Thursday, 15 February 2018

Can one cigarette a day cause a heart attack or stroke?

Moderation is the key to long-term success, is a line I often use with my patients (and try and apply to my life too). However, there is one area, where moderation does not work, and that's for smoking. Most smokers accept that they have a problem, but are so addicted to the habit that, when I counsel them to quit, they will try and rationalize with me (and themselves) how a cigarette once in a while won’t hurt them. They also try to convince me that since they were smoking 15 cigarettes a day earlier, wouldn’t it be okay if they cut it down to five cigarettes a day. My answer to them is a well-rehearsed one, since I have said it a hundred times. I tell them, it’s like asking me whether it’s better to jump off the fifteenth floor of a building, or jump off the fifth floor! They usually get the message.

Last month, a study was published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) which underscored this point. (Click here for study abstract). Researchers looked at studies from 1946 to 2015, and found that smoking one cigarette a day was associated with a 48% to 74%  increase in the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in men, a 57% to 119% increase in CHD risk for women, and a roughly 30% increase in the risk of stroke for both men and women.

The conclusions of the study, were:

Smoking only about one cigarette per day carries a risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke much greater than expected: around half that for people who smoke 20 per day. No safe level of smoking exists for cardiovascular disease. Smokers should aim to quit instead of cutting down to significantly reduce their risk of these two common major disorders.
Benefits of quitting:
It’s never too late to quit smoking. It does not matter how long you’ve been smoking, the moment you quit your risk starts dropping. In fact, the benefits start from the minute you extinguish your last cigarette. Within the first hour your heart rate and blood pressure drop and the carbon monoxide level in your blood returns to normal. Over time your risk for heart attack, stroke and cancer starts dropping steadily towards that of a non-smoker. Of course, this information should not be used by you as a license to continue smoking with the thought that you will give it up one day in the future and recover all of your lost health. Remember, once there is build-up of plaque in your arteries, it can lead to a heart attack any time it ruptures. Smoking is one of the key factors that can precipitate plaque rupture, which is why even one cigarette can be harmful in the setting of blockages. It’s similar to standing on the edge of a cliff. Even a slight push may be enough to topple you over; in the same way, one cigarette may be the final straw that broke the camel’s back (no, not the cigarette brand, Camel).

Last para excerpted from my book, The Heart Truth 

Thursday, 25 January 2018


Let me begin with two disclaimers: I ran the 2018 Tata Mumbai Marathon on Jan 21, in 3:40:01, which is 2 seconds above the sub 3:40, in the title. Secondly, the title is worded in this manner, since it’s a ‘search term’, often typed into Google, and allows people to find articles, such as this. By no means, do I purport to be a guru of guiding people below specific timing goals, after having done it only once in my life (thus far…).

In January 2017, I completed the Mumbai Marathon in 3:54 hours, clocking the exact same time as I had done the previous year, and was quite disappointed. By itself the time was respectable, but I wasn’t elated, since my training was in tune with a better run, and I was injury-free. After the ritual download of my Garmin data, I noticed a strange pattern in both runs (2016 and 2017)- there was a dramatic drop in pace, post 32 km (20 miles). It didn’t need me to look at data to figure that out, since I had clearly suffered for the last 10 k on both runs, but what surprised me was the extent of the drop. In both instances, I was cruising along at an average pace of 5:15 min/km, till 32 km and then wham- the pace dropped by more than a minute per km after that. I’m embarrassed to say, that the obvious, didn’t strike me, which is that I’d hit the proverbial wall. It needed my friend Daniel Vaz, who’s an experienced running coach, to point it out to me.

After the 2017 run, I decided to take an off-season from running (which sounds unnecessarily grand, considering I didn’t have too much of a season to begin with), which extended till the end of August. I knew I had 4.5 months before the next marathon, and decided to go in with a better plan than the previous years, which would mostly centre around not bonking (a more colourful term for ‘hitting the wall’), in the last 10 km. I’m not going to bore you with the weekly mileage details, but want to highlight the key points, which I felt worked for me.

