Why South Asians Still Aren’t Working Out Enough

Despite health risks and fit celebrities, the community gets significantly less exercise than the recommended amount. What gives?

GettyImages-1066121572 woman running

Sanchita Kedia


December 6, 2023


9 min

Minakshi Dhanvada, 36, grew up an active kid in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. She competitively ran track and even broke the state record for hurdles. However, after entering the workforce in her early 20s, she stopped exercising regularly. When she immigrated to the U.S. in 2016, she had a wake-up call — people thrice her age were active in Colorado while she struggled to climb up the stairs.

Regular physical activity improves brain health, reduces the risk of metabolic and infectious diseases, and strengthens bones and muscles. However, only 34% of South Asian Canadians — the lowest of any ethnic group — and about 40% of South Asians are active. South Asians are also less active than those of European descent, even though they must engage in almost double the recommended amount of physical activity to reap the same health benefits. 

South Asians today are constantly bombarded with images of super-fit celebrities — from Deepika Padukone to Raymond Ablack to the never-aging Shah Rukh Khan. Yet, it seems that working out is relegated to people who must do it for their job. So what exactly is preventing the community from exercising regularly?

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