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Old 11th December 2018, 10:58   #16
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Default Re: Why are Indians so unfit?

Some terms we usually hear:
Fitness comes from 80% diet and 20% exercise.
Breakfast like a king... have dinner like a beggar.

Most of our urban lifestyles have now been built according to convenience. I remember in our childhood, we ended up doing most errands or repairs by ourselves. We even used our holidays to paint the walls in our house. It used to be a fun activity. Dinners were done by 8pm, the family used to be up an about by 6am at the latest. After 8pm, everyone used to gather and chat with the neighbours.

My grandparents ate more local food than global and had enough miles daily that ensured they remained healthy till their last years. I don't remember much food being eaten from the fridge. There was no microwave to reheat food. Of course, there was no food delivery and eating out was quite rare. Even on train journeys we used to carry home made food. If someone fell sick, neighbors shared food. Even as non vegetarians, we did not eat meat more than once a week.

I wonder if this is really called development, when our fitness has actually regressed overall, in terms of our habits and interpersonal relationships. Now even if we meet friends, the plan is usually to eat out or order for food made elsewhere with highly questionable processes and contents.

Last edited by selfdrive : 11th December 2018 at 11:00.
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Old 11th December 2018, 11:08   #17
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Default Re: Why are Indians so unfit?

In the US, what I noticed is that poor people are highly prone to obesity. High corn subsidies impact everything there; cheap High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), cheap Corn being fed to cattle (hence cheaper beef)....these find their way to fast food joints. Fast food comes cheap. Poor people there eat fast food.

Eating proper food (organic, vegan etc.) is a costly indulgence in the US. Ergo, the fittest chicks and hunks I've seen on this planet were the upwardly mobile of the US.

In our country, I think it's a combination of increased use of refined foods which are calorie rich and lack of exercise.

Do you think our ancestors consumed refined, white sugar crystals? Rice wasn't always the husk-less variety we consume today. Wheat is so fine these days, bereft of roughages...all these are so calorie rich that you can't even begin to benefit by exercising. Let me illustrate with an example - a small pack of 'Marie Gold' biscuits, if consumed by you, has a bomb-load of calories in it - around 600 calories. It's made of highly refined ingredients and is highly calorie-dense. To burn off the calories you've consumed in it, you would need to go walk for ~ 12 Km!

I'll repeat: 1 Marie Gold biscuit packet = 12 Km of walking

And then you'll have still other refined foods in a even exercising is pointless unless you consume whole foods.

We've gone refined and obese IMO.
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Old 11th December 2018, 11:49   #18
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Default Re: Why are Indians so unfit?

Originally Posted by V.Narayan View Post
I don't agree that Westerners universally are fitter. They are more polarized into the disciplined fitness ones and the 110 kgs waddlers.
Yeah, this is my impression too. More often than not, my American colleagues are obese and generally not fit. Quite a few of them were actually good sportsmen in school and college (they love showing the pictures and describing their teams), but the years have taken their toll. Of course that doesn't change the fact that a lot of Indians are unfit too.

Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
One can argue that only the fit foreigners travel but the contrast was overwhelming.
This is true. A lot of the budget/backpacking foreign travellers will be in their early 20s and generally of the more adventurous type. So the chances of them being fitter are much, much higher.

Originally Posted by Sheel View Post
One of my niece [born & brought up in US] quipped, why everyone in India shows their love through food?
Oh man, this is SO true! I've been a person with a moderate appetite since childhood and it's sometimes really hard for me to struggle through all the meals one is guilt-tripped into whenever one visits family or friends. It's like we're eating ALL the time! There's tea-breakfast-'something' at 11-early lunch-snack-tea with snacks-"oh taste what I'm preparing now!"-dinner! Whatever happened to 3 meals a day?! While travelling, I see most families munching away at something or the other even while visiting monuments. Just look at our travelogs here on the forum- the first question after route will always be 'any good food options on the way?' And the description after will always have several snaps of the food! This I think is one of the main contributing factors to our being unfit.

Apart from that, there was always the mentality that 'sports' was an extracurricular, something one did as a kid for an hour a day and stopped doing when one grew up and focused on more 'adult' pursuits. Which is why a lot of us from that generation (me included) are taking up sports after their 20s and seeing more fitness gains in our 30s and 40s. Hopefully that's changing and we'll see more generations growing up with sports integrated as a part of their day. Having said that though, the number of obese kids I see these days is certainly higher than I did in my childhood. Also, a lot of the guys who I knew played a lot of sports in school and college now get their 'sports' by watching EPL on tv and buying Man U t-shirts! So really can't say what the trend will be.

