Significance of Physical Fitness for Financial Fitness

Get Back 2 Fitness


The Economic impact of Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) on household in India’, the first nationally representative study in India on health spending associated with NCDs was published in 2012 in Globalization and Health. This study by Engelgau et al. came out with some startling data that is in alignment with my thought process. By 2004, the out of pocket health expenses for treating NCDs already accounted for 47.3 percent. About 40-50% of these expenditures are financed by household borrowing and sales of assets. The odds of incurring catastrophic hospitalization expenditures were nearly 160% higher with cancer, 30% greater for CVD or injuries than when hospitalization is due to a communicable disease.

A substantial proportion of expenditures are for medications, diagnostics and medical appliances. As much as these expenses are in private health sector because of public sector not being prepared to handle this workload and health insurance programs that need to cover them, we need to look at the grass-root solution. Being physically active, eating well and sleeping well help to reduce mortality by NCDs by more than half. It doesn’t simply improve quality of life but reduce the financial fitness burden on everyone around.

Its for nothing that sitting is called the new smoking. It is because physical inactivity is the fourth largest killer. We humans simply weren’t made to be stationary. We were made to move. As a matter of fact, as sperms we moved, rather ran to be born.

It was only 500 years ago that the masses started using chairs, up until then benches and stools were used in everyday living. With the Industrial Revolution a mere 260 years ago, human beings took the sedentary lifestyle to a whole new level. Computers have only been around for the last fifty years, as a middle class household gadget for less than half that time (25 years), but they have changed things way too quickly. In addition to that, the way we travel (cars) and eat (fast food) today has changed our lives for the worse. Half the patients I see today are in their sad painful conditions because of what has happened at the turn of this millennium, so called smartphones and tablets. This jet-set modern lifestyle is the primary cause for far higher rates of NCDs.

And then you have back pain.

If cancer is called the ‘emperor of all maladies’, back pain might as well be the empress. Back pain might not kill, but it doesn’t let one live either. It’s like being madly in love with someone but not being able to be with that person. It leads to a miserable life.

The societal cost of back pain is three times higher than the total cost of all types of cancers. That holds true for India too. Back pain takes its toll not only on the individual suffering from it, but also on the family, workplace and society.

To add to that, it’s not an individual who suffers with back pain, it’s the whole society. All of us are responsible for causing it and we all need to get pro-actively involved if we want to reduce it’s impact on the society. There is no one big magical trick to fix but multiple small triggers and weaknesses that we need to address.

Pain in the back and neck is by far the number one reason for Indians (and others too, worldwide) for the ‘years of life lived with disability’.  Lower back pain affects up to 80 per cent of people at some point in their life, and neck pain affects up to 50 per cent of the population.  As mentioned earlier, these numbers have risen tremendously in the last two decades courtesy drastic changes in our lifestyles.

Dr. Rajat Chauhan is MBBS, MSc Sports – Exercise Medicine (Nottingham), MLCOM: Osteopathic Medicine (London). He is running a Sports-Medicine & Muscuklo-Skeletal Medicine clinic for last 8 years in Sheikh Sarai, New Delhi. He is associated with Adidas India as Running Advisor. His book on Pain is published by Penguin Publications, The Handbook of Pain can be glimpsed on