Finish line picture- at the 2017 Mumbai Marathon - with my daughter

1.       Make a plan and stick to it

I know that this is stating the obvious, but it shocks me as to how many runners train for the marathon, without a plan. All marathon training plans, should be based on gradual progression of running volume, and should include the following 3 components.

a.       The long run-This is the foundation of the training program, and refers to distances ranging from 12-35 km, in gradual progression and is done at a comfortable pace, which is usually 30-60 seconds slower than race pace. I ran my long runs at 5:45 min/km, since my goal was to complete the marathon sub 3:45, a pace of 5:15 min/km.

b.      Interval training-running distances between 400-1600 m, at close to all-out pace helps increase your VO2 max (your aerobic power), and gets you used to sustaining a fast pace at the end of your long runs, even when the muscles and spirit are flagging. My goal was to run 400 m in 1 min 40 secs, and the longer intervals, at multiples of that.

c.       Easy runs- as the name implies, these are done at a relaxed pace, a couple of times a week, to build mileage in your legs.

In addition to these, there are tempo runs, race pace runs, and fartleks, but the idea is not to get into the nitty-gritty of the plan, but just to outline it.

2.       Nutrition matters

As described above, I have had two experiences, of what I consider ‘hitting the wall’, and they weren’t pleasant. The feeling I had at that time was one where my legs seemed fine, breathing seemed fine, but I just felt that there wasn’t any ‘energy’ in the body to move it forward. That made me go back to the drawing board and look at how much carbohydrate I needed to supplement during the run. Yes, I still use old fashioned carbs, since they are the primary source of energy during running. Over the past few years, theories abound on getting to teach your body to be a better fat oxidizer, since theoretically fat in the form of stored triglycerides is a limitless source of energy. On the other hand, stored glycogen is good for about 2,000 cal worth of exercise, roughly translating to 20 miles or 32 km. The bulk of the data at present, still supports the use of carbs as a ‘performance fuel’, and I’m sticking to it, till there is different evidence.
My strategy consisted of getting in about 45 gm of carbs per hour of running, divided between a sports drink and supplemental carbs in the form of ‘gummy sweets’, since I find the taste of gels hard to handle after the first two. As I approached the 32 km mark, I was psychologically getting prepared to get slammed, but luckily it didn’t happen, and I do believe that the nutrition and fuelling strategy worked.

3.       Think less about your ‘self’….to improve yourself

This is a quote I’ve taken from the book, Peak Performance, by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness. I read the book after my last marathon and found it full of insight, not only to improve running performance, but also to lead a better life. I highly recommend it to everyone.  Let me explain what this headline meant in relation to my race. My long time running partner, Cyrus Mehta, was on song this year. He needed to run 3:40 to qualify for the Boston marathon, in his age category. Now, for those of you who are running nerds, you’ll know what a big deal a BQ (Boston qualifying) is. For the past few months, I’ve been convinced and trying to convince Cyrus, that this would be a cinch for him this year, given his level of preparation. I was as keen on him getting that time, as I was in getting a 3:45. As usual, Cy took off like a rocket and I didn’t see him till just before the sea link. On the link, I kept looking at my Garmin (well, unfortunately I keep looking at it all the time), and wanted to finish the first half in 1:48, so that Cy had a great springboard to achieve the BQ. The time I had set for myself, was actually 1:50. Cyrus is a much stronger runner than me, so when he overtook me at the 26 km mark, I didn’t make an attempt to keep up. Well, to cut a long story short, thanks to pacing him, I had enough time in the bank to complete it in 3:40, even though my goal was a full five minutes longer.

Post-script: runners tend to be obsessive about their ‘timing’ and I’m no different. I tried to behave myself this year and promised to look down less at my Garmin. And what was the result- I didn’t look at it for the last km, and finished two seconds over a sub-3:40 time. Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous, to even talk about it, considering I bettered my previous best by more than 14 mins, but hey, if you’ve read the whole article thus far, you’re probably in the same category. On that note, I’m signing off. Have a great running year, and wave if we cross paths on the road. 

Last km of this year's run

From L to R - Deepankar,Deepa (podium finisher), myself, Cyrus, Rox the Boss, and Ali

Friday, 5 July 2013

The Medical Profession has Lost its Allure. Yet its ability to touch lives is unmatched.

This is an article I wrote for Outlook Magazine (July 1, 2013) on the medical profession. I have copied it below, and here is the link to the original article:

Lighter Medicine Chests

The medical profession has lost its allure. Yet its ability to touch lives is unmatched.