Finally, there are still not many everyday female role models for girls to get thinking about sports. I'm not talking about the Saina Nehwals or the Harmanpreet Kaurs. You have a higher chance of taking up an active lifestyle if you see your relatives or friends participating in such a lifestyle. In Bangalore, outside of running, I don't really see too many women participants in any amateur athletic activities.
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Old 11th December 2018, 12:36   #19
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Default Re: Why are Indians so unfit?

Ma's perennial complaint is I eat too less and work too much.

'You had such an appetite, why are you starving yourself now?'

Immaterial that I'm the same weight as I was in college, (+/- a couple kilos), and fit into clothes I've kept from back then is dismissed with a flourish of the ladle as she plonks another helping on my plate, and Dad nods in agreement.

I don't blame them. They didn't have to change their diet drastically because they didn't have to change their lifestyles drastically either. As a kid, I barely spent any time inside the house except to eat and sleep, but I now have to find ways to exert myself physically.

Cricket on weekends (proper cricket, not the gully variety where you barely move all game and probably munch a few snacks while at it) and badminton a few times a week, plus a penchant for walking keep me from hibernating, but it's a constant struggle to remind oneself to keep moving on a day-to-day basis, because the lure of staying still is ever-present.

Your diet needs to fit your present lifestyle, not your mother's fond remembrances, lovely sentiment as it may be.

P.S. Don't intend to swing a broad brush, but only a portion of the gym-going crowd is serious about fitness. Plenty only do it as a fad. I have colleagues who eat their gym-delivered lunch salad (fancy branded packing and all the jazz), then march their butt (pun intended) straight to the smoking zone. Fat load of good it will do.

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Old 11th December 2018, 12:52   #20
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Default Re: Why are Indians so unfit?

A very interesting observation. I think a lot of us ruminate on such thoughts while in the airport. Seriously, there is a dearth of fit people. Having said that, i feel this is changing in India. I see a lot of youngsters and teens now more fitter than ever and engaging in both fitness regimes and sports. People are now hiring courts for badminton, football and such sports. People have also become cognizant of good food habits and poor food habits

Some thoughts

1. Food Choices - We have been inundated with choices of low calorie food, protein supplements etc. We have lost focus on natural occurring food and food choices. Simple things such as eating seasonal vegetables and fruits have been replaced with canned vegetables and fruits. Secondly, sweets were relegated to specific festivals and ceremonies which occurred let us say on 12 days in a year. Now, sweets are available 24/7 - 365 days a year. Again with open procurement, we now see a lot of processed foods coming into market from international destinations and local firms copying the same. Seriously, Maggi minted money with college goers and managed to put some weight for them as well. Also local produces are much better than international foods - our bodies and our genes are tuned to this

2. Daily Routine Choices - Our routines have changed. TV/Cable/Internet now puts media 24/7 and we end up spending time late in the night watching them forgoing our sleep. Secondly, we also started using motorized vehicle for the smallest of transportation requirements. I know a lot of my neighbours use their Honda Activas and scooters for a 1km grocery shopping. When i was in Chicago, the nearest grocery store was about a mile away and i ended up walking there almost everyday. My office was a mile away and i walked daily.

3. Work Habits - Our work habits have also changed. With IT/BPO ruling the roost in India, people have tuned themselves to working late nights or night shifts and eating at odd hours. We might not be able to change it much, but then again what stops us from taking the right approach for fitness

Fitness does not mean going to the gym. A brisk walk of 30 minutes a day, sitting on the floor a couple of times a day, sleeping on time and taking those much needed recharge time should help us get fitter. At 46, i can happily run 10k and climb 12 floors without my bones creaking or leaving me gasping and i have not stepped into a gym till date.

Last edited by subraiyr : 11th December 2018 at 13:04. Reason: Did not complete the post and the mouse got depressed by mistake
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Old 11th December 2018, 13:53   #21
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Default Re: Why are Indians so unfit?

A very interesting, but also depressing, website when it comes to obesity the world over. Have a look at this map.

This is data from a few years ago. Part of the problem here is also that it is difficult to get good enough data per country. E. On India only adults are taken into consideration. Still, India isn’t doing to badly! You are giving countries such as the USA, UK and Australia a run for their money!

I do believe there are some cultural aspects to this as well. In certain cultures being let us call it "well fed" is considered a sign of prosperity.

In many western type of countries the opposite tends to be true, as pointed out by some other members. It tends to be the less fortunate of society who become obese. They have less education, less money to spend on food etc.

