Malaysians should be more active..... like these outdoor enthusiasts. -- Photo from blog.malaysia-asia.my
By Wan Shahara Ahmad Ghazali
KUALA LUMPUR: The modern lifestyle that literally means a sedentary lifestyle to most people today is the source of numerous health woes.
Life goes by sitting and watching television, reading, idling, sleeping, spending hours in front of the computer, eating and indulging in video games, all without much mobility.
Routine exercise and outdoor activities seem to be the privilege of a few.
A recent study provided a clearer snapshot of Malaysians' sedentary ways, with three out of every four Malaysians doing more mental work than physical work.
This already unhealthy lifestyle is further compounded by the fact many Malaysians prefer food rich in fats and cholesterol and less in fiber - beef/lamb steak, pizza with different layers of cheese or the pasta.
With better life expectancy, thanks to modern medicine, Malaysia will have 3.4 million people above 60 by 2020 and this is a cause of concern as many Malaysians are leading a unhealthy lifestyle now and the implications will be seen when they get older.
Awareness on good health important
Malaysians have every reason to worry over their unhealthy lifestyle that makes them vulnerable to ailments, and especially when healthcare is getting costlier.
One of the outcome of an unhealthy lifestyle that manifests at old age is osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis, which literally means brittle bones, is difficult to detect until someone breaks a hip bone or the backbone, the obvious symptom of the disease.
Dr Chin Chee Howe, an orthopedic and trauma surgeon, noted that even a bone inspection x-ray would not be able to detect the problem until the bones shed up to 50 per cent of their mass.
Chin explained that the human body, regardless of the age, needs constant supply of calcium especially when looking at the fact that bones are living tissues that reabsorb the calcium and resynthesize new bones.
High risks women
Women face three times greater risk than men in suffering from osteoporosis, and thus it is pertinent that this group reviewed their unhealthy lifestyle.
In the natural state, women have less calcium in their bones and thus their bone mass is much lesser. They lose calcium due to unhealthy habits like smoking, eating less to keep their body shape or even due to pregnancy and menopause.
Longer life expectancy also contributes to the problem.
"Studies found that women in their late 60s with broken hip bones face five times greater mortality risk within a year due to the bones breaking or blood clot problems," explained Chin.
However, the reduction of bone mass is expected to continue and by 2050, more than 50 per cent of hip bone fractures are expected to occur in Asia.
"And it is going to be a big problem when looking at the high cost in managing and treating broken bones. Thus it is important to draw up an early strategy and carry out proactive steps in preserving their bones," said Chin.
Go on a healthy lifestyle
Life is definitely going to be tough for those who break their bones due to osteoporosis, ending up wheelchair-bound or bed-ridden.
So the best thing to do is to take preventive steps early.
Good diet and routine exercise helps one to attain the maximum bone mass by the age of 30.
The balanced diet that includes sufficient calcium, added with Vitamin D through the safe exposure to sunlight, magnesium from green vegetables and regular exercise help women in keeping away from the bone ravaging disease.
Chin suggests the easiest exercise to strengthen the bones - a brisk walk for 30 minutes daily or carry weight to help in the natural bone building process, other than consuming high calcium milk and dairy products.
"Physical activities are important to build and preserve bone mass to enable us to use the full potential of our bones, apart from rejuvenating our physical and mental health," he stressed, pointing out that high calcium milk and low fat yogurt are the best choice for women.
Nutritient for bones
On calcium intake, Chin said calcium rich food was more effective than the vast array of calcium supplements available in the market.
The foods that hold the key to good bone health are diary products, green vegetables, soy bean products like tofu and tempe, fish like sardine, salmon and tuna, and marine food.
What is more important is that everyone has to be aware of the health issues in old age and take preventive actions early.
Studies by a leading diary firm from New Zealand, Fonterra, found that a significant number of Malaysian women are aware why calcium is important to health but harbour the wrong notion that it is too early for them to worry over it. -- Bernama