Make walking a daily affair, not a one-day glamour event
“A man’s health can be judged by which he takes two at a time—pills or stairs.” — Joan Welsh
“The walk for health was a grand success,” cried out the electronic media that benefited hugely from the advertisement revenue from the insurance company and the hospital sponsoring the event. It has, indeed, been a motivational event to wake people up to the reality that healthy lifestyle is profitable. But there it ends. It would be prudent for us to ask for an outcome audit. What has been the final outcome of this propaganda?
If we were to believe that these two companies were doing all this for our benefit, we will be too naïve. No corporate business house does such big investment in advertising and organising an event of such magnitude without some benefit for its stakeholders. Most charity has some ulterior motive behind it. Most big charities in the world spend upwards of 80% of their funds for their administrative expenses! What then could be the motive?
The hospital involved gets many benefits in addition to the mega advertisement about their facilities. Many of those who took part in the walkathon, other than those regular walking freaks who are shown in the TV ads, might be those who had not walked that long, earlier. They will get some joint pains, joint swelling with fluid inside the joint sac and even muscle catches, in addition to a small percentage that gets shortness of breath, etc. They would want to get themselves investigated. There is a tendency for them to gravitate to this or other medical facilities.
The biggest source of income for hospitals these days is investigating apparently healthy people, for what is called routine check-ups. In the present context of the linear science of modern Western medicine, “routine check-ups in the apparently healthy could be most dangerous activity,” writes the British Medical Journal in one of its issues. Since we do not have a definition for NORMAL in our Western linear science, we use the averages as normal. This is dangerous. This brings between 5%-25% false positives for each parameter checked.
Thus a man/woman, who sees the doctor for check-up, becomes a patient for life. There is every possibility that many of them are given some drugs for life. Those drugs might have serious side-effects in the long run! To give you some idea, let us start with aspirin, the simplest drug given almost routinely when you see a doctor. This is claimed to give protection against heart attacks. Recent audits did show that “while aspirin in small doses might, or might not, prevent non-fatal heart attacks, they will certainly kill about 10% of that population due to cerebral haemorrhage.”
Calcium channel blockers, like nifedipine, are now seen to be associated with a significant increase in breast cancer in women. Some beta-blockers, like atenolol, are associated with increased risk of strokes. A simple H1 blocker, like some of the proton pump inhibitors, could prolong the QTc interval in the heart and could stimulate fatal arrhythmias. Even a simple anti-histaminic can also increase the QTc interval in the ECG like H1 blockers.
Study after study has clearly shown that checking up apparently healthy people, and then giving them reductionist chemical drugs, DOES NOT do any good; it might, in fact, do more harm.
Daily walking, starting slowly and building up after a couple of days, has great health benefits and is even known to reduce the incidence of major killers like stroke, coronary artery disease and diabetes. Coupled with daily routine devoid of undue stress, sensible diet; enthusiasm for work and being compassionate might be the best insurance against most of the killer lifestyle diseases.
If one could club all these routine healthy habits with yoga, meditation and praanaayaama, one could be healthy and active until death. If your lifestyle is any different, take the walkathon every year. But remember, if you are a sedentary person, walkathon might be counterproductive for you but good for the industry sponsoring the event.
“He’s the best physician that knows the worthlessness of the most medicines.” — Benjamin Franklin
(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS.)
Madan Mitra was summoned in November for questioning, but he sought a relaxation, citing health reason