“My daughter just topped her entrance exams, but thank God, she does not want to be a doctor.” Coming from anyone, this may sound a bit strange, but when it’s spoken by one of the most successful physicians in the city, one really needs to sit up and take notice. When I heard my close friend utter these words over a Sunday evening coffee, my curiosity was aroused. His reasoning was quite simple—he had spent the better part of his life studying medicine, from graduation to post-graduation to super-specialisation, and by the time he was truly ready for practice, he was on the wrong side of forty.

Even then, to be successful was a str­uggle, esp­ecially since he decided to pursue the ethical route. On the other hand, he pointed to our friends who had made their first million before 30, and were in semi-retirement on their 40th birthday, since they pursued a career in fin­­ance. But, I argued, what about all the good you are doing and the gratitude you get from pat­ients? Isn’t that the best benefit of a noble pro­fession? “Nobility does not pay my bills”, was his pat reply.

Around the time I completed my 12th grade, the brightest took up medicine or engineering, irrespective of aptitude. Thankfully, that has cha­nged, and stu­dents have more options. Over time, the glamour and prestige of medicine has diminis­hed; no more is it the automatic cho­ice of top students. Partly, it’s due to the red­­u­ced ava­ilability of ‘merit’ seats in gov­ernment colleges and increasing fees in private institutions. Con­stantly changing policies on the duration of com­pulsory rural service, as well as adm­ission to post-graduate courses, make it even less attractive. Post-graduate courses in spe­­ci­alisations, such as radiology, can cost upwa­rds of one crore rupees, and make sense only to those who have a business in the field or intend turning it into a business (and then we wonder about ethics!).

So, is there a silver lining amidst all this gloom? There certainly is. At the risk of delivering a cliche, I must admit that the look of hope on a pat­ient’s face as you hold their hand, or the joy on a relative’s face when you tell them that their loved one is out of danger, is worth all the money in the world. As doctors, we have the ability to touch people’s lives as no other profession can.
If you join medicine for money, then you are in the wrong profession. Before you point to all the doctors that drive BMWs, do remember that those are a minuscule fraction. Medical practice in India is such that 80 per cent of all the work (especially surgeries) is done by 20 per cent of the doctors.  Those few are certainly well off, but the average doctor will earn far less than his com­patriots in other parts of the world, even in relative terms. The reason is that healthcare in India is relatively inexpensive. With changing eco­­nomics, people are comfortable spending Rs 10,000 or more on beauty treatments, but begr­udge a doctor his Rs 1,500 consultation fees.

Of course, all doctors are not angels floating around, waiting to dart down and provide their healing touch. The reality is that malpractice does exist and often medical decisions and opinions are not carried out in the patients’ best inte­rest. However, in spite of all its pitfalls and dubious practices, the medical profession retains a touch of nobility that is worth preserving. Just make sure, you don’t enter it to get that BMW.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013


Legend has is that a Greek soldier by the name of Pheidippides, ran from the plains of Marathon to Athens, to announce that the Greeks had just defeated the Persians, in 490 BC.  The distance he ran was 42.2 kilometers, which has then become the official distance of a ‘marathon’.  Legend also has it that after announcing the victory, he collapsed and died.  2500 years later on February 24, 2013 a brave citizen of Bombay ran the half marathon in Thane, and at the end of the race he proudly collected his medal.  After receiving his coveted prize, like Pheidippides, he too collapsed and died, despite intense efforts to revive him by the doctors present there.
Historians contested this version of Pheidippides, and in fact later discovered that he had run well over 450 km, over a ten day spell and was instrumental in saving the battle for the Greeks.  Unfortunately, for our Bombay Braveheart (I am not naming him, in respect for privacy), and his family his death is undisputed, and I extend my deepest sympathies to his family and friends.

As is to be expected, this running death has created grave concern within the running fraternity of Mumbai, of which I consider myself an integral part (both, as a runner and as the Medical Director of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon).  In the media, and in the running community I have encountered polarized views on the risks of long distance running.  One view is that exercise in general, and running in particular is extremely healthy, and therefore cannot be harmful by any means.  The opposite view is that running is dangerous and if one wants to exercise, nothing beats a leisurely walk.  In my opinion, neither of these views is absolutely true, since this is a complex topic and needs a deeper understanding rather than knee-jerk one-liners.  The purpose of this article is to try and shed some more light on the risk associated with marathon running.

