75-yr-old runs the extra mile

Jan 13, 2012, 08:08 IST | Priyanka Vora

Marathon veteran and spinal neuro-surgeon Dr P S Ramani has inspired many patients to run with him; also organises marathons at the local level to promote physical fitness

Marathon veteran and spinal neuro-surgeon Dr P S Ramani has inspired many patients to run with him; also organises marathons at the local level to promote physical fitness 
For many years, spinal neuro-surgeon Dr P S Ramani has doling out a strange and unusual prescription to most patients who pass through his chamber, complaining of sundry aches and pains. "Run in marathons," he exhorts, the enthusiasm palpable in his voice. It comes as small wonder, then, that the 75-year-old is a seasoned marathon runner, having sprinted long distances in over 25 odd marathons across the country.

Not so lonely long-distance runner: Dr Ramani trains religiously
every morning for the marathons. Some of his patients, like Arun Singh
Virdi (below) who was operated for slip disc in 2005, are also inveterate
Marathon runners today

Needless to say, the veteran is busy counting the kilometres in the run-up to the much-anticipated Mumbai marathon this Sunday. He will be running the half-marathon. 

 In spite of his busy planner where appointments jostle each other for space, Dr Ramani has never missed a morning exercise routine. "I have always been fond of jogging, and the marathon has allowed me to enjoy my hobby even more intensely. It's good exercise too. As a surgeon, I spend hours standing in the operation theatres, followed by hours at my desk, diagnosing patients. My sedentary lifestyle leaves me with little scope to exercise," said Ramani. 

 Ramani refuses to allow his advancing age or his lack of free time to bend his will. "I was diagnosed with diabetes 20 years ago. There has been not a single episode where my blood-sugar level went uncontrolled," he said.

Ramani treats patients suffering from spondylosis and slip disc on a daily basis, both of which result from sedentary lifestyles, abnormal postures and lack of exercise.

"As a doctor, I can treat my patients in the OT and fix their spinal cords. But to nip the cause in the bud, I try and instill in them a love for exercise. This is why I introduce them to the marathon."

Ramani is now joined for his early-morning jogs by an entourage of inspired patients, all of whom are keen on running the marathon with him.

Arjun Singh Virdi (44) is one such inductee, who has resolved to also run the 21 km this Sunday. Dr Ramani operated on Virdi for slip disc in 2005. "I was so carried away by my work that I didn't even realise that I was neglected my health. After the surgery, sir (Ramani) advised me to start running, and since then, I haven't missed a single marathon. If he can run in spite of his busy schedule and run, then why can't I?" said Virdi.

To encourage general physical fitness among his patients, Ramani, who hails from Goa, has organised marathons at the local level as well. "In the Goa marathon that I organised, I asked all my patients to join in. Most of my patients who have been operated upon are now running and leading healthy and active lives," he said, beaming. 

80 years old retires hurt
Ashis Roy (80), who is registered as the oldest runner in the full marathon category for Sunday, will not be able to participate as he was diagnosed with a spinal ailment, which required surgery one-and-a-half months back. "This would have been my 114th marathon, but doctors have advised me rest. So this time I will watch the marathon on TV. I wish all the luck to the runners," he told MiD DAY.

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