Questioning the physical fitness of techies
Lifestyles of IT professionals generally tend to be hectic, challenging, full of stress, at times fun... and almost always sedentary. The issue of sedentary lifestyles and the question of physical fitness among techies were highlighted with a flash mob by a 100-strong group of young employees of TCS. They danced up a storm with popular numbers in a 10-minute routine that culminated with them unfurling banners and marching with placards that urged one and all to live a healthy life. Perhaps the most poignant part of the show was the finale where two of the dancers mimed popular sport such as basketball, badminton, cricket, tennis, and football in a bid to drive home the importance of physical fitness.
Says Naveen Kumar, one of the dancers: “Physical fitness is a pertinent issue among techies because most of us spend our time sitting in a chair, hunched in front of our computers. Often we ignore our health and forget about the need for physical exercise.” He adds that he makes a “conscious effort” to work out on a routine basis. “We wanted to show that it is fairly easy to involve yourself in some kind of physical activity. All it takes to lead a healthy lifestyle is a bit of effort,” add Gowreesha Nookala and Aniruddh Naraparaju, two of the lead dancers in the show. All three of them say they keep fit by playing badminton (at Technopark Club) on a regular basis.
Sharing the opinion of these sprightly youngsters is 35-year-old techie Anna Jose, who has been in the IT field for around 13 years now. She is one of the few fitness junkies at Technopark. “I play badminton regularly, I do Pilates, I work out at the Technopark gym, I swim… I do some kind of physical activity for an hour or more at least four times a week. I started out with the intention of getting back into shape after the birth of my second child. Now it has become a routine, something that I enjoy,” says Anna.
However, when it comes to physical fitness, techies who think on the same lines as these techies, are by the looks of it, very few. For example, according to Sasidharan Nair, the administrator of the Technopark Club, “only 200, including some 50 women out of the 40,000 plus people who work on campus use the multi-purpose gym at the club on a regular basis”. Even lesser numbers, he says, use the club’s other facilities such as its swimming pool or the badminton court. “Most of the techies I’ve talked to about the issue say that they don’t exercise simply because they can’t find the time what with their hectic work schedules. Then again, I’ve observed that if exercise or some kind of physical activity has always been a part of a person’s lifestyle choice, then they will fit it into their routine whatever the hurdle. Most of the people who work on campus are between the ages of 23 and 35, and do not seem too concerned with health issues, probably because they are at an age where they do not face too many such issues,” says Sasidharan.
It’s a fact that techies do face certain physical health issues because of their sedentary jobs. Divas Sadasivan, who works at corporate communications at IBS, is not too much into physical fitness activities. “I work out or take part in outdoor activities only once in a while simply because of the paucity of time. Speaking from practical experience, the main physical health problems that we techies face are issues related to our eyes, neck and spine. Sadly, as it often happens, it often takes some dilapidating pain for us to realise its extent. Even if exercise is not part of my daily routine, I take the effort to maintain my health. For instance, every couple of hours or so I make it a point to get up from my desk and walk around and/or stretch my arms and legs. I do that three or four times a day. I also make it a point to eat healthy and balance my meals. It’s these little things that count.”
Of course, most companies across Technopark have health, wellness and physical fitness initiatives in place, which, are to a point, successful. However, as always, it’s the individual effort that triumphs.