Before we begin, I would like to clarify that this article is not about the benefits and risk of exercise in general.  The health benefits of exercise have been unequivocally established, and these benefits very clearly outweigh the risks.  Also, this article deals with running  half and full marathons, and not distances beyond that.  There is new literature emerging on the cardiovascular effects of ultramarathons, which can be discussed separately.


In 2012, a study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, titled ‘Cardiac Arrest during Long-Distance Running Races’. This looked at the incidence of cardiac arrests in marathon and half-marathon races in the United States from 2000 to 2010, and included 10.9 million runners.  In that entire period there were 59 sudden cardiac arrests, of which 42 were fatal.
Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. When this happens, blood flow to the brain and other vital organs stops, and can lead to death if not treated within minutes.  In fact, this year at the SCMM marathon we had a sudden cardiac arrest, and due to a combination of luck and medical preparedness we were able to save the runner (for more on that, read here:

The following is the information we learned from the Cardiac Arrest study:

  1. Cardiovascular disease accounted for the majority of these cardiac arrests and deaths
  2. The incidence of arrests was significantly higher during full-marathons than half-marathons, and was higher among men than women
  3. The incidence rate of cardiac arrest during half and full marathons was 1 per 184,00 runners
  4. The incidence rate of death during half and full marathons was 1 per 259,000 runners
  5. The commonest cause of death was hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

According to official figures, about 10 deaths take place on the Mumbai suburban railway network each day, and approximately 7 million commuters travel each day. This translates into 1 death per 700,000 commuters. In other words, the risk of dying during marathon running is a little more than double that of taking a ride on the Mumbai local trains!  I know this is not a fair or scientific comparison, and I do not mean to trivialize even a single death, but the idea is to put the risk in perspective, which in absolute terms is very low.



The two most common causes of death found during this study, as well as others looking at exercise and acute cardiovascular events were:

  1. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  2. Atherosclerotic coronary artery diseases (blockages in the arteries)

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) has been defined as a primary disease of the myocardium (the muscle of the heart) in which a portion of the myocardium is hypertrophied (thickened) without any obvious cause (source: Wikipedia).
It has been well established that among young individuals, less than 30 years of age, HCM and other birth related (congenital) abnormalities are the main cause of cardiovascular events.

It was also thought that in athletes over the age of 30, atherosclerotic coronary artery disease (which is just the scientific way of saying ‘blockages in the heart arteries’) is the most frequent cause of cardiac arrest and death.  Vigorous exertion was thought to lead to rupture of the blockage, leading to clot formation, which leads to an abnormal heart rhythm knows as ventricular fibrillation and ultimately death.

The surprising finding in the New England study was that HCM was also the leading cause of death in the population studied during the ten years of marathon running, including the older runners.  Several of the deaths were due to a combination of HCM and blockages in the arteries.


Besides the cardiovascular causes, hyponatremia (low sodium level in the blood), and hyperthermia accounted for a total of about 10 percent of the deaths.  These remain important concerns during long distance running but are not common causes of death.


This is clearly the most important question at the end of it all.  In my opinion, risk can be reduced by taking care of the following:

  1. Pre-participation health check
  2. Paying heed to warning signs
  3. Sensible and appropriate training programs
  4. Medical facilities available during races

Pre-Participation health check:

Before you read any further, it is important to acknowledge that the human body is an extremely complex organism.  There is no definite testing protocol which can completely rule out risk, which is why you occasionally have the scenario of someone suffering an attack, even though they recently passed their medical evaluation with flying colours. Having said that, these are the tests I recommend, and the reason for each:

