lifestyle diseases

What are lifestyle diseases?

All the diseases which are related to the way we live our lives- the way we eat, exercise, smoke and drink, lead stressful lives and our attitude towards sex and personal safety.

Or we can say that all the diseases that are caused by unhealthy lifestyle are called lifestyle diseases.

The important lifestyle diseases are-

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Cancers (of the lung, mouth, food pipe, wind pipe, female breast and of the colon)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Asthma and bronchitis
  • Ischemic heart diseases
  • Metabolic syndrome (syndrome X)
  • Mental stress
  • Crippling conditions of joints like low backache and osteoarthritis
  • Road traffic accident

So what do we do?

The good thing about the lifestyle diseases is that we can easily reduce the risk of these diseases by changing our lifestyle in a positive manner. The major factors which need to be focused upon are:

  • Eating the right type of diet
  • Ensuring adequate physical exercise
  • Avoid tobacco in all forms
  • Avoidance/moderation in alcohol use
  • Controlling mental stress
  • Practicing healthy sexual practices
  • Personal protection on the road while driving
  • Protection against the insects which transmit diseases.

Physical exercise

Health benefits of physical exercise by which it helps to prevent the lifestyle diseases:

  • Reduces the level of blood pressure
  • Reduces depression and stress
  • Bring about protection against cancers of intestine and female breast
  • Makes bone strong, protecting from osteoporosis
  • protect against diabetes and heart diseases by removing the fat inside our abdomen
  • improves the action of insulin hormone thus protecting against diabetes, heart diseases and syndrome “X”
  • specifically increases the good type of cholesterol (HDL) and reduces the bad type of cholesterol (LDL)
  • directly protects the heart by increasing its efficiency

How much should we exercise, at what intensity, for how long and how frequently?

Level of hardness of exercise:

  1. Mild intensity
  2. Moderate intensity
  3. Heavy exercise
  4. Very heavy
  5. Unduly heavy

Example of various intensity of exercise

  1. Mild intensity exercise: -walking at the speed of 5 to 5.5 km per hour.

– golf, slow pace walk

– leisure pace badminton or table tennis

– cycling 10 to 12 km in an hour.

  1. Moderate intensity exercise –

-walking at 5 km to 7 km per hour.

-Swimming at 20 meters per minute.

-Golf at brisk pace

-Competitive level badminton

-Competitive level tennis

-Cycling 15 to 17 km/hour

-Non competitive basketball and other field games

  1. Heavy intensity exercise

-Jogging and walking covering 7 to 7.5 km/hour

-Swimming 25-30 meter/min

-Cycling 18-20 km/hour

-Leisure level squash


  1. Very heavy intensity exercise

-Jogging covering 8-9.6 km/hr

-Match level singles of badminton/tennis

-Swimming 30-35 meter/min

-Brisk, competitive level field games

-Competitive squash

  1. Unduly heavy intensity exercise

-Professional level of competitive squash

-Swimming 40 meter/min


Exercise how many days a week and how long during a day?


  1. Mild intensity exercise
  • 7 days a week
  • 1 hour per day
  1. Moderate intensity exercise
  • 5 to 7 days a week
  • 45 -60 minutes each day
  1. Heavy exercise
  • 4 to 6 days a week
  • 30-45 minutes each day
  1. Very heavy and unduly heavy exerxise
  • 3 to 4 days a week
  • 20-30 minutes per day



What about wight training?


Weight training gives you additional benefits

  • You may undertake 2 to 3 sessions in a week.
  • Exercise all major muscle groups (chest, arms, forearms, shoulders, back, thighs and legs)
  • Use 20 to 30 lbs for each muscle group
  • Do 3 sets, each set having 8 to 10 repetitions for each major muscle group


Warming up and cooling down

Start any exercise session with 5 minutes of warm up (stretching exercises of yoga)

Similarly wind up the exercise session with 5 minutes of cool down (gentle walking , yoga, gentle stretching)


Prevention of obesity

  • the various food item that we eat (or drink except water) give us energy (calories)

if we take in more calories than we can spend, the excess energy gets stored in our body as fat and reflects outwardly as obesity.

  • The basic principle that needs to be noted is that we do not eat because we need energy; primarily we eat to satisfy our hunger, to get a feeling of satiety.
  • Now satiety depends on the bulk of food and not really on the energy content of the food.
  • So, if we eat a food which has large bulk but low amount of calories, we will get enough satiety but push in lesser calories as compared to when we eat food which has lot of calories (so called “high energy density” foods.)

Example of low energy density foods

Clear soups, fresh vegetables (except potatoes), fresh fruits (except banana), rice, pulses, chapatti, idli, sambar, baked fish/chicken.

Examples of high density foods

All foods which are  creamed, fried, gravied or sugared.

Which food item should be avoided:

  • Sugary food
  • Fried food
  • Thick gravies
  • Whole milk and milk products
  • Food with high salt content

Which food items should be encouraged

  • Fresh fruits
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Low fat milk
  • Low fat meat
  • Grams, porridges, pulses, legumes


How much cooking oil and ghee should we consume?

As a general guideline, we should consume not more than 1 to 1.25 litres per adult per month.


Which cooking oil is healthy for the heart?

Truly speaking, no oil is healthy. They are only bad, worse and worst.

Saturated fat(ghee, butter, hydrogenated oils, coconut oil) are the worst.

So best is to use vegetable oils, within the limits as recommended.


How much salt should we eat?

Not more than 6 grams per person per day.


How much fruits and vegetables?

  • 500 grams of fresh fruits and vegetables per person per day.




Tobacco (whether smoking or chewing) is a major cause of serious disease and suffering

Cancer of lungs, mouth, windpipe, heart disease, bronchitis etc are caused by tobacco.

There is no bargaining as far as tobacco is concerned. The only medical recommendation is to stop.



Like tobacco, alcohol causes a large number of serious diseases example cancers of mouth and stomach, liver disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes etc.

Avoid alcohol, but if you still decide to drink then keep within the limits of moderation.

By moderation it is meant that not more than 3 small pegs in a day for men and not more than 2 small pegs  a day for women.


Managing stress

  • Undertake regular, brisk physical exercise, it is one of the best stress busters.
  • Pray for 10 minutes in morning and evening, it is definitely a great stress reliever.
  • Practice any form of meditation for 10 minutes
  • Practice abdominal breathing when faced with sudden stressful situations.
  • Spend at least 1 to 2 hours of quality time with your family members.