood to eat or chew, because for me it is a little difficult to chew chicken without carbs, I go for boiled eggs or an omelette. Also I try to avoid carbohydrates at night,” he adds.

Usman also went on to say that he’s not really big on juices and shakes, but the only shake he consumes is his post workout protein shake.

Workout regime

Speaking of his exercise routine, he shares, “I have been doing weight training for quite some time now. Other than that I am big MMA (mixed martial arts) and kick boxing fan. I trained for MMA for a bit and recently I switched to boxing; so doing a lot of boxing these days.”

He furthers, “I workout around five days a week with my personal trainers - Hassan, who is my boxing coach and Asad, who assists me with weight training. We have assigned days for each exercise group and my trainers really help me out with my diet and workout plans as well.”

On what equipment he uses, the Sabaat actor says that it really depends on his workout schedule for the week. “I do lots of shadow boxing, skipping and boxing drills for the days assigned for boxing. And when we have weight training days we go for compound exercises, like leg press, bench press, squats etc.” He adds, “There are some aforementioned exercises that I also do at home but sometimes when I don’t feel like working out I go for cycling.”

Mental health and stress management

Usman Mukhtar with his biking partner Uzair Jaswal

“I firmly believe that working out positively affects your mental health,” stresses Usman. “I can clearly tell the difference on days when I don’t exercise and indulge in junk food; I feel low and my anxiety levels go up. However when I regularly work out at the gym or go for running or cycling I feel positive, happy and this is what motivates me to stay healthy as well as maintain a healthy lifestyle,” he asserts.

So what is your stress management strategy, we asked? “I try to do a lot of breathing exercises. I go out for running or cycling – these are my cardio routine and that really helps me deal with my stress,” he responds.

Piece of advice

“During this stressful time, when there is so much uncertainty about what is going to happen and when Covid-19 will be over, I feel that the best way to deal with the whole situation is work out and incorporate some kind of activity in your daily routine,” he explains. “I say that because exercise helps you in staying positive and keeps your mind in the right place and this is something that’ll help you maintain a healthy lifestyle during the pandemic,” he adds.

On a parting note Usman Mukhtar advises his fans and followers to try and reduce the intake of processed foods as much as possible and also cut out sugar from the diet. “Incorporate a lot of organic foods in your diet, this is something that I try following as well,” he concludes.

“Working out positively affects your mental health”: Usman Mukhtar