Healthy Living

HEALTHY DIET (EATING HABITS) : A Hearts-Healthy Lifestyle comprises of a balanced diet, regular exercise, reduced high cholesterol levels, no smoking and reduced stress levels.


  • Avoid saturated fats.
  • Consume whole grains, fresh fruits & vegetables rich in fiber.
  • Keep Salt intake to minimum.
  • Source of Proteins-Soya, Fish.
  • Vitamins & Supplements.
  • Natural chemicals in cooked Tomato, Garlic, and Onion offer protection for the heart.
SOME GENERAL DIETARY GUIDELINES :
  • Reduce food intake (and start exercising) to maintain a desirable body weight.
  • Eat more fiber. This can be obtained from natural foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grain oats, beans etc.
    A high fiber diet reduces the absorption of fats and cholesterol from the intestine.
  • Drink caffeine and alcohol in moderation. Limit yourself to less than 2 cups of tea or coffee and one alcoholic drink per day. Anything more than this can increase you cholesterol.
  • Reduce the intake of fat to less than 30 % of your total caloric intake. Vegetarian food is healthy and reduces cholesterol.
  • Choose oils containing unsaturated fats as your cooking medium. As a general rule of thumb, any fat, which is solid at room temperature, contains saturated fats that are bad for you. Choose oils that are liquid at room temperature, since these generally contain unsaturated fats. These include sunflower oil, safflower oil, groundnut oil, olive oil, corn oil, etc.
  • However coconut oil and palm oil are exceptions to this rule and should be avoided.
  • Use non-stick cookware, which reduces the requirement of oil during cooking.
  • Never deep-fry your food.
  • When eating out, choose dishes that are boiled, baked, steamed or grilled rather than fried.

EXERCISE - Regular & Moderate :
WHAT IS AN EXERCISE?
Any physical activity is a form of exercise. This includes non-structured exercise like cycling, working in the garden or walking. Structured exercises include jogging, aerobics and weight lifting.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE?
Without exercise your body and mind suffer. You feel tired, listless and tense. Your weight may become uncontrollable and you begin to get sick more easily. This leads to problems like stress and stroke. Exercise is important for everyone: any exercise is better than none at all.

Regular exercise has several benefits :
  • Weight control
  • Lowered cholesterol
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Lesser risk of having a heart attack
  • Faster recovery from a heart attack
  • Control of blood sugar
  • Stronger bones (less osteoporosis)
  • Relaxation
  • Positive approach towards life, lesser stress
  • Better sleep
  • Improved posture
  • Feeling fitter and stronger
  • Better digestion
  • Increased life span

When you start to exercise, your bodies system starts to work harmoniously together. Exercise enhances the body's ability to utilize oxygen more efficiently. This happens in the following ways :

  • Lack of exercise will make you huff and puff even on mild exertion. Exercise helps the lungs take in oxygen more efficiently. Regular exercise causes the lungs to expand fully during exertion, which helps in better oxygenation of blood.
  • A neglected heart becomes less powerful. Exercise strengthens the heart so it does not have to work so hard since it can pump more blood per beat. Hence, it does not need to overexert to keep up with the body's demands for oxygen.
  • Lack of exercise makes the blood vessels hard and non-resilient. Your blood vessels open up more during an exercise, encouraging blood flow. Moreover, exercise helps to make the blood 'thinner', preventing the formation of blood clots.
  • Muscles that are reconditioned use oxygen inefficiently. After regular exercise, the energy utilization of muscles becomes more efficient and they can do the same amount of work with lesser oxygen requirement.
  • Reconditioned muscles tire easily since they cannot efficiently obtain the oxygen they need. Additionally, they are more prone to injury and wear and tear. A conditioned body like a well-tuned engine works much better with lesser expenditure of energy and can be expected to last longer.
    Of course, all these benefits cannot come by exercising once in a while. To reap these benefits, one has to make exercise a way of life.

ARE YOU A LITTLE UNFIT?
Do you get a little breathless on climbing those extra floors, or carrying that extra weight? Has your energy diminished with age? Does your belly protrude a little too much, or do your muscles feel too flabby? If you have answered yes to any of these questions than you are a little unfit, though getting fit doesn't mean changing your whole life. You don't need to run 10 miles a day or swim 20 laps of the pool. You don't need to join a gym, buy special shoes or weights, or become a member of an exclusive health club. The first step to getting fit is to feel the need to do so. Perhaps you have been thinking all along that it's about time that you got a little exercise, but lacked the will power to start or were not sure about how to go about it. Whether you are young or old, in or out of shape, a heart patient or not, you should make exercise a part of your life, little by little. If you do not like exercising alone then you can do it with your friends or your spouse. Start an activity that you enjoy, but do start. It's never too late to take the crucial first step towards fitness!

