The Latest Statistics on Global Health
“More people died in 2008 from non-communicable diseases than contagious diseases…80% of heart disease, stroke and diabetes can be prevented… Most Non-Communicable Diseases are the result of four particular behaviors– (tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, and the harmful use of alcohol). That leads to four key metabolic/physiological changes
(raised blood pressure, overweight/obesity, raised blood glucose and raised cholesterol).”
World Health Organization (WHO)
Poor health impacts on our work productivity, mood and inter-personal relationships. It is as important to care for our personal health as it is to pursue our work deadlines and targets. Otherwise we may fail to reach our desired objectives if we are held back by one illness or ailment or another.
According to the Department of Health the four leading causes of death in Taiwan as of 2011 were: cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes—exactly the same picture painted by the World Health Organization.
The fact that big insurance companies are now teaming up with global fitness outfits points to the obvious importance of health as related to longevity and work productivity.
That’s why it is important to obtain a regular checkup of our weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar.
Once we know our personal levels of weight, blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol what can we do about it?
The suggestions of the WHO are clear and unambiguous: exercise, diet, and cutting out or reducing as far as we can tobacco and alcohol from our lifestyle. Easier said than done, but here are a few tips to get you started.
Exercise: Doctors say a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise 3x/week will help us combat the risk factors mentioned above. Generally there are two types of exercises. Examples of hard exercise are: jogging (or fast walking), cycling, swimming, tennis, squash, basketball, weight training, cardio exercises, calisthenics, taibo, karate. Examples of soft exercises are pilates, yoga, t’ai chi, aikido, gentle aerobics, zumba dance, etc. Choose the one you like the most or combine some of them together according to the time of the year. Whatever routine we choose, we know we have had a good workout when we perspire as that will release the toxins through the pores of the skin. While hard exercises build muscle, endurance and cardio-vascular strength, soft exercises tone the muscles, develop the glands and relax the mind.
For those who have difficulties todo hard exercises, even the habit of an early morning daily walk breathing in the fresh air of dawn has a thoroughly energizing effect on our bodies and minds. The early morning air is loaded with negative ions similar to the air near a waterfall, a swift flowing river or after a thorough rain shower. The vital energy provided by nature during these moments makes us feel completely re-charged. The Bureau of Health Promotion in Taiwan has designated November 11 as National Day for Walking to help people integrate it into daily life.
Join a fitness club that offers a wide variety of equipment and classes according to your need and interest. The support system found in the club will encourage your efforts at getting better. Some clubs even offer cash award incentives as part of friendly health competitions so that you can have fun, achieve your goals and get a reward on top!
Another advantage of exercise is the release of the happy hormones from our brain called endorphins which are known to lighten our mood and release stress. As the old adage goes, “Work hard and play hard”. Most doctors will tell you that diabetes can never be controlled if one has an aversion to physical exercise. The same could be said of many of today’s “lifestyle” diseases—a phenomenon of the last 50 years where our work patterns and modern conveniences have reduced our expenditure of physical energy.
Diet: Regular exercise should combine with a good diet to optimize the effect. What does a good diet consist of? In 1999, the top five American health associations got together and advised the public to: “choose a diet rich in grain products, vegetables and fruits and one that is low in saturated fat, fat and cholesterol and moderate in sugar and salt”. Known sources of saturated fats and cholesterol are meat, fish, eggs, deep fried foods and fast foods. The same can be said of sugar and salt to which many processed foods can be added (crisps, biscuits, cakes, white bread, carbonated drinks, sugared fruit juices, etc). Are we naming all of your favorite foods here?! As one doctor pointed out: “What’s good for the tongue is not always good for the stomach and what’s not good for the tongue is sometimes good for the stomach”.
Here’s a short video clip about some good foods to have in your diet from Wellness Guru, Dr. Andrew Weill, MD
Make a Plan
It is important to set goals for your personal health. Make your targets realistic and commit to achieving them over time. A dietician or nutrition expert can help you analyze your diet, point out the faults therein and assist you in creating a personalized health plan that you can willingly commit to over time.
A famous Indian sports science expert, Rujuta Diwekar who advises many Bollywood stars on diet and health, entitled her best selling book, “Lose your Weight—Don’t Lose Your Mind”.
“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them—every day begin the task anew”.
St. Francis de Sales
Be prepared for the inevitable setbacks that will come due to unforeseen events. Be willing to “make up” for the temporary detour by sacrificing a meal here or adding an exercise routine there, so that you stay on track to attaining your personal health targets. Make allowances for the weekend away with friends or the extravagant birthday party of your 8 year old son. The stress we feel at indulging in some of the “forbidden foods” only doubles the impact on our over-all wellness. So enjoy when it is the occasion and sacrifice when you get the chance.
Take a long term view towards health, achieving a balance in all levels: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Don’t go all out to lose the 10 kilograms of fat, because doing anything under force or through suppression will only bring back the problem once we let up!
“A (U.S.) government review of all studies on weight loss, found that 2/3 of dieters gain all the weight back within a year, and 97% gain it all back in five years”.
Dr. Deborah Wilson, MD
Just as we put time and energy into meeting our work deadlines and time lines, we have to put equal energy into preserving and caring for our life-long physical vehicle and its mental and spiritual residents. Otherwise we may end up spending our youth earning our money and our old age spending it all on our illnesses! The advantage of good health will be felt in every other aspect of your life so keep it as a priority. Good health permits us to thoroughly enjoy the fruits of our hard earned efforts for many years which we and our family richly deserve!