A Feel Good mission to shake up the British Indian diaspora

A Feel Good mission to shake up the British Indian diaspora

I am determined to help get the community fitter, healthier and living longer. As a British Indian, born in London, and a mother, I’m on a personal mission to shake up the UK diaspora. I hope to help educate all ages to start changing habits about exercise and healthy eating with my free tips, workouts and advice. I really want to help reduce risks of so many chronic diseases, especially type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Figures published by You Gov in 2019 show that Asians are still less likely than the overall average population in England to be physically active. Statistics also show that men are more active than women.

Diabetes UK alarmingly reported that UK South Asians are up to six times more likely to have diabetes than the white population, and with the prevalence of diabetes predicted to increase by 47 per cent by 2025, the condition will continue to have considerable impact on South Asian communities across the UK. We also have a two-fold increased risk of heart disease compared to the general population.

Alarmingly, the risk of coronary heart disease is up to 50 per cent higher in first-generation South Asians than in the white European population in the UK. It’s worth knowing that diabetes increases your risk of CHD and of having a heart attack.

By doing more physical activity and eating well to maintain a healthy weight, one can reduce these disease risks and even reverse type 2 diabetes. However, few are actually putting this into practice and I was so alarmed by these statistics that I raised a press campaign back at start of March 2020 to urgently intervene and ‘Get UK Asians Fit’.

Could it come down to social expectations, cultural norms or religious beliefs, or are the barriers more mainstream, like cost, lack of time, confidence and motivation? Lack of role models, and climatic and geographic factors could also play a role in stifling our access to physical activity.

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I’m sure a lot of us can relate to a lot of these barriers. I lived in a traditional extended family home after getting married, I’m a working mum, and I understand the culture and social restrictions that a lot of us face. However, we must find ways to overcome these barriers to start implementing healthy and positive changes in our lives.

As we know, Asians have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and conditions like diabetes and obesity have increased risks further. I am worried about our physical and mental health now more than ever. There are so many easy free ways to start and it’s never too late!

In my next column, I will dive into my concept of “Exercise Snacking” and give you some easy, free, quick and accessible ways to start snacking! You can make realistic lifestyle changes that are sustainable in the long term and help reduce our risks of these killer chronic diseases by using exercise as medicine.

Lavina Mehta MBE is an award-winning personal trainer and wellness coach. In her regular Feel Good series with ‘iGlobal’, she shares stories from her journey into fitness, workout tips and announcements about her upcoming online sessions. She is now reigniting her pre-Covid-19 national campaign to “Get UK Asians Fit”, having grown more worried about the health within our communities after a year of the pandemic.

*More Info: Free Exercise Snacks & 21 Day Feel Good Workout Plan here on Instagram TV; Special Offers at Feel Good Facebook Community; Free Seniors Workout sessions every Friday on Zoom; and 70+ saved sessions, many translated into Gujarati, here on YouTube.

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