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The Warning Sign - You Can not Ignore (Part 2) - Exercise and Diet

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Exercise and Diet.

Description: Exercise and Diet.

The first order of business? Gradually increasing the amount of time you spend engaged in physical activity throughout the day. Exercise (both aerobic activities, such as walking, and resistance exercises, such as weight-lifting or pulling against large elastic bandds) helps address metabolic syndrome in a multitude of ways. For one, it makes tissues in the body more sensitive to insulin and mops up sugar in the blood. Working your muscles also improves the suppleness and flexibility of arteries and blood vessels, incinerates inflammation, melts deep abdominal fat, and boosts HDL levels to boot. Resistance exercise in particular builds muscle mass we would otherwise lose with age. “You can be 80 years of age, and if we get you into an adapted weight-lifting program the ability of the muscle to adapt and enlarge in as great as that of a 20 year old,” Després says. And you can reap most if not all of these benefits even if the number on the scale doesn’t budge, though a modest weight loss (five to seven per cent of total body weight) can amplify the effects even more. “I’ve seen very dramatic effects with just a five pound weight loss,” Hegele stresses.

How much physical activity is enough? Aim to accumulate at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity (be it walking, gardening, or hefting laundry baskets up and down stairs and vacuuming) per day, in bouts at least 10 minutes in length. If you’re less active than that now, gradually build up to that goal by a few minutes a day. “That’s in addition to any physical activity you already do,” says Dr. Robert Ross, an exercise physiologist, researcher, and professor of kinesiology at Queen’s University in Kingston, ON.

Since a burgeoning body of evidence indicates that time spent sitting is itself an independent risk factor for heart disease, cancer, and premature death, even in people who exercise regularly, walking for 30 minutes after spending the day on the sofa isn’t the best approach. “People should find any way they can to incorporate physical activity of daily living into their routine,” Ross says,

If you’ve been inactive for years, take heart, says Minetaro Narukivan Velsen, coordinator of the Happy Heart Community Wellness Clinic at St. Paul’ Hospital in Vancouver. “Going from a very sedentary lifestyle to modestly active is where you see the greatest gains in health outcomes,” he points out.

Activity is only half of the equation, however; adopting healthier eating habits is also a must. Exactly what entails will depend in part on you current diet. For some people, replacing sugary beverages like soda and juice with water or herbal tea, paring down portion sizes, or dropping junky trans-fat-laden snacks like packaged cookies and chips will go a long way towards reining in risk factors. Generally speaking, the evidence suggests that a lower-carbohydrates and sugar are replaces with protein and healthy fats (like those in nuts, avocados, and fish, for instance), is best for preventing and controlling metabolic syndrome and enhancing the loss of toxic belly fat. (White carbs and sugar can promote the accumulation of fat in the liver, Anand says, which in turn can worsen cholesterol levels, blood sugars, and blood pressure.) To maximize the odds of making such healthy lifestyle changes permanent, change one habit at a time, and set modest, measurable goals that aren’t related to weight loss for instance, cutting out one soda per day or exercising X minutes per week.

A Different Outlook

If lifestyle measures don’t yield sufficient changes in your test results after a trial period of, say, six months, your doctor will prescribe medications to help. That said, when researchers sifted through four years of data from the Happy Heart Program (which resembles a cardiac rehabilitation  program) 40 per cent of those who had metabolic syndrome upon joining no longer fit the criteria for the condition after six months.

Description: Walking

Michel, whose physician referred him to the program, is eagerly awaiting the results of his six-month assessment. He’s stopped living mostly on frozen, processed food, and now makes most of his own meals from scratch, having discovered a new passion for cooking by swapping recipes and tips with other members of his support group. (He often makes big batches and freezes individual portions.) He’s also cut back on portion sizes, in part by using smaller plates, and faithfully attends exercise classes three times a week. And despite having quit smoking at the same time, he’s shed 10 pounds and his waist measurement has shrunk two inches. (Michel developed metabolic syndrome with a relatively modest waist size of 34 inches, perhaps due to his family history both parents and a sister died of heart at tacks.) What’s more, he‘s feeling much better physically and mentally than he has in years. In fact, he found exercise had such a profound impact on his mood that, with the approval of his doctor, he weaned himself off antidepressants, and so far so good.

“My lifestyle has changed totally,” he says. “It’s given me a different outlook in life, and my health.”

Some evidence suggests that having metabolic syndrome is associated with an increased risk of developing other health problems, including:

·         Sleep apnea

·         Cognitive decline

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