A lit­tle get-up-and-go will change your life for the bet­ter

The Star Early Edition - - LIFE STYLE VERVE -

HEART dis­ease, di­a­betes, obe­sity and can­cer are all life­style dis­eases that are threat­en­ing to limit and end the lives of mil­lions of South Africans.

As we start the year – most of our in­ten­tions are good. To main­tain our health, lose weight and be more ac­tive. But some­how, at some point, we fall off the wagon.

The over­all health is more than just a res­o­lu­tion – it’s a life­style and re­quires change – more specif­i­cally, it re­quires you to change. We have com­piled a few changes, that if you were to make to­day, your fu­ture self will thank you.

With nearly 8 mil­lion adults light­ing up 27 bil­lion cig­a­rettes in the coun­try ev­ery year, it’s clear South Africans have a smok­ing prob­lem.

This, ac­cord­ing to the Western Cape No-To­bacco Task Team – a col­lab­o­ra­tion in­clud­ing the Heart and Stroke Foun­da­tion South Africa, Can­cer As­so­ci­a­tion of SA, Univer­sity of Cape Town (UCT) Lung In­sti­tute, City of Cape Town, and Western Cape De­part­ment of Health.

Ac­cord­ing to Professor Richard van Zyl-Smit of the UCT Lung In­sti­tute, smok­ing in­creases your risk of a heart at­tack, stroke, lung can­cer, pneu­mo­nia, em­phy­sema and dou­bles your risk of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis.

Quit­ting is not al­ways that easy as the nico­tine in to­bacco is highly ad­dic­tive. “There is no magic bul­let that will work for ev­ery­body, so the ap­proach to stop smok­ing should be in­di­vid­u­alised and of­ten re­quires a com­bi­na­tion of strate­gies.

“Suc­cess­ful quit­ting will re­quire emo­tional sup­port and pos­si­bly med­i­ca­tion such as nico­tine re­place­ment. A clear strategy, a de­fined start date, a long-term plan, and on­go­ing sup­port for suc­cess or re­lapses in­creases the chances of suc­cess”, says Van ZylSmit, who also au­thored the South African to­bacco-smok­ing ces­sa­tion guide­lines.

In South Africa, four out of 10 men and seven out of 10 women are over­weight or obese – this is a ma­jor risk fac­tor for the de­vel­op­ment of type 2 di­a­betes, a largely silent, asymp­to­matic con­di­tion with dev­as­tat­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar out­comes.

There may be as many as 4.6 mil­lion peo­ple in South Africa liv­ing with di­a­betes, and pos­si­bly the same num­ber at risk of de­vel­op­ing type 2 di­a­betes.

Grant New­ton, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Cen­tre for Di­a­betes and En­docrinol­ogy (CDE), says it is crit­i­cal that as a so­ci­ety we start work­ing to­gether to man­age the cur­rent na­tional cri­sis posed by di­a­betes and re­lated chronic health con­di­tions, all of which re­sult in pre­ma­ture and in­creased car­dio­vas­cu­lar risk. “Not ev­ery­one will de­velop this po­ten­tially lifethreat­en­ing health con­di­tion, but di­a­betes will af­fect all of us. We are con­cerned that in South Africa 68% of peo­ple with di­a­betes re­main un­di­ag­nosed.”

Change your life­style. Ac­cord­ing to non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion, Di­a­betes SA, sci­en­tists be­lieve that life­style and type 2 di­a­betes are closely linked. This means that life­style is one area which in­di­vid­u­als can fo­cus on to help pre­vent or de­lay the on­set of the dis­ease. A healthy diet, weight con­trol, ex­er­cise, re­duc­tion in stress and no smok­ing are im­por­tant pre­ven­ta­tive steps.

Ac­cord­ing to the Can­cer As­so­ci­a­tion of SA, South African men have a life­time risk of one in ev­ery 27. The top can­cers af­fect­ing men in the coun­try are prostate can­cer, Ka­posi sar­coma (a skin can­cer), lung and col­orec­tal can­cer and tes­tic­u­lar can­cer, which is one of the most com­monly di­ag­nosed in men be­tween the ages of 15 and 39.

It claims the lives of many young men who are of­ten too scared or em­bar­rassed to speak up when it comes to find­ing lumps or ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in their tes­ti­cles.

Check your balls. It’s as easy as feel­ing around after a warm shower or bath for any hard lumps, as well as any no­tice­able changes to the size, shape and ap­pear­ance of the tes­ti­cles. Screen­ing is also key – rou­tine Prostate Spe­cific Anti­gen (PSA) test­ing an­nu­ally for men from age 40 who are at high risk of prostate can­cer. This in­cludes those men with more than one first-de­gree rel­a­tive who had prostate can­cer at an early age (younger than 65 years).

The silent killer, high blood pres­sure, af­fects mil­lions of peo­ple and their fam­i­lies in the coun­try, with 6.3 mil­lion liv­ing with high blood pres­sure.

Ac­cord­ing to the Heart and Stroke Foun­da­tion, one in three South Africans, 15 years and older, have hy­per­ten­sion, with the high­est rate of high blood pres­sure re­ported among peo­ple aged 50 and over for any coun­try in the world. Al­most eight out of 10 peo­ple in this age group are be­ing di­ag­nosed with high blood pres­sure and a shock­ing one in 10 chil­dren are al­ready suffering from high blood pres­sure.

The South African Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion em­pha­sised the im­por­tance of “know­ing your num­ber” – mean­ing, get your blood pres­sure checked.

From there, you should re­duce salt con­sump­tion, eat more fruit and veg­eta­bles, limit al­co­hol in­take, quit smok­ing if you are a puffer, be phys­i­cally ac­tive and main­tain a healthy body weight.

If gym mem­ber­ship fees are a de­ter­rent to you be­ing your best healthy and in-shape self – here’s an al­ter­na­tive, just run. It’s free – so no ex­cuses. Not only is it good for your over­all health but it also aids in weight loss and mus­cle tone. Fur­ther­more, run­ning or be­ing phys­i­cally ac­tive also boosts men­tal health.

Find a good safe route, get the right gear and hit the tar. Whether run­ning alone or as a group, in the morn­ing or late af­ter­noon, get up and go – phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity re­duces the chances of de­vel­op­ing a plethora of ail­ments, in­clud­ing those listed here.

LET’S GET PHYS­I­CAL: A woman pre­pares for a run.

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