Article, Workout

Going fat free

The lessons have been spelt out time and again. For a strong heart, exercise regularly, eat well and lead a healthy lifestyle. As it turned out, even these measures weren’t enough to save Ranjan Das, the 42-year-old CEO and MD of SAP, a multinational corporation, from succumbing to a cardiac arrest even as he finished a gym session at his Bandra apartment.

According to reports, Das was a fitness freak, had no bad habits and had even participated in the marathon. Perhaps the only black spot in an otherwise healthy schedule was lack of sleep (reportedly Das could get only a few hours of sleep every day).

Interestingly, while exercising ranks high up there in the healthy lifestyle to-dos, if you overdo it (to compensate for lack of other healthy habits) or do not get your required quota of sleep, you are only adding to your heart troubles, say doctors. Here’s why:

STRESS

“The Mumbai lifestyle is such, most of the stress goes undetected,” says Dr Rajiv Bhagwat, cardiologist attached with Nanavati Hospital, Criticare and others. “The long commute, erratic timings, even environmental pollution has an impact on wellness.”

Little wonder that the age of people complaining of heart ailments is getting younger by the day. Dr Chander Vanjani, head of cardiology, Hinduja Hospital cites the case of a 28-year-old chain-smoker who died of a heart-attack despite having no family history. Another patient had no vices, yet suffered an attack because of stress. “Since the last two years, at least five-10 people in the age group of 25-39 approach me every week with cholesterol abnormality and diabetes-hypertension,” he says.

LACK OF SLEEP

Sleep is often the casualty of a super busy, jet-setting lifestyle. Don’t pride on your ability to function “on just a few hours of sleep”. Good sleep is important for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart rate. “Our body has its own mechanism to maintain blood pressure, heart rate etc. Lack of sleep disturbs the biological clock, which no amount of exercising can rectify,” says Dr Bhagwat.

 

OVER-EXERCISING

Being fit is fine, but excessive gymming can cause more harm than good. Yoga expert and dietician Rujuta Divekar warns against the tendency to use “exercise as a form of punishment”. “Meditation works best when you do it with a calm mind, similarly for physical exercise you need a well-rested body,” she says.

 

The biggest disservice you can cause your body is hit the gym too hard when you are already feeling exhausted. “People who are sleep deprived have a lower metabolic rate. You won’t lose weight then. On the contrary, you might end up being more flabby,” she adds.

TOO MUCH EXERCISE

Over-exercising causes rise in blood pressure leading to plaque rupture. The rupture exposes and even attracts the unwanted or clot forming tissues. All of which is an ideal recipe for a heart attack. “Follow the norms of exercise if you are a fitness freak,” advises Dr Bhagwat. “Do natural exercises too – sporting activities, swimming, walking etc.”
The key, ultimately, is to find a balance — between life, work, exercise and most importantly, sleep (a factor most always-onthe-run-professionals ignore). Don’t wait for modern-day living to take a toll.

NOT SO HEARTY NUMBERS

The Saffolalife Study 2009, covering 8,469 people found that 49.1 per cent Indians were at high risk for developing heart diseases. Men in the 30-39 age group (totalling 1,598 of those surveyed) fell in this.
Mumbai and Chennai men were worst off (with a high-risk ratio of 49.6 per cent and 53.8 per cent respectively). The reasons were familiar: long working hours, commuting, unhealthy eating habits and lack of physical activity as compared to other cities.
Dr Shashank Joshi, endocrinologist with Lilavati Hospital, who was associated with the survey says, “The survey only underlines what we have been seeing, abnormal cholesterol and triglycerides levels among youngsters, all due to stress and disrupted sleep patterns.”

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