  1. ECG: this is certainly not a perfect test, but is a great starting point to give a basic indication of your heart function. It’s a great test to pick up HCM
  2. Fasting sugar, lipid profile, blood pressure, body mass index and weight circumference: all of these will give an indication of your ‘cardiac risk profile’.
  3. Stress test: one can debate the necessity of a stress test, but I would recommend it for two reasons.  It’s a great indicator of your cardiovascular fitness, if nothing else and may indicate the presence of blockages in your arteries.  One can criticize it for two reasons too: blockages show up on the stress test only when they reach a certain size and are ‘obstructive’ to the flow of blood. Often, there are smaller plaques which are the ones that actually rupture and cause the attack. Also, stress tests often show up ‘false positive’ tests, wherein no abnormality exists even though the test is abnormal (for some strange reason, doctors call it ‘positive’ when it is abnormal).  Let the physician conducting the test know that you are a marathon runner and to allow you to carry out the test till you reach maximal fatigue.
  4. 2 D- echo: this is a great test to assess  heart valve functioning, and the pumping capacity of your heart muscles. It’s also a great test to rule out HCM. It is relatively expensive, and if you are younger and asymptomatic I guess it would be fine to just do a simple ECG.

The most important part of the evaluation is to consult with a physician who ‘understands’ exercise and the kind of program you hope to embark upon.  In addition to the above tests, your medical and family history is vital.  Data from individual tests do not have as much meaning as the combined risk profile.

Warning Signs:

Several studies have shown that individuals who experienced cardiac events during exercise, often had mild warning signs and symptoms, which they or their physician chose to ignore.  The most common of these, which occurred a week before their arrest were (as reported by friends and families):

  1. Chest pain
  2. Increasing fatigue
  3. Indigestion / heartburn /gastrointestinal symptoms
  4. Excessive breathlessness
  5. Ear or neck pain

Appropriate training programs:

All exercise programs should be progressed gradually.  Most arrests and deaths occur in individuals who participate without adequate preparation or those who ramp up their training exponentially.  At the end of vigorous physical exertion it is important to cool down appropriately (something which most of us, including myself do not do), since reduced blood supply to the heart may be exacerbated by abrupt cessation of activity.  This is the reason that runners often collapse immediately after finishing an intense race.

Medical facilities on race day:

It goes without saying that adequate medical facilities should be available during long distance runs, especially those exceeding 10 km.  In addition to medical facilities, I personally feel that every runner should take it upon himself or herself to learn the technique of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). In the event of a cardiac arrest, good CPR can be life-saving.


Long distance running can be a safe and enjoyable sport with considerable health benefits.  There is a small amount of risk involved which can be kept to a  minimum by making sure you undergo a ‘running-specific’ health check, train sensibly and pay heed to warning signs and symptoms should they occur.


1. Cardiac Arrest Duing Long-distance Running Races. Kim et al, NEJM 2012;366:130-140
2. Exercise and Acute Cardiovascular Events: American Heart Association Scientific Statement: Circulation 2007;115:2358-2368

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Straight from the heart: Personal accounts of the Bravehearts who ran the 2013 Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon

There is an inexplicable sweetness in setting a lofty goal for yourself and achieving it.  After all the accolades of your family, friends and peers have settled down what remains with you is the quite sense of achievement. But what happens, when you are not able to achieve the goal you have set, even after trying with all your heart?
The first few moments, and even the first few days after your 'disappointment' can drag you down, and in spite of all the consolatory comments of the same band of supporters, it is hard to shake off that losing feeling.  However, after all the dust has settled down, and you sit down and analyze the course of events, you may end up realizing that the adversity that you went through has made you even stronger, and considering the situation, you ended up a winner.

Here are the stories of a few of our Bravehearts from the Cardiac Health and Rehabilitation Center at the Asian Heart Institute (Mumbai), all of whom have heart disease and ran the half marathon in the 2013 Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon.  Most of them tell a tale of heroic courage in the face of great pain, and all of them are looking forward to take a crack at the run in 2014.

