Diet, Exercise and Meditation

Healthy body and healthy mind are inter-dependent. Meditation to keep mind
healthy and diet and exercise to keep body fit are age old recipes for
healthy life. U.S. government researchers report that depressed older
people are much more likely to decline physically, bolstering the notion
that mental well-being profoundly influences bodily health. The study, led
by scientists at the National Institute on Aging and published in this
week's Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests prevention
and treatment of depression could help the elderly live longer, more
active lives.  The researchers theorize that depression may lead to
physical decline by altering the immune, hormonal and nervous systems. One
theory says depression may prompt the release of hormones that suppress
the immune system, making the body more prone to debilitating illness.
More research is needed, they said, to determine if treatment for
depression, such as counseling and antidepressants, can prevent depression
and physical ailments from combining to cause this downward spiral.

Officials from the heart and lung institute lowered the threshold,
concluding that health risks can begin with a body mass index as low as
25. As body mass index levels go up, blood pressure and total cholesterol
levels also rise, increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some
cancers, the researchers said.  The guidelines are designed to give
patients and doctors ways to measure when a person's weight is hazardous.
They recommend that overweight people exercise and eat better to keep from
gaining additional weight. Diet drugs should be reserved for those with
body mass indexes of 30 or over, or people mass indexes of 27 but with
other risk factors such as diabetes or high blood pressure, the
researchers said.  In addition to measuring body mass index, the
guidelines advise doctors to measure their patients' waist circumference,
a measurement closely associated with the amount of abdominal fat and
another predictor of disease risk.

A waist circumference of more than 40 inches in men and more than 35
inches in women indicates an increased risk in people who have a body mass
index of between 25 to 34.9, the researchers say. To determine body mass
index, divide body weight (in kilograms) by height (in meters) squared. A
kilogram equals 2.2 pounds. A meter is 3.28 feet or about 39 inches.
Sreenivasarao Vepachedu, 06/04/98

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