This blog as might be apparent from the title has to do with running, biking and basically other outdoor individualistic sports, sometimes extreme, such as rock climbing . But don't be surprised if you find articles on work, personal life, music and even philosophy, this blog is an exception in this aspect in the blogosphere of running blogs and I am trying to revamp the blog to make it more runner friendly. You might want to look at the sidebar titled 'categorised', which as is obvious, categorizes my posts into different areas of interest.
The other thing that might interest many people is a section on 'running videos' and 'general videos' on the side bar, which I keep updating now and then.
I plan to bring in more posts on running and biking, with some added colour, so as to make them 'complete'. That's about it for now.
As a post-note, I have run a half-marathon, but I am yet to attempt a marathon, which through some concerted effort and time should happen in the future, but that ofcourse is not the culmination of this blog, it would on the contrary be something to jumpstart this blog onto new vistas.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A case for healthy living

My uncle (mom's elder brother) is a really amazing man. 65 years old, he is fit as ever. What's amazing about him is not just that he walks 2 hrs a day and wakes up at 3 am to do that. What's more amazing is that he is a man of strong will power and has influenced our family's and relatives' lives immensely.
Mama had a heart attack right around the time I was born, 23 years back. He was a chain smoker before that. A simple change in life-style and a strong will brought him back to life and healthy living. The number of days he has missed walking in the past 23 years have been few, which shows his dedication to walking regularly and towards a healthy lifestyle.

I believe there's a lesson to be learnt here. It's not enough to live long. You must also enjoy living in old age.
The argument given by smokers is that we are anyway going to die someday, how does it matter if we die a few years earlier.
The point is not just to live a few years longer, but to live all of these years with a healthy body and mind. A habitual smoker 20 years down the line would have done a lot of damage to his lungs. Agreed, he might have cut down his life time by just 5-10 years, but his/her last few years or decades might just get really miserable due to health problems. Making a life-style change then might have little improvement on the sense of well-being and health.

So at this point, the focus is on living longer and healthier. Let's just look at a few factors that affect positively or negatively the life-span of a human being:

1) Exercise: Some kind of physical activity is a must in today's world because it's easy to get caught up with work and lead a sedentary lifestyle. The human body is an amazing creation. Tweak it the right way and it will become stronger and more robust.
Today, there are infinite choices on the kind of physical activity to pursue:
Gyms; individualistic sports such as running, walking, biking, etc; group sports such as volleyball, soccer, etc; spiritual-physical disciplines such as yoga, tai-chi and other martial arts, etc.

2) Sleep: It's a simple observation that you are less active and alive when you have less sleep. There are general guidelines on how many hours to sleep and the right time for sleep, but I think one should sleep as much as the body requires, which could vary depending on the type of activity being done during the day. And my personal observation has been that the earlier in the night I sleep, the more refreshed I am during the day. Plus, nothing beats waking up in the early morning and taking in a whiff of fresh air.

3) Drugs: Substances that change the chemical make up of the brain temporarily or on a long-term basis are definitely not conducive to a healthy life-style.

4) Alcohol: There's a debate from what I have heard and read on the right amount of alcohol for consumption with some studies showing alcohol in moderation can be healthier, etc. I have nothing further to say here other than that one needs to be watchful and observant of the effects.

5) Stress: Its been said that stress is one among the many pressing health issues that we face today. I term stress as a lack of mental well-being. Stress, though being a mental affliction, can strongly affect the body. Hence it's all the more important to have a healthy level of stress. A steady, stable and equanimous mind, that is not affected much by life's ups and downs is one way towards reducing stress and improving mental well-being.
It's important to know today, how to relax when needed and that too in a healthy way (people give stress-release as a reason for smoking). Meditation and better breathing techniques that form a part of Pranayama would greatly help stress release. I personally used to do the shavasana (corpse-posture) when I used to get really stressed out during my first year in my under-grad.
The basic idea in shavasana is to relax every tiny muscle in the body through auto-suggestion and controlled breathing. It worked well for me.
Also, taking deep breaths from time to time is an effective way to relax and recharge the system.

6) Food: Last but not the least, the kind of food you consume can affect your mood and your sense of well-being, not to mention your productivity at work.
In America, people associate eating healthy food with being 'hippie'. That I think is ridiculous. Healthy food doesn't have to be bland or tasteless. If you find it bland, then you haven't yet learnt the art of cooking tasty food (Hint: Try inclduing spices into the food).

Now, the question arises, if one has the six factors above and other relevant factors (social life - family and friends, etc) under control, how long can one live - i.e. the ideal scenario. Is there a limit at all (of course, pollution imposes a limit)? The longest I have heard a person live is 160 years. Observing the life-style habits of these people should give an indication of what factors have influenced their longer life-span. Infact the following video does just that:

Another video can be found here
Surely, its worth following and living a healthy life-style to be able to live another 100 years!!!
Here's wishing all the readers of this blog a healthy life made through better life-style choices.

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