The elevator was launched in the West long ago, but even now, health conscious people there sometimes use the stairs instead as an excuse for a small workout. The people in the East however still cling to Western ideals not bothering how they can optimize their health. To be really healthy, one needs to shun false ideals and adopt a lifestyle that can boost one’s health in the long run. For example, people in Pakistan blindly follow the media trends without using their own mind. The media ad campaigns capitalize on people’s imaginations promoting intake of soft drinks with BBQ meals. The viewer sitting in front of television sets does not even bother to seek a second opinion whether it is good for him to have cold drinks with Shish Kebobs for the poor fellow has been brainwashed. No doubt, cold drinks with spicy meals taste great since they provide temporary respite from the chilly flavour yet we ignore the risks to health involved. Research shows that having cold water or drinks during meals slows down the digestion since it is a heat consuming process. Furthermore, the intestines secrete a fluid during digestion, which gets diluted when we drink cold water.
Modern times offer a passive lifestyle. Driving a vehicle is everybody’s dream and nobody thinks of balancing it out with physical workouts. There are very few people who are cautious of maintaining good health that take up brisk walking or jogging to burn body fats and in this way lend some exercise to the heart muscles. Leading sedentary life styles makes us fall victim to heart diseases, diabetes, depressions and what not! Regular workouts lasting even 20-30 minutes, at least three to four times a week can rescue us and make us fit. Normally, executives who have hectic work schedules find themselves working late in the evenings, and then only wish to return home after wrapping their routine duties. Such individuals could buy an affordable treadmill to keep at homes, which they could use in the morning for 15-20 minutes before breakfast. This is also a way to keep your blood pressure under control and to remain active and youthful. Apart from treadmills, many free hand exercises like push-ups and pull-ups could also be undertaken. Many natural activities in your domestic settings can also contribute to your health. For instance, instead of always relying on your gardener, you can give him a leave once a week and pull the lawn mower for trimming your lawn or cutting the hedges in your garden with scissors yourself even if it requires sweating.
Our thought patterns play a very significant role in determining our health. Many of us lack a greater purpose in life. Our goals just revolve around getting university degrees, getting an executive job and progress even at the cost of the right of our colleagues, having a car after just one year of job experience, wanting to be socially accepted in even those circles where we do not belong, getting married, looking after our children and then preparing ourselves for the retirement phase in terms of financial security. These targets are somewhat necessary to nurture but depending on our resources, our Creator demands something more from us. We have to reach out to those who are in distress, be they in our neighbourhood or wherever we spend most of our time. The feeling that you are doing something for others not just as a charity measure but as goodwill gesture raises your spirits and strengthens your mind over the years. Goodwill acts may involve contributing to the plight of the people in your area, giving free tuitions to youth imparting them with your wisdom and experience, and carrying out small steps that might be seemingly mundane like helping out around your own house instead of leaving everything to the servants.
Cable TV viewing has now taken a large share of our time in the evenings. The favourite pastime for many is channel surfing where they keep switching between 60-70- channels. The term ‘couch potato’ was never so relevant as today. Obesity is the hallmark of the second millennium and more so because of our food consuming habits. Many people here prefer eating out in restaurants and consume snacks or processed foods preferring them to fresh vegetables and fruits that guard your body against illnesses. Drink consuming habit need to be monitored also. Green tea intake two to three times a day is very beneficial to tone up your body and helps in fighting scores of illnesses including cancer, while imparting vitality to your moods. In addition to that, 10-12 glasses of water-intake daily is much necessary as it flushes your inner system, energizes you up and keeps your skin youthful.
We are a poor country, yet we aspire for the lifestyles of the inhabitants of the first world as conveyed through their media messages that have grown deep in our mindsets. The thing to be wary here is that many Westerners are simple folk who shun the media trends and adopt healthy outlooks with focus on natural foods. Good health is above all, and there should be no compromise on it.
‘Sunday Plus’, The Nation, Lahore.