If I take Kansas City where we lived for over three years as an example. There were no obese people in the well to do areas such as Leewood or Overland Park. All very well to do families, everybody well educated, good jobs, jogging and eating healthy.

But you go east of Troost Avenue you end up in the black communities. Obesity is rampant across just about all age.

My wife worked at Troost Elementary. An all black primary school. It was sad to see just about all these kids being overweight at a very young age.


Last edited by Jeroen : 11th December 2018 at 13:59.
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Old 11th December 2018, 13:57   #22
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Default Re: Why are Indians so unfit?

पढोगे लिखोगे तो बनोगे नवाब
खेलोगे कूदोगे तो होंगे ख़राब

I still remember these two lines that were prevalent during my childhood days (80s).
Speaks volume about the attitude of the people then.

Actually the people from past generations did not "need" exercise - simply because we had more manual work (yeah we used to walk a lot, carry bags etc), less junk food (in fact less food and less frequent in general), more family time, less stress, greater percentage of people less ambitious and willing to put everything at stake for financial success, etc.

But today's generation does require it.

People used to walk earlier. Walk to market, walk to neighbors, walk from bus stop to home. Today everyone uses cars, bikes, etc. People used to lift and carry their own stuff - suitcases, bags, household items. Today it is looked down upon that you can't get someone else to do the physical work for you!

From the crude, long preparation un-refined food laden with desi ghee - where sweets were meant for rare occasion (mostly because of price and incomes), we have moved to fast moving and instant foods laden with refined flours, and sweet temptations are available everywhere - and everyone earns enough to buy all this crap.

Yesterday's generation never had a peer pressure to "party all night", drink to appear cool, consume junk food because it is the yo thing or the latest fad.


NOW moving over to the "westerners". As few people have rightly identified - the developed world is polarized: the fit (small percent) and the extremely unfit (most of the population). Most of the Indians are on the path to the extremely unfit stage that the developed world is ALREADY at.

In addition, the developed world is more vain and concerned with the looks department - so beware a "fit" looking muscular and young body may actually be taking fortnightly shots of sustanon/enanthate and regular injections of botox.

Last edited by alpha1 : 11th December 2018 at 14:00.
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Old 11th December 2018, 14:33   #23
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Default Re: Why are Indians so unfit?

I am confused. What is with equating Nonveg to being unfit?
Indians mostly eat Chicken, Fish and Mutton as non veg and none of these are fattening. On the contrary, it is our over indulgence on carbs like rice, wheat, potatoes etc and sweets combined with the inactivity that has come along with growing affluence which has caused this epidemic (if I can call it so!!).
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Old 11th December 2018, 15:32   #24
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Default Re: Why are Indians so unfit?

Originally Posted by vibbs View Post
I am confused. What is with equating Nonveg to being unfit?
Yes, there is a profound confusion about that among general public.

Two years ago, when I switched into LCHF, most of my relatives were very confused. I showed up at a family function, and everybody was amazed that I had lost 8kgs in 3 months of diet. Then they looked at my loaded plate and assumed I was cheating that day. I only had eggs, chicken, mutton, fish on my plate. Nobody would buy that I was actually following the diet with all that on my plate. They figured that diet was eating tasteless things, and keeping away from non-veg. One uncle asked me how can I be eating non-veg and fatty food if I am dieting. My attempt to differentiate between protein, carbs and edible fat fell to deaf ears. They were incredulous when I told them it is the rice part of biryani that makes people fat, not the meat part.
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Old 11th December 2018, 17:00   #25
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Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
My attempt to differentiate between protein, carbs and edible fat fell to deaf ears. They were incredulous when I told them it is the rice part of biryani that makes people fat, not the meat part.
Same experience here. I hear more than my share of "I have been eating lot of non-veg recently and my weight is going up" rants. And every time, when I try to explain them the weight is not going up due to the non-veg that they eat, but due to the accompaniment of biriyani, rice and parottas that go along the non-veg, people give me that "this guy is insane" look, and I beat a retreat!
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Old 11th December 2018, 18:37   #26
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Default Re: Why are Indians so unfit?

Not just Indians, this is a global pandemic. Many reasons associated with it that we can easily relate to -

1) Over-eating : Be it carbs, proteins or whatever. Overeating is a direct cause of bad-health and obesity. It is aided by that fact that many of our meals are taken over the distraction of a TV/movie/smartphone/etc. When the mind is not focused on the task, it's at times hard to get the signal when the stomach's full and over-indulge oneself.

2) Sugars, simple(-er) carbs, and processed junk food - Topic's been beaten to death nothing much else need saying.

