February is meant to be a fun month. We have Valentine’s Day and Family Day. Children have reading week. Many families make use of this time to take a holiday. Put real meaning to what family means. This is the month when many people find their life partner and make life-long commitment.
Then there are people who are born on February 29. You wonder whether it would have been better to be born on February 28 or Mar 1. February is also Heart Month. Every day you hear and read about heart disease and how it is going to kill you or paralyze you. You say, “Enough of this. Life is too short. Let me have my fun. Leave me and my heart alone.”
Your heart belongs to you. It has only one daddy. That is you. Same thing applies to me. I am responsible for my heart’s well being. We should all take as much responsibility as we are able for our own health. An editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ Jan 31, 2006) says, “…we know that people who are likely to live longer eat less, exercise more and are unlikely to smoke tobacco…” I call this simple and basic personal responsibility for taking care of our health.
The WHO research has shown that high proportion of the world’s illness can be attributed to relatively small number (20 or so) modifiable risk factors. In affluent countries like Canada, we talk about lifestyle factors in diseases like obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Remember, we are talking about modifiable risks factors.
Lifestyle changes mean any activity of an individual, family or community, with the intention of improving or restoring health, or treating or preventing disease. Lifestyle changes can result in large reductions in premature death and increase national productivity, says the CMAJ editorial. These changes can be made slowly in incremental fashion to achieve your goal. When it comes to eating, replace bad fats with good fats. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Do not forget little bit of red wine, almonds, garlic and dark chocolate. Who said making lifestyle changes was dull and uninspiring?
You can go dancing, swimming, make love, pray, meditate, laugh and go for a walk. Be involved in your community. There are lots of fun things you can do to stay healthy. You are only limited by your imagination.
In the last three columns, we have covered most of the areas you need to work on and be heart smart. Heart Month is almost over. Weather is still lousy. Snow is still on the ground. But don’t get depressed. Go out and have some fun.
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