A few years back, no one knew what metabolic syndrome was. These days, it’s as widespread as the common cold. What exactly is this condition that also goes by the mysterious name of Syndrome X?
Metabolic syndrome is a grouping of risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and abdominal fat. Together, they set the stage for multiple and severe problems. They can double risk of blood vessel and heart disease, leading to heart attacks and strokes. The risk of diabetes goes up five times in people with metabolic syndrome.
In India, with most of us habituated to desk jobs and sedentary lifestyles, metabolic syndrome is a huge risk.
A survey of 560 subjects conducted by PD Hinduja National Hospital & Medical Research Centre in Mumbai shoed a high incidence, especially in the 41-60 age group. It is estimated that cardiovascular disease will be the largest cause of disability and death in India by 2020.
But adopting a healthier lifestyle can stave off problems.
A study conducted at Oregon State University in the United States in 2012 showed that regular physical activity participation was associated with positive health outcomes for both men and women. The same research showed that short bouts of physical activity that add up to 30 minutes a day are just as effective as the half hour on the treadmill to keep blood pressure and cholesterol in check, and prevent metabolic syndrome.
How do you do that?
Experts advocate the movement lifestyle approach over the structured exercise one.
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Focus on enhancing health by accumulating physical activity in short bursts throughout the day. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator, pacing while talking on the phone, walking to the supermarket or doing bicep curls while watching TV. Add to the 30-minute aerobic exercise guideline with small tweaks to your regular routine — skip rope or do on-the-spot jogging during a TV commercial break or try hand flaps when waiting for a call.
Keep in mind that surfing TV for four hours burns 50 kcal. Instead, if you were to work in the garden or turn out all the cupboards, the energy expenditure would be about 100-150 kcal/hour. Clearly, every little bit of movement helps.
At work, try and choose the desk farthest from the printer and loo. Take the longest way to get there each time and make it a habit to get your own cup of tea or coffee. Stretches and yoga moves can also be made part of your desk routine.
Research has shown that short bouts of exercise have positive results in areas of BP, cholesterol, MS and waist circumference. Build them into your day today!