Prachi Shah, a 27-year-old lawyer, works 12 to 15 hours a day and always told friends that she had absolutely no time to work out. Then, four years ago, she found herself in hospital.
She had been working only six months but had spent three years before that apprenticing and studying, rushing to class at 7.30am and returning home past 11pm. It was supposed to get a little easier when she began working, but she was determined to begin her career on the right foot and impress her bosses, which meant long hours, erratic meal times and near-endless stress.
This, combined with her allergic bronchitis, saw her health begin to give way. “Health was not a priority then, work was,” she said.
Then, one night in December 2007, her chest became so congested she could barely breathe. Her father rushed her to a hospital near their home in Sion.
“Lying on the hospital bed, gasping, I realised how burnt out I was,” she said. “I paused to think about how I was mistreating my body, and what my body was trying to tell me.”
Shah still works 12 to 15 hours a day. “I am very serious about my career,” she said. But she also gets half an hour of daily exercise, six days a week. “I don’t have the time for a gym or a scheduled workout, so I walk from CST to my office at Fort and back every day,” she said.
She also takes the stairs instead of the lift to her fourth-floor residence and her third-floor office.
It’s been three years since Shah began her walking routine and she says her health has never been better.
“Walking is an aerobic activity, it helps burn calories and strengthen cardio-respiratory capacity,” said fitness expert Leena Mogre. “Climbing stairs is also good for the knees.”
Health guru Mickey Mehta says walking is a good option for those pressed for time, but recommends an additional 20 minutes of exercises such as spot marching, stomach stretches and breathing exercises in the morning.
That’s the kind of workout single mother Alpua Turakhia, 45, does — but in the evening, because her mornings are too busy.
“Mornings are best for working out,” said Mehta, “But going to a gym in the evening is better than not going at all.”
Between caring for her children, aged 15 and 21, and commuting from Andheri to Colaba, where she heads a public relations firm, Turakhia’s days are packed. But she never leaves home without her gym bag, which holds her protein shake, peanuts and gym clothes.
“My daughters call it a mini Turakhia residence,” she said, laughing.
Every evening after work, Turakhia heads to a gym near her home, where she does two hours of cardio exercises and spinning. On days when she has events planned after work, Turakhia does her workout in the morning. She has always been particular about staying fit, she said. “In our house, being busy is not an excuse to be unhealthy.”
How hard is it for a single, working mother to find two hours in the day?
“I don’t remember it ever being hard,” said Turakhia. “Once I made up my mind that this was important, the time factor seemed to work itself out. Now, my time with my girls and my time at the gym are what keep me going.”