As gyms remain off the radar for most people due to safety concerns amid the Covid-19 pandemic, people are moving to free-weight and cardiovascular exercises to build endurance and stay in shape. Cycling is gaining popularity as the preferred mode of workout in these times.
Children and the youth love it, and now even the doctors are advocating it, especially to the patients with lifestyle ailments.
Doctors said that people having lifestyle ailments and non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and arthritis need at least 30-50 minutes of daily exercise to manage their chronic conditions.
Dr Maninder Shah Singh, Orthopaedic and Joint Replacement Surgeon, Indian Spinal Injuries Center, New Delhi, said that lack of adequate physical activity can worsen the disease condition of such patients and can make them vulnerable to further complications. “Cycling can prevent it in a great way,” he added.
“A worrying by-product of the Covid induced social isolation regime has been a further reduction in physical activity levels of the people. Even as gyms have started reopening, not many people are comfortable sharing space during workouts with growing disease prevalence. Yoga clubs, group exercise sessions such as pilates, Zumba classes, etc., have also been suspended.
“As doctors, we advise patients to ensure they get at least 30 minutes of exercise through any means. Cycling is one of the safest and the best forms of exercise during this time and is very effective for diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, etc. It can also help keep weight under check without compromising social distancing norms,” Singh added.
Cycling is a non-impact cardiovascular exercise that not only imparts strength to the bone structure, but can rejuvenate the entire body, including abs, lumbar muscles, and arms. At the same time, it also helps lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels while keeping a lid on your blood pressure.
A largely sedentary lifestyle of many urban Indians is a major health concern. The lockdown has further compounded this problem. A study published in the Lancet journal had revealed that cardiovascular diseases contributed 28.1 per cent to the total deaths in India in 2016, compared with 15.2 per cent in 1990.
Dr R R Dutta (Internal Medicine), Paras Hospital, Gurugram, said that urban authorities should use people’s growing liking of cycling as an opportunity. “In the current Covid era, when people are scared of going to gyms and yoga studios, and any group workouts are nearly impossible due to obvious safety issues, cycling is the best way to a healthier body and management of chronic diseases.
“We recommend that people should actively take up cycling as a regular part of their lives. Urban authorities must also use this situation as an opportunity to create safe cycling zones across cities. This would not only enable people to take up cycling to work but will also have a long term benefit on the health of the population,” he said.
However, Dr Megha Jaina, a clinical nutritionist from the B. L. Kapoor Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi, advised that people should go for a variety of exercises rather than sticking to only one mode of workout.
“Cycling is indeed good for cardiovascular functioning, but it majorly involves only leg muscles. People should mix variety in their workouts to train other body parts as well as yoga, free-hand, and bodyweight strength-building exercises,” she said.
Dr Neha Pathania, chief dietitian, Paras Hospital, Gurugram, said that diet plays a more critical role in maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle besides keeping the non-communicable diseases at bay. “If cycling is coupled with a healthy diet, it does wonders for the human body. A person should eat a balanced diet to have a healthy body and mind. Balanced diet consists of the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and other minerals,” she added.