My Run and Pain: How I confronted and conquered it

The day finally dawned after a year of hard training and injury. Woke up at 3.45 am to a warm morning. Had a steaming coffee, cleared my mind and told myself to give the race all I have as the next few hours was what the whole year was about.
The run started, with me doing the 80/20 ratio (run:walk) and maintaining a good speed. At 8 km my watch read 58m instead of 61m as per my practice time, felt good! There was a crowd cheering when we got off the sea link. Makes you feel that you are a hero and the world has come out for you, a great uplifting feeling. Of which I saw the result at 10 km when the watch read 73m, little did I realize what was in store! At Worli dairy the pain came up, I stopped running and walked and prayed for the pain to go away. Tried running after a while, the pain became excruciating. Knew I could not run and would have to walk the balance distance. A painful decision when you gave this day your whole year. When pushed the heart and mind can work like there is no tomorrow. Got myself to a resolve that I will not give up inspite of the pain and started walking like I have never done before. A few times I actually overtook people who were jogging! Now the cheers of Run Mumbai run were hurting me, but, kept my mind focused on what lay in front of me and how I had to conquer the same with severe limitations. At Babulnath the African pack thundered past me on the opposite side, maybe someday I will like them, but today it was a difficult and different challenge. I was walking at a good pace, alone with my pain and fears and finally could barely run past the finish line at 2h 41m 30s a full four minutes less than last year. I was hurting physically and demoralized. It took me a full 24 hours to realize that considering what I was up against the outcome was pretty good. I was proud the way I faced and dealt with it and finished faster than last year.  
The race has left me braver and wiser to the point that Life is going to throw tough challenges at me but will have to rise above them, I did on Sunday, and will try to do so always.


I did manage to complete the marathon but this will be the 5th one but the worst one till now . I have injured my knee during last week’s badminton game, for which I had taken pain killers and applied ice.  I even did 30 minutes running in treadmill on the 17th ,that was before the marathon and nothing happened then.  So I took the challenge and participated in the marathon ,which I think has been a mistake on hindsight . I ran the marathon for more than 9 /10 kms but after that my knee gave way and ended up in severe pain, everytime I took a running step .
I walked the distance after that and completed and hence took nearly 3 hrs 40 minutes !!!
I am ashamed of my timing when i was sure of doing better than the last marathon timings and have my garmin records to prove was not  to  be !!!
 Now I am determined to get the knee examined and try to run the 21 kms within a month or two. Of course all will depend on the reports ..
I thank You, Dr Kiran and Dr Priyanka for all the help and support

Before the start of the Race my target was to finish within 2 Hours and I had decided to stick to the group of 2-Hour Bus. When we started at 5.40 AM, it was pleasant, and the air was cool. Keeping earlier year’s experience in mind, I was carrying Half ltr. bottle of electral to avoid dehydration. I was feeling quite comfortable till the Jaslok Hospital incline. My left ankle started giving me trouble around that time. I slowed down a bit, walked for 1-2 minutes and again continued my run. But that point onwards I could not catch up with the group running with 2 Hour-Bus. Due to ankle pain I could not dare to increase my speed beyond certain level. Ultimately I finished my race in 122.34 minutes. Since I was not carrying Stop Watch, I thought my timing was 121 minutes. Maybe next year I will finish it within 2 Hours.

I must thank Team AHIRC for their continued support and encouragement without which it would have been difficult for people like us, ex-Heart Patients, to get over traumatic experience of earlier years and become physically Fit. That is the reason I prefer to run with Team AHIRC rather than with my Bank’s Team which also participates in Mumbai Marathon. I hope to continue my association with AHIRC for ever.

Thanks for the encouragement and guidance, due which I could attempt and complete, for the first time in my life, a half marathon.  I could not practice as much as I wanted to due to sciatica in my right leg and pain in left knee which surfaced after the 21km practice run at BKC, on 15Dec. Subsequently, I did manage 3 bouts of 10km, including the Powai Marathon on 02Jan, apart from shorter ones, but this was not enough strengthening, as I found myself tiring out and loosing steam around the 15 km mark on the slopes of Pedder Rd.

My target was to keep it below 3h, but lost out by 3mt and 29 sec.  I could not attain my target of 8km in the first hr due to to bunching up on the sea link. And then I missed Mr Venkat’s 3 hr bus as we exited onto Marine Drive.  Positives are that there was  no injury, undue pain and I am back to running, after a days rest. Now I know that I need to be regular thru out the year and will be aiming for 2:45hr in 2014.

Congratulations to ALL !!