DO YOU USE THESE EXCUSES NOT TO EXERCISE?
  • "I have no time". You can certainly spare 20 minutes, thrice a week
  • "I'm too old". That's not true. You're never too old to exercise.
  • "I'm on my feet all day. I don't need any more exercise ". Unfortunately, just being 'on your feet' is not enough exercise for anyone. You need to walk or exercise for some time continuously for it to be effective.
  • "I am exercising enough". This statement is unfortunately not true for most people. What you think is enough may not be so. Also you may not be regular enough.
  • "I find exercising too boring". This need not be so. Find an exercise you like. Vary your schedule. It is not important what sort of exercise you do, as long as you do something.
  • "I'm not into sports." A common misconception. Exercise does not mean being an athlete, or good at games. Any form of exercise is acceptable and as good as any other.
  • "I find exercising too strenuous." You are probably doing it wrong. You don't need to huff and puff and drip with sweat for exercise to be good for you. A gentle, but regular exercise schedule is almost as effective as a vigorous one.
  • "I used to exercise, but now I can't keep it up". Why not? May be you did not like the form of exercise you were doing. Perhaps you just need a little nudge to get you started again. Let reading this give you that inspiration.
  • "It's too expensive". That depends on what form of exercise you choose. While golf or an expensive health club can be costly, walking costs nothing.
  • "It could be dangerous ". This is not true for most people. However, if patients having pre-existing heart disease start exercising suddenly at high workloads, then it can certainly be dangerous. If you have high blood pressure, a family history of heart disease, or chest pain when exercising, it would be prudent to consult a cardiologist before commencing an exercise schedule.

WHAT SORT OF EXERCISE IS GOOD FOR ME?
Exercise does not have to be vigorous to be beneficial. Aerobic exercise i.e. exercise which makes you huff and puff for at least 30 minutes thrice a week is best. But if this is not possible, then even milder forms of exercise can be beneficial. Remember that one uses the same amount of energy if one walks a certain distance or runs the same stretch. So, if you are shying away from an exercise program because you feel that you cannot run or walk fast enough, take inspiration from this fact. Your exercise program need not be vigorous to be beneficial. Find your own way to exercise, but stick to it. What is important is that is that you take steps to become more active, fitter and healthier. Look into your daily routine and try to find out when you can fit in 15-20 minutes of exercise on most days. Making exercise a part of your daily schedule will make it easier to stick to.

HOW MUCH EXERCISE, HOW LONG, HOW OFTEN?
The more you exercise the better it is for you but keep it within a limit. Although exercising to raise your heart rate sufficiently (see section on "target heart rate" below) at least 3 days a week is considered adequate, more than this is better.
Beyond this general outline you should let your own body decide how much exercise is good for it. If your exercise is moderate, try to do it daily. However, with a vigorous schedule, every alternate day is acceptable in order to give your muscles, joints and ligaments time to rest. Remember, it's the total energy expenditure over a week that counts. Once you become comfortable at one level of exercise, you can increase it by exercising for longer periods, more often, harder each time, or changing to another form of activity: e.g. from walking to jogging. Whatever you do, be regular over the years. Let exercise become a habit.
I AM NO LONGER YOUNG. CAN I BEGIN TO EXERCISE NOW?
It is never too late. Although you may not be able to indulge in vigorous exercise if you are starting at a later age, you can certainly perform gentler exercises like walking, golf, swimming, gardening, etc. These exercises will also give you all the benefits enumerated above. However, you must be careful about starting off and consult a doctor before you begin especially if you suffer from angina or have high blood pressure. Also, you must proceed gradually, without trying to achieve great exercising ambitions, too soon. Lifting heavy weights or indulging in short spurts of intense exercise should be avoided.

SOME COMMON ADVICE ON EXERCISING:

  • Make exercise a part of your daily routine: take the stairs instead of the lift, walk an extra bus stop before and after work, don't drive when you can walk.
  • Choose an exercise that you like. It's easier to keep up.
  • Always start at a low level of exercise. Gradually increase your exercise intensity and frequency over weeks to months.
  • Warm up and cool down before and after exercising. A 3-minute warm-up will loosen up your muscles and ligaments and prevent injury. A 5-minute cooling down period after exercising will help prevent feeling light-headed or nauseous.
  • Try to exercise at the same time every day. It is better accepted by the body's internal clock.
  • Don't overdo it. If you are feeling low, have a cold or lack of sleep, cut down on your exercise till you are better. Over exertion in these settings can be injurious.
  • Avoid exercising in extremes of hot or cold.
  • Don't exercise after meals or consuming alcohol
  • Don't be a 'weekend warrior', i.e., do not attempt to squeeze in a whole week's exercise into one Sunday. This sort of an approach does not work and can be positively harmful
  • Dress sensibly: choose loose fitting clothes that do not impede your movements. If you run or walk on hard surfaces, wear shoes with shock-absorbing soles.
  • Drink plenty of water to replace losses through perspiration.
  • Listen to your body, watch for signs of overexertion: you may be exercising too hard if it makes you run out of breath, light-headed or dizzy, causes severe palpitation or sweating, and results in joint pains and muscle soreness.
  • Do not exercise on ground made of concrete it causes drying of the bone marrow and at a later stage, arthritis.

