Move Move and Move: IMA Campaign to control NCDs

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Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are a major cause of premature and preventable deaths worldwide. According to a WHO Global Survey Report “Assessing National Capacity for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases Global Survey 2015”, NCDs currently account for almost 70% of global deaths; majority of which occur in low- and middle-income countries. India too is not untouched by this. Due to rapid urbanization, India is experiencing an epidemiological transition moving away from a predominantly communicable or infectious to a predominantly non communicable disease pattern.

Along with tobacco, harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diet, physical inactivity has been implicated in NCDs as a major risk factor. All these are behavioral risk factors and are modifiable through lifestyle changes. Modern and advanced technology has certainly made life easy and convenient for us – online shopping, online payments, accessing information, etc., all of which can be done from the comfort of our homes. But, has technology really made our life better? What it has also done is change our lifestyle pattern at the cost of health; we are less physically active now – sitting at a desk for a long time working on the computer, using social media on smartphones, watching TV or sitting in a meeting, all these activities promote sedentary behavior.

The benefits of exercise on physical health as well as mental health are well-established and know to us all. But, the level of physical activity among all age groups has decreased, either due to lack of initiative or lack of safe open spaces. A heavy work schedule is often a deterrent to physical activity for many of us.
Walking is the best form of exercise, which requires no investment, no special training. Walking in natural environments such as parks also reduces mental stress and fatigue and improve mood via the release of the ‘feel good’ endorphins. This proximity to nature also helps in the inward spiritual journey and shifts one from the sympathetic to parasympathetic mode manifested by lowering of blood pressure and pulse rate. This is also why most of our temples are located in distant places. The silence of the spiritual atmosphere reduces the internal noise and helps us onward in our inner journey.

It is important to remember here that ‘exercise’ is not synonymous with ‘physical activity’. Exercise is a planned, structured and repetitive activity while any other physical activity that is done during leisure time, for transport to get to and from places, or as part of a person’s work, also has a health benefit (WHO Fact Sheet, February 2017).
To control non-communicable diseases and promote physical activity, IMA has proposed a campaign “Move Move and Move”. People should move around more often all through the day in addition to regular exercise. Here are a few simple ways to increase physical activity both at home and your workplace.

• Take the stairs as often as possible.
• Get off the bus one stop early and walk the rest of the way.
• Have “walk-meetings” instead of “sit-in” meetings.
• Walk to the nearby shops instead of driving.
• Stand up and walk while talking on the phone.
• Walk down to speak to your colleague instead of using the intercom/phone.
• Walk around your building for a break during the work day or during lunch.
• Buy a pedometer.

Walk 80 minutes each day; brisk walk 80 minutes a week with a speed of 80 steps per minute. This is a ‘Formula of 80’ that I have devised and which I recommend to all my patients.