Do we all have the opportunity to make healthy heart choices? Are we sometimes forced to make hard choices because we lack the knowledge, do not have a safe place to walk, are forced to eat unhealthy meals because that is the only available or affordable one? Our environment definitely has a huge impact on our ability to make heart-healthy choices.
If you, in your relatively privileged position still face challenges that prevent you from making heart-healthy choices then you can appreciate the enormity of the task ahead. Fortunately for us when we all come together even the small changes we make may have a dramatic effect.
A cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease such as heart disease and stroke is the world’s number one killer. This killer appears to be on the path to rid the world of humans and we certainly seem to be creating the right environment to enhance its mission.
When 17.3 million lives are lost yearly worldwide and it is projected that at least 23 million precious lives will be lost yearly by 2030 if we continue to fan the flames of modifiable risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, inadequate physical activity and obesity then you and I need to sit up and play our roles to save the world; individuals, employers, churches, mosques, governments and every group you can imagine.
The risk factors for cardiovascular diseases as listed above may be influenced a lot by our lifestyle: tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity but as stated previously sometimes we can’t place the blame only on individuals; we need to create the right environment for heart health where we LIVE, WORK and PLAY!!!
Three (3) Easy Steps to a Heart-Healthy Environment
Avoiding tobacco in all forms irrespective of its disguise, increasing physical activity and eating a heart-healthy diet wherever we LIVE, WORK and PLAY and encouraging others to do the same will go a long way to curb the cardiovascular massacre that makes Ebola Virus Disease look like child play. Though stress is not one of the three areas covered, BEWARE of this pretender. Quite often if it is not controlled it may lead to vices such as smoking, unhealthy eating and lack of a desire to be physically active.
AVOID SMOKING/TOBACCO USE
- Ban smoking where you LIVE (home).
- Say NO to smoking at WORK. Don’t even toy with being a passive smoker
- Surely smoking has no role to play at PLAY
INCREASE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
- Be physically active where you LIVE; limit time spent sitting and watching TV. Use commercial breaks to walk or exercise, walk while you make phone calls and spend time outdoors walking, cycling, playing games and even cleaning or working in a garden if you have one
- Bring exercise or physical activity to where you WORK. I am a big advocate of onsite group exercise programmes because you gain heart-health and it also de-stresses you. Talk to a few friends and start walking, dancing or engaging in other forms of physical activity during lunch break or before or after work.
- When you play, PLAY right!! Parents and role models should lead by example. Children love to copy. Limit TV watching and sedentary games to at most 2 hours a day.
- Are you aware that the wise men and women at World Health Organization (WHO) have advised that children between the ages of 5 – 17 years need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity a day.(do our children get this benefit where they LIVE (home), where they WORK (school) or where and when they PLAY. Let us STOP depriving our children of great health.
EAT A HEART-HEALTHY DIET
- Your kitchen is linked to your heart-health. At home (where you LIVE) ensure you add fresh fruits and vegetables to your meals. It may be a strain on your pocket but it is definitely worth it. Make smart choices. Limit pre-packaged foods because they are often high in fat, salt and sugar
- Do remember that if you keep something long enough at home you will EAT it so stock healthy food options.
- At WORK watch what you eat. You could bring something healthy from home, get your workplace canteen to provide healthy meals or if you need to order food beware of what and where you order from
- At PLAY avoid unhealthy drinks and snacks. Fruits and water are great options and a healthy meal from home before playing is what the doctor prescribed.
Before you begin this quest it will be great if you could talk to your doctor to check your numbers (see below) to assess your risk for cardiovascular disease and advice appropriately. If you don’t have access to one please adopt the steps above immediately. We don’t have time to waste. SAVE YOUR LIFE & THAT OF OTHERS NOW!
AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI)
Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Moms’ Health Club/Health Essentials
Dr Essel is a medical doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.
Thought for the week – “Even small basic heart healthy choices may lead to dramatic effects. Start NOW!”
- www.world-heart federation.org