WALKING
Walking is probably the best form of exercise in the world. It is a safe and effective way to become and stay fit. It helps improve the efficiency of the heart, lungs and muscles. Walking is effective for weight reduction, relieving stress, improving muscle tone, increasing bone and joint strength and in general creating a feeling of well being.
Although it is 'just' a natural everyday activity, walking is extremely good for you. Previously dismissed as "too simple to be taken seriously" by the west, walking is now being looked upon with respect all over the world. This simple form of exercise appeals to all being convenient, inexpensive and fun to enjoy alone or with friends. It requires no special athletic skills or equipment and is probably the only form of exercise that can be performed by any age group, without any previous training, at all times and anywhere. Best of all, it's free!

BENEFITS OF BRISK WALKING :

  • Lowers heart rate and Blood Pressure
  • Lowers Cholesterol
  • Lowers Blood Sugar Level
  • Opens up Blood Vessels
  • Reduces Stress

The feeling of general well being that results from regular walking is immense and has to be experienced to be believed! Brisk walking on a regular basis improves the body's ability to utilize oxygen efficiently. This results in lowering the resting heart rate and blood pressure. This in turn reduces the load on the heart, which protects against heart attacks. A lower blood pressure also results in reducing the risk of stroke. Additionally, walking helps burn calories: muscle replaces fat, this results in weight loss. An ideal body weight has a direct bearing on the incidence of diabetes mellitus, heart disease, high blood pressure and arthritis.


HOW MUCH SHOULD I WALK?
Walking should be regular (at least 3 days per week). One should walk briskly for at least 20 to 30 minutes at a time. A brisk walk is essential to condition the heart and the lungs. To gauge whether you are walking briskly enough it is necessary to take your pulse immediately after a brisk walk. Your aim should be to achieve your target heart rate, which can be determined by the formula:
(220- Age) multiplied by-->
-0.6 for beginners
-0.7 for intermediate walkers
-0.8 for advanced walkers

So if you are a 40-year–old beginner, your target heart rate is : (220 – 40) x 0.6 = (180) x 0.6 = 108
As you walk oftener and get into better shape, increase your
Target heart rate to: 180 x 0.7 = 126
And later to: 180 x 0.8 = 144

Remember, this is the heart rate to be achieved at the end of the brisk walk. Obviously, you cannot reach your target on the first day itself. Your initial few days of walking should not be unduly stressful to your body and you should endeavor to reach this target rate only after several weeks of walking. If you have a heart disease, you should consult your cardiologist for the target heart rate that is best for you.

A walking program for a beginner is suggested below :

Week: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Minutes Walk: 10 10 15 20 20 25 30 35 35 40
Walks / Week: 2 3 3 3-4 4 4 4 4 3-5 5
Km: start with 1 km on week 1, and gradually build up to 4 km by week 10

PRECAUTIONS BEFORE STARTING OFF If you are not physically active, or suffer from a medical disease, you should see your doctor before embarking on this (or any other exercise) program. This precaution is especially important if :
  • You are over 40 years of age and not accustomed to regular exercise.
  • You have heart trouble, a heart murmur or have suffered a heart attack.
  • Your high blood pressure is not under control or you do not know whether your blood pressure is normal or not.
  • You have angina pectoris. This may present as pain or a feeling of constriction in the chest, throat, shoulder or arm after exercise or eating food.
  • You become excessively breathless after mild exertion.
  • You have dizzy spells or fainting episodes.
  • You have bone or joint problems.
  • You are unsure about your ability to exercise for any other reason.
REMEMBER :
  • Start off gradually. Do not try to reach your target heart rate in the first few days of beginning your walking program. Start with the amount of walking you are accustomed to. As you get in shape gradually increase the duration and then the intensity (speed and distance) of walking.
  • Plan to achieve your goal (walking briskly for 30 minutes at target heart rate) only after 10 to 12 weeks of regular walking.
  • Stretch before you walk. Stretching prepares your muscles and joints for exercise. Stretch your calf and thigh muscles, each side 3 times slowly, maintaining each position for 5-10 seconds. Never start to walk without a warm up.
  • Cool down by walking at a normal pace for 5 to 7 minutes before stopping.
  • Be regular in your walking habits. Daily walking is excellent, but at least 3 days per week are necessary to benefit from the program.
  • Make the walk as interesting as you can. Take your family or friends along.
  • Listen to the radio or a Walkman. Try the park one day, the beach on the next.

Walking is probably the best form of exercise in the world. It is a safe and effective way to become and stay fit. It helps improve the efficiency of the heart, lungs and muscles. Walking is effective for weight reduction, relieving stress, improving muscle tone, increasing bone and joint strength and in general creating a feeling of well being.
Although it is 'just' a natural everyday activity, walking is extremely good for you. Previously dismissed as "too simple to be taken seriously" by the west, walking is now being looked upon with respect all over the world. This simple form of exercise appeals to all being convenient, inexpensive and fun to enjoy alone or with friends. It requires no special athletic skills or equipment and is probably the only form of exercise that can be performed by any age group, without any previous training, at all times and anywhere. Best of all, it's free!