Check out cancer

We have written about holistic health and aerobics at some length in our recent columns. The cynic and the couch potato may dismiss this as a good-in theory-but-does-it-actually-work in practice? Time then to take our Fitness-for-Life approach from the library and test-run it on the killing fields of real life. Pit it against the arguably Enemy Number One, ­Cancer. Cancer is a fatal disease if it runs its course. But the good news is holistic health and lifestyle can nip cancer in the bud (read cell) if treated at an early state and stage. Aerobic exercise is both a shield and sword in this ancient all-pervading perennial disease. And aerobic exercise is the missile to launch and target a preemptive strike on cancer. Prevention is the best cure.

The tiny atom akin to the cell, developed into a mighty bomb, defeated Japan in World War II. But Japanese grit, enterprise, discipline, dedication, resilience brought it back and how! Today, it has regained and retained its status — as a social-economic world power.

India as a nation and all of us its inhabitants would do well to emulate the modern Japanese model. The original land of the rising sun blends its ancient eastern ethos with modern western methods to benefit its people and itself. Without shedding its unique identity.

You could do the same and say Namaste to good health. First of all, make exercise a routine, and stick to it. This is how it works. Workouts involve every cell in the body, consume food as fuel and have beneficial effects on our hormonal environment and immune system.

Aerobic exercise positively improves the respiration capability of each cell and creates a harmonious environment that reduces the risk of developing cancer. Thus, its first syllable can spring into action. Exercise can be a preemptive strike against illness — a shield in our body that houses an army of white cells for literally self-defence.

Women who have regularly exercised for a long time are relatively less vulnerable to breast cancer than those that haven’t, because exercise extends a shield by inducing reductions in oestrogen levels.

Aerobic is an alternate form and word for ‘with oxygen’. Oxygen cannot be stored in the body (unlike food which can) and our cells need a lot of it. That is the state for aerobics to take centrestage. This form of exercise increases our normal capacity to process oxygen, and is the healthy highway to positively step up our cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Aerobics enable the body to take in more air with less effort. It empowers the lungs to derive more oxygen from the increased air supply and transport it to the cells where it is needed to combine with food to produce energy. Aerobics also pumps blood more effectively and increases the total volume of blood. The heart in turn becomes larger and stronger. The blood vessels enlarge and become more elastic. Blood flow to the muscles is improved. Muscles and ligaments are strengthened. And joints become more mobile and stronger. Aerobics is literally a joint exercise conducted by oxygen and nutrition to defend the body’s borders against its enemies.

American writers Doll and Peto say that 80 and 90 per cent of all cancers could, in principle, be avoided. They also cautioned, “… to begin to meet this challenge we shall need to effect a significant change in attitudes amongst doctors and other health professionals as well as in the lay public whom they serve.”

The tragic truth all over the world including India is that western, modern medicine and its practitioners have little or no knowledge and training in preventive medicine, nutrition and exercise. You, yourself, are responsible for your health and can’t shrug off this burden. But you can surely begin with shoulder shrugs to warm up as a pre-exercise. And work on your aerobic health. As assurance to your insurance.

Normal cells rely heavily on aerobic respiration to produce ATP — a process that is the driving force of every cell to empower the body. On the other hand, cancer is created by rogue cells that multiply like crazy rabbits and voluntarily take in and thrive on an anaerobic (non-aerobic) form of ­respiration — glycolysis — a process that converts glucose sans oxygen even when it is abundantly available. This phenomenon produces less efficient energy and lays an acidic foundation for cancer progression.

Hence, lower the odds of specific cancer risks with exercise. Exercise exerts a systemic influence on the body’s hormonal harmony by lowering levels of agitated indicators — insulin and insulin-like growth forces. A high level of insulin exposes the body to a greater cancer risk — primarily, colon cancers.

Women who have regularly exercised for a long time are relatively less vulnerable to breast cancer than those that haven’t. Mainly because exercise extends a shield by inducing reductions in oestrogen levels.

Regular aerobics combined with healthy nutrition and lifestyle virtually eliminate obesity — the huge harbour and harbinger of ill health. Weight management lowers the boom on a variety of cancers.

In India, we need to reassess public health. Increase an incredible number of ‘barefoot’ doctors and spread holistic health to hut and house. To house the homeless and employ the jobless.

The writers are authors of Fitness for Life and Simply Spiritual – You Are Naturally Divine and teachers of the Fitness for Life programme

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