3) Lack of physical activity/exercise - How many people do we see heading for the stairs over the elevator? In my earlier apartment complex, I used to live on the 8th floor. 20% of the times I walked down but 90% of times I did walk up!

Most times, I think, just simple everyday things done with some introspection and deliberate choices are more than enough for one to be healthy. Hitting the gym may be totally unnecessary (in many cases).
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Old 12th December 2018, 08:15   #27
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Default Re: Why are Indians so unfit?

Indians too fall into 2 extremes these days, much like those in the western world, the first extreme is those who don't worship their body, care little for health and have a "let's see when it happens, who knows I may be lucky attitude".. I fall into that extreme. I do smoke, I'm not very active other than doing the absolute essentials.. sure that does involve a km or two of walking around, climbing stairs etc but generally I'm lazy. I'm far from overweight though and my physique is very much the same as a decade and a half ago when I was more of an athlete playing college basketball and doing very rigorous warm-ups like suicide drills, laps around the court and jump-squats. My diet is vegetarian and perhaps that's why I maintain weight more easily despite the large intake of sugary drinks and smoking I do (my only vices, no alcohol). As far as general heart risks go, at this rate I will be a prime candidate (synthetic sugar+smoking) but hey, I live on the so called edge and don't care as of now.

The other extreme is almost everyone I know.. including one very irritating "friend" who'd wax lyrical about the minutiae of fitness like diet, stretching, cooking the food just right so that it doesn't carbonize, moderate consumption of alcohol in a way that it is advantageous to health.. man we've been friends for donkey's years but this change in him makes me want to punch him in the face lol. And then there are these numerous fitness centers open today which uses calisthenics, obstacle courses, parkour etc etc with most of their students coming with braids, blonde highlights, eye piercings, tattoos, skin-tight leotards.. for a moment there I thought I'm in a back-alley gym in New York.

The trick is to moderate these two extremes.. fitness freaks can do what they do without looking down at the regular people and the regular people should try to GOYA (get off your rear end) and walk, maybe jog a bit and do house chores that are not only great exercise but also improve your living environment.
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Old 12th December 2018, 09:57   #28
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Default Re: Why are Indians so unfit?

Agree happily with Miyata and dark.knight above. Ultimately weight is a function also of each person's DNA. The same food & exercise can lead to different weights or BMI for individuals. Our focus should be to be healthy rather than focus on weight. If the aim is health then the body's innate wisdom gently glides you to your weight. I cannot claim to be a paragon of fitness but one thing I did do was to consciously reduce my intake at each meal over the years. The 3 to 4 rotis in the 20s went to two at 40 and now to one or zero - same for all other items. But I eat everything including dessert. My weight is unchanged since year 2000.

Last edited by V.Narayan : 12th December 2018 at 10:01.
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Old 12th December 2018, 11:02   #29
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Originally Posted by dark.knight View Post
My diet is vegetarian and perhaps that's why I maintain weight more easily despite the large intake of sugary drinks and smoking I do (my only vices, no alcohol).
I see you too have bought into the myth that non-veg food causes weight increase. We were just discussing that few posts ago. Japanese are traditionally non-veg, but you will rarely find a fat Japanese unless they are Sumo wrestlers.

Originally Posted by dark.knight View Post
The other extreme is almost everyone I know.. including one very irritating "friend" who'd wax lyrical about the minutiae of fitness like diet, stretching, cooking the food just right so that it doesn't carbonize, moderate consumption of alcohol in a way that it is advantageous to health.. man we've been friends for donkey's years but this change in him makes me want to punch him in the face lol.
I can understand this very well. Although I have been a fitness freak since 34 years, I hadn't witnessed this in-your-face show-off about workout/fitness didn't start until this decade, and I think it mainly happened because of social media and smartphones. Many of the people I know, who were sedentary until they hit 40, suddenly discovered marathon/gym/protein-shakes etc. Then they flood the FB feed of their friends with their running/gyming photos. For me working out has always been a private affair, not something to show off. So I find this social media fitness frenzy really odd. In fact, my wife who never used to do any exercise, bought a fitbit and started walking because her schoolmates whatsapp group started having fitbit battles, and she didn't want to be left out.
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Old 12th December 2018, 14:03   #30
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Default Re: Why are Indians so unfit?

Somebody did make a point on fitness being a habit.

I had a very similar thought some days back. We as a nation have never had any 'fit' habits. However, we do have a lot of habits we follow religiously. And most of them are based on religion.

So would marrying religion and fitness be a good idea? I think so!

Therefore, this post!
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