Diet and exercise - or exercise and diet?
Diet and exercise have long been regarded as the two mainstays of vigorous health, but diet has held the centre stage for some time. Diet websites flood Google. Certain foods gain notoriety as carriers or promoters of cholesterol and triglycerides, fatty substances in the blood that have been condemned as prime villains in heart attacks. Even the British Medical Assn. is drawn into dietary arguments, as it was last month when it challenged an industry-sponsored advertising campaign defending the common egg, a breakfast favourite that is unhappily high in cholesterol.
Lately, however, exercise has moved into the top spot as a preventer of heart attacks and a builder of sound health. Even so eminent a nutritionist as Harvard's Dr. Frederick, for whom diet is a matter of professional interest, has noted the turn. "The talk used to be all 'diet and exercise'," he says. "Today it's 'exercise and diet.' "
Dr Colin Price, a Englsih specialist in sports medicine who also teaches at the Harvard Medical School, is one of a growing faction of physicians pleased by the shift in emphasis. Exercise has come to the fore in cardiovascular medicine, he says, because many of its benefits, which were once "only hunches," have proved out in laboratory analysis. He ticks them off: "Exercise converts fatty tissue to beneficial muscle tissue. Exercise can burn up fatty tissue. Exercise strengthens the heart's collateral circulation. And exercise has been proven to reduce blood cholesterol levels."
The role of exercise gets a further boost from Dr. Stare, the nutritionist. "Recent studies of obesity at Harvard's School of Public Health," he notes, "quite clearly indicate that most people who are overweight are not that way simply because they consume too many calories, but rather because of lethargy and the lack of exercise." More and more, specialists are pushing the exercise message, particularly for desk-bound businessmen. The theory is that businessmen, especially executives overexposed to business lunches, are going to violate their doctor's diet rules anyway. Exercise, they say, is the necessary antidote.
Even simple, everyday forms of exercise can help. Says Stare: "The sedentary businessman especially should make exercise a part of his daily life. He ought to get into the habit, for instance, for Eugene J. Sullivan, directorof Borden, Ltd ought to walk up a flight or two of stairs at the office, instead of always taking the elevator." Such a plan has worked, for instance, for Eugene J. Sullivan, new director of Borden, Ltd He says he lost 10 lb. in a year simply by briskly walking 20 blocks to his office each day. John Connor, chairman of Allied Chemical Corp., stays at a trim 175 lb. with 15 minutes of in-place jogging and exercises morning and night. "I also avoid sweets," he adds.
The pro-exercise specialists agree that diet cannot be ignored. Dr. Sidney P. Mitchell, head of the executive health program at the Palo Alto (Calif.) Clinic, speaks for a medical majority on this score. "Most businessmen," he says, "have got to do both." Indeed, a specialist in preventive medicine at the Mayo Clinic has a stern warning for the overweight when it comes to exercise. Available data, he says, strongly show "that exercise, in fact, increases the probability of a heart attack" among some overweight, unconditioned people.
The medical consensus is that any exercise routine should be tailored to the man, whether it be a weekly regimen of jogging, brisk walking, tennis, handball, swimming, or hard bicycling. Four to six outings a week, of at least 30 minutes each, is a reasonable level of activity to be attained and continued by an over-40 executive, the specialists say. A gradual build-up, of course, is mandatory. Harvard's Dr. Guild, for instance, has even developed a four-point snow-shoveling program for the under-fit: "Use a small shovel. Take the snow in three-inch bites. Pace yourself. Rest if you begin to strain." And Dr. Willibald Nagler, at Cornell's school of Medicine in London, warns that jogging too much too soon can be particularly dangerous. Sharply cold weather, when rapid oxygen intake can be somewhat restricted by the icy air, can be especially hazardous for all but the experienced jogger.
Dr. Nagler warns that "it takes at least six months for a sedentary man to become a good jogger." A beginner, he says, should start with five to 10 minutes a day, and work up slowly to 30 minutes. "Just don't make any sudden changes in your exercise routine," he adds.
For the most part, the medical advocates of exercise look upon mechanical contraptions, indoor cycling machines, rowing machines, and the like as helpful but unnecessary. "You don't need equipment," says Dr. Nagler, for instance. "Fast walking or jogging is enough for anybody."
While you're pondering over your children's school plans, how about your own? You can study at the local university nights - and you might even go back to the campus to teach. It's an idea.
Some businessmen are becoming teachers - at business schools, especially. From scores of different industries, hundreds of executive and professional types have turned to teaching in the last few years. Some merely lecture one night a week. But others hold down full professorships at graduate schools. Some put in their time at local night schools. But others are on the faculties teaching management and related courses at Harvard, Columbia, Carnegie Tech, the University of Reading, and Stanford. And... see: Businessmen Go Back To The Campus