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Home / Fitness / Food and sleep are as important as exercise, says Saina Nehwal

Food and sleep are as important as exercise, says Saina Nehwal

Check out how India’s star badminton player stays on top of her game.

fitness Updated: Aug 04, 2019, 06:56 IST
Pooja Bhula
Pooja Bhula
Hindustan Times
(HT Photo)

Saina Nehwal, 29, is India’s first woman singles player to be ranked world number one in badminton. The only Indian to attain this rank before her was Prakash Padukone. Despite a serious knee injury in 2016, Nehwal stormed back onto the courts, and continues to demolish opponents. As she readies for the Thailand Open, here’s a look at how she stays on top of her game.

For me fitness is about having free movements during matches, and accruing no ailments. In my teens and even up to last year, I never worried about how much I exercised. I enjoyed it all – outdoor exercises, indoor workouts, weightlifting etc. But now I am more focused on what’s essential for my sport. I have reduced my running, for instance.

I work out six days a week, following a schedule prepared by my coach to suit my body’s requirements. A typical workout includes running, weightlifting, cardio and training of the muscles in the arms and legs in the morning. I also have court practice, in the evenings. I actually prefer working out in the evenings.

Food and sleep are as vital as exercise. Controlling the quality of your food becomes especially important as you exit your 20s. I generally have cereals, pulses, some non-veg, curd, seasonal fruits and salads every day. I observe a complete ban on unhealthy oils, and avoid sugar, sweets, fatty and fried foods as much as I can.

Given my routine, I need at least six to eight hours of shut-eye a day. I’m usually in bed by 11 and awake at 6.

The speed of your game slows a little as you near 30, or have an injury. At such times, it is your appetite to perform that helps you improve. You should generate the intent to win within yourself; that’s what will persuade you to work harder and better than others.

In the end, I believe that one should do whatever exercises one wants to do, but with dedication and sincerity.

(As told to Pooja Bhula)

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