As decided earlier I was going to walk with my wife Malini entire Marathon. IT was cool on marathon day. This year as marathon was to start early it was nice and pleasant early in the morning. Though previous day was cold. I was walking casually and Malini was on speed walk she has to pace with me. On sea link we over took one physically handicapped person. He had Jaipur leg. He was with one companion. He used to fast walk some distance and than slow down and walk slowly. This gave malini boost that when his man can do it even I can complete. This was there till Lotus and after that we were ahead of them. Even on sea link visually blind man ran past us. He too was with one companion. I was enjoying my walk along. At worli we were greeted by Mr. Vikas Desai. Crowd on the way were cheering  participants offering biscuits, oranges, sweets, home made soft drinks and glasses of mineral water. On the way Asian Heart staff at respective medical camp were very helpful and were cheering participants. After crossing furnishing line I hugged Malini that she has finished without any injury though she has injury on her right shoulder. It was great moment for us.

Tks a lot for your and your teams support. Ours was one of the few teams, where all happily finished.
I started a bit slow to avoid crowd. It was nice cool climate  so sea link was v. Enjoyable. Till lotus cinema, I was with the 2.30hr bus but then slipped may be due to wet/uneven surface. I continued slow jogging till cadbury house. As the home run approached I became a bit more confident & started fast up pedder rd slope and  that was mistake, and I  slowed & started walking, and a angel tapped from the back saying, “run run”. Gathered breath started jog till wilson collage. Slight pain started in right knee so slowed(walk/jog) till jazz by bay where used pain killer spray got boost from my respected trainer. I continued slowly till the finish enjoying my run as I understood that I was behind my planed timing with little pain in my knee which was damaged in early 90s due to my bike stunts. Last 2 runs I never had right knee pain don't know where it came from but today its gone. Went for a nice walk this morning enjoying cool Bombay climate which is GODs gift for  runners.
(The angel who tapped fm behind was non but our own Roshni fm AH family)

Monday, 4 February 2013

Weight-Loss Myths Refuted in New Review

No topic in the world of health and fitness excites as much comment or discussion as weight loss. Consequently, most of us have several firm beliefs in our head on 'what works' and what does not. However, as you will read below, many of these beliefs are only half-truths and often are downright false. A special article published in one of the most respected medical journals, was published a few days back which debunked many of the myths. These myths are listed below, and I have added 'my take' to each of them, for what its worth!

The findings were published online January 31 in a special article in the New England Journal of Medicine. Here is a link to the article, but you need to be a member to read the whole article:

The below article on the subject has been pasted from, and the full link for the article is below.

The authors discuss a total of 7 myths, along with refuting evidence. Here are some examples:

Small changes in food intake and/or exercise will produce large, long term weight changes — This idea was based on the old idea that 3500 kcal equals 1 pound of weight. But it does not take into account the fact that energy requirements change as body mass changes over time. So, as weight is lost, it takes increasingly more exercise and reduced intake to perpetuate the loss.

My take: In other words, as you begin losing weight you will need to curb your caloric intake further and / or increase your caloric output to continue losing weight at the same pace.

Realistic weight-loss goals will keep people motivated — This idea seems reasonable, but it is not supported by evidence. In fact, several studies have shown that people with very ambitious goals lose more weight (eg, TV's The Biggest Loser).

My take: Actually, I used to believe in realistic and gradual weight loss goals too, and still do, but with a caveat. I have realized that for those who are very heavy (say, at least 30 kg above ideal body weight), gradual weight loss does not work. One of the reasons, in my opinion, is that a 6-8 kg weight loss (which may take a few months, when done 'sensibly') usually, does not show on the person, and no one notices. I feel, that positive feedback and 'wow' comments from near and dear ones go a long way in keeping up motivation, and often gradual weight loss does not lead to that.

Slow, gradual weight loss is best for long-term success — Actually, a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled weight-loss trials found that rapid weight loss via very-low-calorie diets resulted in significantly more weight loss (16% vs 10% of body weight) at 6 months, and differences in weight loss persisted up to 18 months (Int J Behav Med. 2010;17:161-167).

My take: I am surprised to know that the weight loss persisted up to 18 months. Will need to read the entire article to be satisfied on this one.

A bout of sexual activity burns 100 to 300 kcal per person — With intense sexual activity, a 154-pound man burns approximately 3.5 kcal per minute. However, given that the average amount of time spent during one stimulation and orgasm session is about 6 minutes, this man might expend about 21 kcal total. But, he would burn about 7 kcal per minute just lying on the couch, so that amount has to be subtracted, which gives a grand total of 14 kcals of energy expended.

