I am writing this open letter to you in light of a matter of profound significance.
Most news papers have just now published probably the most telling health-benefit news of the day, may be of the year. The largest scientific study of physical activity of over 130,000 persons in 17 countries including four low-income countries (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Zimbabwe) published in The Lancet concluded that globally, 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week could prevent one in 12 deaths due to cardiac diseases. The evidence to this fact is unassailable.
If you could induce our compatriots to do 30 minutes physical activity 5 days a week we could prevent one in 12 cardiac deaths. This will have the greatest social and beneficial health impact in the country. Carrying out regular physical activity is the cheapest and most universally affordable measure to prevent substantial number of cardiac deaths.
Let the initiation of a dedicated “daily physical activity” routine by people be the topic of discussion in one of your forthcoming Mann Ki Baat program. Let us make it an apolitical activity by inviting all political parties, NGOs, students and the media to join it as national movement.
You have already taken many profound, nation-wide, measures vital for the health and well-being of our people. Encouraging Yoga, cleanliness and sanitation drives among others,
The following chilling facts from the review article titled “Cardiovascular Diseases in India Current Epidemiology and Future Directions” in CIRCULATION (2016;133:1605-1620) aptly highlights the reason why you must take the lead in popularizing the daily physical activity program.
- “Cardio Vascular Disease (CVD) is no longer a disease of the rich; it equally impacts the poor, with a higher CVD mortality among men of lower socioeconomic status.”
- “The early occurrence of CVD in Indians and the high case fatality attributable to CVD is ominous and merits special attention”.
- “In comparison with the people of European ancestry, Cardio Vascular Disease (CVD) affects Indians at least a decade earlier and in their most productive midlife years.”
- “…in Western populations only 23% of CVD deaths occur before the age of 70 years; in India, this number is 52%.”
- ” The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that, with the current burden of CVD, India would lose $237 billion from the loss of productivity and spending on health care over a 10-year period (2005–2015).”
The gruesome impact of the death of a breadwinner or a young mother at the prime of his or her life on their children and others is indescribable
Other conclusions from the study
The study also found that we could prevent 5% of cardiovascular diseases if we carried out physical activity of 150mins per week. The type of activity did not matter-it could be going to the gym, walking to work, or household chores. Regular Physical activity is the cheapest method to prevent heart disease.
“Being highly active(750mins a week) is associated with an even greater reduction, and the authors found that this was more achievable for those who built physical activity in to their day through active transport, job type, or house work ” a press release from the journal said.
“The study confirms on a global scale that physical activity is associated with a lower risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease (including death from cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke, or heart failure), irrespective of a person’s home country, other risk factors for disease, the type of physical activity and whether the activity is for leisure or if it is taken as part of daily transport, at work, or housework,” the release added.
Earlier studies of this type addressed the physical activity of people in high-income groups. Interestingly, we might consider the present study as global as it covered three high income countries (Canada, Sweden, United Arab Emirates); seven upper-middle-income countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Poland, Turkey, Malaysia, South Africa); three lower middle-income countries (China, Colombia, Iran); and four low-income-countries (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Zimbabwe).
In 2010, after a detailed review, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended levels of physical activity for three age groups -5 -17 years old; 18-64 years old and 65 years old and above.
The WHO recommended that the adults aged 18-64 years, should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, as well as muscle strengthening exercises at least two days a week.
The researchers stated that 23% of the world’s population is not meeting the physical activity guidelines.
“Meeting physical activity guidelines by walking for as little as 30 minutes most days of the week has a substantial benefit, and higher physical activity is associated with even lower risks,” the press release from the journal quoted the lead author Dr Scott Lear, Professor of Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Pfizer/Heart & Stroke Foundation Chair in Cardiovascular Prevention Research at St. Paul’s Hospital in Canada.
“The affordability of other cardiovascular disease interventions, such as generic drugs and consuming fruits and vegetables, are often beyond the reach of many people in low-income and middle-income countries. However, physical activity represents a low cost approach to preventing cardiovascular disease, and our study provides robust evidence to support public health interventions to increase all forms of physical activity in these regions.” he clarified.
When the study began, each participant gave information on their socioeconomic status, lifestyle behaviours, medical history, family history of cardiovascular disease, weight, height, waist and hip measurements, and blood pressure. They answered questions on physical activity they completed over a typical week.
The participants met the research team for follow up at least once every three years to record information on cardiovascular disease and death for 6.9 years. The team estimated the rates of cardiovascular events (including death from cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke, or heart failure) and deaths.
Of the 106,970 people who met the activity guidelines, 3.8% developed cardiovascular disease, compared to 5.1% of people who did not.
People who did not meet the recommended amount of activity had higher risk of deaths – 6.4% compared to 4.2% for people who met guidelines.
The results suggest that, if the whole study population met the physical activity guidelines, 8% of deaths and 4.6% of cardiovascular disease cases could be prevented. In addition, if the entire population was highly active (completing more than 750 minutes of physical activity a week), 13% of deaths and 9.5% of cardiovascular disease cases could be prevented.
“The clear-cut results reinforce the message that exercise truly is the best medicine at our disposal for reducing the odds of an early death, If a drug company came up with a medicine as effective as exercise, they would have a billion-dollar blockbuster on their hands and a Nobel prize in the post.” The New Scientist journal quoted James Rudd, senior lecturer in cardiovascular medicine, at the University of Cambridge