Every Year, many fail to keep their New Year resolutions of maintaining a healthier lifestyle due to poor preparation and advice.


Maintaining a healthier lifestyle is even more relevant as Obesity, which is being severely overweight, has recently been highlighted as a major health concern in Pakistan. It is becoming a major public health problem as it is increasing in adults and children and not being recognised or accepted as an issue in society. Obesity is found to be higher in cities and in females. Some studies suggest that up-to 1/3rd of adults in Pakistan may be Obese. A major contributing factor to the obesity epidemic is physical inactivity combined with an unhealthy diet.


Adults who are physically active have a 25% reduced risk of a premature death and up to 50% reduced risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and Type II diabetes. Lack of physical activity is associated not only with obesity but includes, breathing problems, infertility, psychological problems and even some cancers. Recent research, reported that adults of South Asian origin were 3 times more likely to die from heart disease and 6 times more likely to develop Type II diabetes than the White participants.


Before starting any change in physical activity, arrange a review with your family doctor to make sure you don’t have an underlying medical problem. Here we will look at how best to start a new physical activity program once you have had clearance from an appropriate medical practitioner.


The best way of maintaining a healthier lifestyle and weight is a combination of increasing physical activity and reducing calorie intake. As long as you burn up more than your calorie intake then you will reduce your weight. To keep healthy, adults should do a minimum of 30 minutes per day of at least moderate physical activity on 5 or more days per week, whereas children need to do at least an hour a day.


What is ‘moderate physical activity’? It’s movement that results in:
An increase in breathing rate.
An increase in heart rate, where the pulse can be easily felt
A feeling of increased warmth, possibly accompanied by sweating on hot or humid days.

You can do all 30 minutes at once or in separate sessions throughout the day, e.g. 3 x 10 minute brisk walks. If however you wish to lose weight then you should exercise a total of 60 to 90 minutes per day. If you haven’t done any regular physical activity for a while then it is best to start slow and gradually increase duration. Stop if you are becoming severely short of breath or getting any pains and seek medical advice. Make the physical activity fun by participating in local community outings, group activities or team sports.

Dietary advice is always difficult because of individual preference for food types and taste but below are some simple rules to follow which can help lead a healthier lifestyle:

– Try and have 3-4 small meals spread throughout the day
– Don’t miss breakfast
– Avoid Fizzy or Sugary drinks – Stick to low calories flavoured water or sugar free water
– Have minimal carbohydrate intake in the dinner meal
– Do not snack after dinner
– Stick to wholemeal sources of past and bread
– Avoid crisps, white bread, white potato and white pasta
– Try and reduce your sugar intake


If, after reading these guidelines you have any questions concerning physical activity/exercise related health issues please forward to me and I will do my best to answer them in further issues.


Dr Zafar Iqbal
Consultant in Sports and Exercise Medicine
Head of Sports Medicine Crystal Palace FC
Medical Adviser to Peshawar Zalmi


The information provided by Dr Zafar Iqbal is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before starting any new treatment or making any changes to existing treatment.

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