My take: So much for all the 'studs' who thought they were getting a great workout between the sheets.

The article also explores 6 "presumptions," or widely accepted beliefs that are neither proven nor disproven. Among them:

Eating breakfast prevents obesity — Actually, 2 studies showed no effect of eating vs skipping breakfast.

Adding fruits and vegetables to the diet results in weight loss — Adding more calories of any type without making any other changes is likely to cause weight gain. Eating fruits and vegetables is healthful, however.

Weight cycling, aka "yoyo dieting," increases mortality — The data are from observational studies and likely confounded by health status.

Finally, the authors offer 9 facts about obesity and weight loss that are supported by data, among them:

Moderate environmental changes can promote as much weight loss as even the best weight-loss drugs.

Diets do produce weight loss, but attempting to diet and telling someone to diet are not necessarily the same thing.

Physical activity does help in promoting weight loss and has health benefits even in the absence of weight loss.

For overweight children, involving the family and home environment in weight-loss efforts is ideal.

Providing actual meals or meal replacements works better for weight loss than does general advice about food choices.

Both weight-loss drugs and bariatric surgery can help achieve long-term weight loss in some individuals.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Sugary Drinks and Post-meal Walks: Weekly News Round Up

Jan 28, 2013
In the past week, two studies were released, which are of interest, though they only reinforced knowledge we already have. I will present the studies, followed by 'My take (-home message) on it'

The first looked at sugary drinks, what we commonly refer to as 'cold or soft drinks'.

New meta-analysis on sugar sparks old debate

Cutting consumption of sugar produces a small but significant reduction in body weight for adults, a new meta-analysis concludes. The study found was published by Dr Lisa Te Morenga (University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand) and colleagues in their paper published online January 15, 2013 in BMJ.
The review is accompanied by an editorial by Dr Walter C Willett (Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA) and Dr David S Ludwig (New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center, Boston Children's Hospital, MA), which concludes that the tide is beginning to turn against sugar, with evidence continuing to accumulate that it is indeed deleterious to health.
"It's clear that sugar does have adverse effects, particularly in liquid form as sugar-sweetened drinks," Willett told heartwire. "This study addresses a piece of the picture, the effect on weight gain. There is also a strong body of evidence showing that sugar-sweetened beverages are related to type 2 diabetes.  But the question remains as to what is a desirable limit, they note. Current intake of added sugar in the US and UK is about 15% of total energy, so the 2003 World Health Organization (WHO) aim of limiting intake to 10% "could be viewed as a realistic and practical goal." However, the American Heart Association (AHA) suggests a limit of 5% of energy, "which would be more consistent with a goal for optimal health," they point out.

This information was taken from The full article can be accessed by clicking on the link below.

My Take-home message:

Sugary drinks, be it soft drinks, such as colas, or sweetened juices, do not really have any health benefits. At best, they are empty calories, and at worst they are agents promoting overweight and diabetes.  Luckily in India, the soft-drink culture has not yet invaded the country to the extent it has in the west. A recent survey in the US showed that the average daily consumption was more than a drink a day (about 400-500 ml) 
Growing up in the 70's (now I am dating myself), a soft drink was a special treat, and I think we need to go back to viewing it as such.  

Light exercise can reduce postprandial triglycerides

Brisk walking followed by some resistance training an hour after eating can suppress the postprandial elevation in triglyceride levels, research suggests. When compared with the elevated levels that occur following a meal, triglyceride levels decreased 72% after a combined exercise program of walking and light resistance training, report investigators.
In contrast, brisk walking and resistance training prior to eating decreased triglyceride levels 25%.
Authors:  Dr Wataru Aoi (Kyoto Prefectural University, Kyoto, Japan) and colleagues in the February 2013 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

This information was taken from The full article can be accessed by clicking on the link below.

My Take-home message:

An after-meal walk has many benefits, and reducing triglycerides is one of them.  However, the regimen used in this study- a 2-km walk followed by squats, shoulder presses, push-ups, and leg raises, among other resistance exercises- is certainly not a practical or sustainable solution.  I would recommend sticking to your usual exercise routine, and not changing it based on this information.  The post-walk meal can be a leisurely 10-15 minute stroll, which will aid digestion and help burn a small amount of calories.