Walk to health

Increased obesity and other diseases related to irregular eating habits and a sedentry lifestyle is making many women and men to take a morning walk. The good part is many more are doing it to stay fit and healthy. Aliya Bashir reports.

Wearing traditional Kameez shalwar, scarf and running shoes, 32-year-old Anjum reaches the park of historic Jamia Masjid in old city at 6:30 am. She takes a brisk walk, with her legs gaining momentum with each step. Taking deep breaths and moving her arms in the arm, her movements get synchronised.

“I feel like an energy ball. Like superman I want to just take off. When I started jogging four months back, I had never imagined jogging could be so much fun,” says Anjum, a teacher. “I have tried almost everything to get rid of obesity but nothing worked. Jogging is showing some positive results.”

As she jogs for about 20 minutes, beads of sweat trickle down her face. She is gasping for breath but her enthusiasm keeps her going. After another 15 minutes she is exhausted and takes a little rest before leaving for home.

As the dawn breaks, a lot of obese and some health conscious, women, girls and young children come to the Jamia Park for a morning walk or jogging.
38-year-old Daisy, of Down town Srinagar sees a morning walk as a ‘rewarding recreation’. In Srinagar city most health conscious women prefer jogging or a morning walk over a gym or a health club.

“As I jog, the worries and anxieties vanish away. The delight of morning walk is enough to make my day besides the health benefits are awesome,” says Daisy who has been going for a morning walk for the last one year, to rein in her waistline.

People can be seen taking morning walks, and jogging, even on roads in Srinagar as the traffic is very thin in the morning with air free of dust and smoke.
Hundreds of women of different age groups can be seen taking a morning walk on different streets in Srinagar. Some walk in groups but almost all of them have their faces covered or are wearing a burqa (veil). Very few walk daringly.

Getting up early every morning, Ishrat offers prayers and quickly makes tea before going out for a stroll. During the morning walk she keeps her face covered with a dupatta.

“Our’s is a conservative family and I don’t want to be seen around and talked about,” she said.

As Ishrat took a brief pause on a roadside parapet, she said, “My mother-in-law always taunts me saying I should eat less and then I wouldn’t need to go for a walk. I am diabetic and also have thyroid and blood pressure problems. My doctor had advised me to go for the morning walk.” She got up to walk another mile and waved at me with an infectious smile.

The sky up above appeared as a collage with small clouds dotting the canvass. Near Munwarabad in old city two women in their mid- thirties were out on a morning walk wearing pherans and white sneakers. They were discussing family matters.

“The morning walk gives some respite from household chores,” they said.  Many women, however, mix their morning exercise with a bit of faith by visiting various shrines dotting the old city.

“It (going to a shrine) is also a good excuse for a morning walk,” said a woman in her fourties, who did not give her name.

Many women come from far off places in their own vehicles for a morning walk at the Makhdoom Sahab Shrine. “Obesity is a curse and this sacred place has been a blessing for conservative women like me who don’t like to jog on roads. It’s just like being at ones home,” says Khateeja Begum, 40, who has come from Habba Kadal in old city. Her young daughter, Ruqaiya, accompanied her.

“Morning walks are so pleasant and give me a sort of serenity,” says Ruqaiya. “I don’t have any health problem but it helps to stay fit besides I feel energetic throughout the day.”

It is good to see that more and more women are concerned about their health and woke up early for a walk in the morning both at parks and on roads, while some prefer shrines.

Specialists say that women who take a morning walk or jog each day have healthier hearts and live longer than the people who don’t do any exercise.
“Women can improve their heath and stay in good shape by taking morning walks and it does not cost a thing,” Ruqaiya said.

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