Can running help control blood pressure and cholesterol? Yes, say Lucknow's Amartya and Nutan Sinha, who went from being 'unhealthy foodies' to prize-winning marathon runners.
For Amartya Sinha (50) and his wife, Nutan Sinha (46), residents of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, the internet was their fitness coach, and having each other’s company was all the support and motivation they needed.
It was a routine blood check-up for Amartya in 2018 that led the duo to start working out.
“I was an unhealthy ‘foodie’. I ate a lot of fried food and weighed over 100 kilos. However, after a blood test, the doctor pointed out that my blood pressure was too high. He suggested that I take medicines to keep it in control. But, I did not want to depend on medication, so I requested him to suggest a natural alternative,” says Amartya, who runs an IT firm.
To support her husband, Nutan also decided to exercise with him regularly. From then on, there was no turning back.
What started as small 500 m jogs has now turned into 50 km Ultrarunner marathons.
Sticking To A Routine
In July 2018, when Amartya started his journey to lose weight and become healthy, he weighed 104 kilos. The next day, after he was diagnosed with high cholesterol and high blood pressure, the couple took a stroll in the nearby park.
“Initially, I would casually walk around the park in the evenings. In the following days, I watched videos on YouTube and began doing some stretching exercises. Eventually, I tried running around the park, on the road, but could never cross 500 meters. Apart from this, I found it difficult to keep up with my exercise routine regularly. Since I was exercising in the evenings, if there was extra work in the office, or if I was meeting my friends after office, I would skip my workout,” says Amartya.
That is when he approached a few senior runners to get some advice. They all suggested the same — workout in the morning, if you want to make it a routine. So, the couple made a workout chart for themselves and began their practice at 5.30 am.
“I had to cook breakfast for my 23-year-old son who would leave for college at 8.30 am. So, I would wake up an hour before my workout to do the preparations,” says Nutan.
Three months of constant motivation and support from each helped the couple stick to a routine, and Amartya even started to lose weight. Nutan says that the workouts helped her stay active throughout the day.
From running around the park, the couple started to run longer distances of up to 10 km and, eventually, they started following a cross fitness training method to improve their endurance. This included alternating between running, strength training, yoga, cycling and more.
“Doing this helped us improve our stamina and even gave us the confidence to participate in our first marathon,” says Amartya.
Running The Distance
In October 2018, the couple participated in their first competitive marathon in Lucknow. They ran the 10 km race, where Nutan placed first in her age category.
“I completed the race in a decent time but needed to practise more. And even though I did not win a podium place, the biggest victory was that I did my first run,” says Amartya.
Following this, the couple continued working out on their own and following workout regimes they found on YouTube. They even made a switch on their diets and stopped consuming food cooked in refined oil, all purpose flour, and deep-fried items.
“We also ensure to eat before 8.30 pm so that our digestive systems wouldn’t affect our morning run,” says Amartya, adding that their daily routine consisted of two hours of workout in the morning.
In 2019, they participated in more marathons which were 42 km or 21 km. Today, Nutan is a long distance runner and the brand ambassador for marathons organised in Lucknow. Amartya now weighs 84 kilos and is an ultrarunner, which means he participates in 50 km runs.
“I no longer have high blood pressure or sugar, and I am also the recipient of a PROCAM-SLAM medal. This is awarded to participants who have run 10, 21, 25, and 42 km races across four cities in the country — Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, within a stipulated time,” says Amartya.
The couple have completed over five marathons within three years, and have also participated in-stadium runs. Here, contestants run for six hours, with breaks, and the ones who have covered the most distance in this time are considered winners.
“In one such race, Nutan completed 46kms while I completed only 38kms,” says Amartya, adding that his wife will always be a better athlete than him.
Tips to Begin Your Fitness Journey
Through their website — Runbaaz, the couple now share their fitness knowledge with others who are starting their fitness journey.
Here are some quick tips from Amartya and Nutan for beginners:
1. Always do your workouts in the morning.
2. Invest in a pedometer that tracks your progress and shows you your heart rate. Amartya says this is crucial for those above 45.
3. Wear comfortable shoes.
4. Start with short workouts but maintain consistency and regularity.
5. Work out with a group or a friend to stay consistent.
Edited by Yoshita Rao