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Picture of Health: Energy

by News7

“I’d finished second out of all the able-bodied kids that were there,” recalls sprinter Emmanuel Oyinbo-Coker, of the day a schoolteacher recognized his potential and set him on the pathway to professional athletics. “Now I’m representing Great Britain, I’ve won a Commonwealth gold medal, and the Paralympic medal is next!”

His excitement is both palpable and infectious. “My picture of health is energy,” he enthuses, explaining how the drive to live an active life can spread from person to person. “If someone is in good health, they tend to promote good health habits,” he reasons. And these are fundamental not only to living a longer life, but also to living a more active life for longer.

For British Para athlete Emmanuel Oyinbo-Coker, health is about energy—something he has in abundance.

Photograph by Annie Leibovitz

Even before we are born our bodies may be susceptible to a particular disease or disability: The genes we inherit might see us born with cystic fibrosis or predisposed to develop breast cancer. Then, through life, we are exposed to countless illnesses, injuries, and circumstances that can negatively impact our health. This makes proactively maintaining our physical well-being a priority, and there is a growing awareness of the many good habits we can embrace to stay healthy and energized.

Food is the essential fuel of body and brain, with a well-balanced diet critical to good health. A mix of enough protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, collectively called macronutrients, will provide much of the energy a person needs to keep active, as well as the nutrients needed to grow and repair the body. Alongside this, food provides most of the many smaller dose vitamins and minerals that support specific functions, ranging from skin health to DNA synthesis. And while a good diet helps our bodies to fight off illness, unhealthy foods increase the risk of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease—we really are what we eat.

Fueled by food and water (losing just 2 percent of our water content can impair mental and physical functions) our bodies thrive on exercise. From digging the garden to running a marathon, exercise sends oxygen and nutrients to our tissues and helps our cardiovascular system work more efficiently. People who exercise regularly not only have greater muscle strength and endurance, but are also less likely to develop heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers: Exercise reduces the risk of early death by around 30 percent.

Regular exercise is essential to maintaining good physical health, not only building strength but also helping our bodies to fight off life-threatening conditions.

Photograph by Adobe Stock

Both diet and exercise are essential for shedding the excess weight that contributes to many serious health issues. Maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index (an estimate of body fat based on weight and height) is shown to improve active life expectancy—living longer without disease or disability. Obesity has also been linked to lack of sleep. Sleep does more than refresh the brain, it affects almost every part of the body. When sleeping, our heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure change, which may be important for the cardiovascular system. We also release hormones that help repair cells—it’s believed that deep sleep helps us make ATP, the body’s energy molecule.

Good health habits include making good life choices, such as not smoking, moderating alcohol intake, and even driving carefully. Consciously following medical advice improves the chances of staying healthy, while committing to regular check-ups can catch conditions early to enable timely treatment. This is the essence of “looking after yourself,” and in developing these good health habits, technology is playing a valuable role.

Smartphones, wearables, and digital platforms have the capacity to reach millions of people with the potential to promote better health habits everywhere. Apps that set exercise goals can encourage people to move more frequently and even build regular exercise into their routines. Similarly, apps can help us understand the nutritional value of the food we eat, flagging our calorific intake or helping diabetics manage their blood-sugar levels. Meanwhile, wearables can actively monitor our vital signs and digital reminders can prompt us to take medication correctly.

Technology, especially in the form of apps, has the power to support people’s drive to good physical health in ways that range from motivating to monitoring.

Photograph by Adobe Stock

Since the global pandemic, telemedicine has become an integral part of healthcare with virtual medical appointments accepted as the norm. Usually intended to augment rather than replace physical face-to-face meetings, these appointments are seen as an efficient way to increase access to healthcare, enabling patients to consult clinicians when, where, and how it suits them best. For example, Blua, which is digital health by Bupa, offers people a range of services across virtual consultations, health programs for body and mind, and remote healthcare in 10 markets around the world. In addition to video consultations, these can include vital sign monitoring, digital health check-ups, digital mental health programs, delivery of medicines and more.

Further hi-tech developments to improve healthcare include nanotechnology, which is now widely used in medicine. Smart pills and nanorobots can significantly improve diagnosis. Nanoparticles provide highly targeted delivery of drugs and can prompt the body to make antibodies against a virus. And carbon nanotubes are being used to repair damaged tissues. 3D printing, using biological tissues or polymers, can create fully functioning artificial organs, such as the Total Artificial Heart and the Wearable Artificial Kidney. And advances in 3D printing are bringing the prospect of more affordable prosthetic limbs—bringing hope to the millions of people missing limbs, like champion sprinter Emmanuel.

Healthcare is finding many ways to use the continued advances in 3D printing, including the creation of better and more affordable prosthetic limbs.

Photograph by Adobe Stock

Meanwhile, he is focused on preparations for his next big competition.

“Sleeping good, eating good, exercising, and drinking lots of water,” explains Emmanuel, are some of the most important positive health habits we can all adopt. “If you have good energy, you’re feeling buzzy, you’re feeling happy,” he smiles. And his good energy is positively infectious.

Discover the innovative ways other athletes’ are creating their own Picture of Health.

Source : National Geographic

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