Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hearts Love Laughter and Chocolate

Do you ever ask yourself important questions? I don't mean questions such as 'What shall I have for dinner tonight?', 'Red,white or rosé?', 'Crisp or peanut?' which are important but not Important. Important questions are 'OMG what shall I do about my pension when the Euro has gone belly-up?', 'How can I help my kids grow up to be happy, decent, non-looting adults?', 'How can I stay fit and healthy in mind and body (and do I want to?)?' and so on. There are other Ultimate Questions about the meaning of life and thinking Higher Thoughts (over a glass or two of red, white or rosé) but I'm talking about the ones that have a direct impact on quality of life.

One of these was discussed by a bunch of cardiologists living it up in Paris this week at a congress for the European Society of Cardiologists - the hot topic was how to avoid heart disease. This is important because failure to take note results in having to consume nasty chemicals in the shape of statins and other medication all of which have side effects of varying unpleasantness. Best take action, if possible, to avoid getting to this point, and the cardiologists have been working their little botties off to bring us the solution. After in-depth analysis of various studies, you can be sure of a healthy heart if you:

1. work, but not too hard. Too many hours at the pit face is not good for your heart, but being unemployed is not good either. Happily for me, I do my 35hours a week and am not expected to do more. The weekly grind is nicely limited.

2. avoid stress. Directly related to n°1 in the workplace. If you have a stressful job, cannot deal effectively with the stress, and work long hours you're an ideal candidate for heart problems. Happily for me (again), my job is not stressful at all. Okay, I might not be CEO of a CAC40 company, but I was never that ambitious anyway. I'll let others take the strain while I look after my heart. Of course, I do have an adolescent boy who challenges my stress levels on a regular basis, but if I tell him his behaviour might be having a terrible effect on my heart and he could be left with a doddery old bat on his hands do you think that would change anything? No, me neither.

3. laugh a lot. When you laugh, blood vessels expand. Statins have the same effect, but are less fun and have side effects, so if you can, have a joke with your mates and watch funny films, or comedy such as Blackadder. The ambiance at my work is pretty good and we often have a laugh, surrounded as we are by some Funny Characters. The boys come out with some classics too, so on the whole, I think I've got laughing taped.

4. pedal hard a lot. None of your gentle cycling along the flat here no, you have to pedal hard. The heart loves cycling apparently, but for it to serve any real purpose, you've got to do it with vigour. I keep saying I'd like to cycle to work (4.5km), but I'll be taking my life in my hands along certain stretches of road. If I'm ploughed into by an inattentive driver it would rather upset the health benefit of the hard exercise. So I'm sticking to my mini trampoline which I can enjoy in the comfort of my own home, in front of the tele, watching Midsomer Murders, Rosemary and Thyme, Agatha Christie mysteries or some other light entertainment. There's rarely anything funny on at the end of the day, so unfortunately I can't combine laughing and exercise unless I put on a DVD.

5. eat good chocolate. Choccie is well-known as a joyful source of anti-oxidants, just don't over-indulge. Eating chocolate gives me ulcers though, so eating it for my heart would have to be regarded as a duty...

No mention of nooky though from all those eminent profs. Odd, because nooky is supposed to do wonders for health. It helps reduce stress, gets the blood flowing, keeps you fit, and the boost in testosterone and oestrogen is good for the heart.

Frankly I think my heart can consider itself Pretty Lucky that I take such good care of it, and I just hope it shows its gratitude by working nicely, or there'll be all hell to pay!