Practicing What He Preaches
There are places in this world where heart disease is almost unknown--and Sanjay Gupta, MD, chief medical correspondent for CNN, has studied them carefully for clues to their success. They're not necessarily the societies with the most advanced medicine. In fact, Western medical care has barely made inroads among some of these people, including Papua New Guineans and Mexico's Tarahumara Indians. Their secret? They're not sedentary. Even more important, they eat whole foods. And they consume very little sugar--"pretty much once a year, when fruit ripens," Dr. Gupta says.7 Diseases That Strike Younger Than You Think
The 42-year-old Gupta has logged some serious hours exploring the science behind all this--not just for heart health, but for brain health and cancer reduction too. He has traveled to Okinawa to meet with 100-year-olds. He has personally tested the health benefits of meditation. And each step of the way, he has incorporated the lessons he has learned into his own lifestyle. The result? He's incredibly fit, especially for someone with such demands on his time--as a TV correspondent, a practicing neurosurgeon, the author of three books (including his new medical novel, Monday Mornings), and a husband and father of three girls, ages 7, 5, and 3. In his own words, here's how he does it--and how you can too.
1. Don't think of exercise as optional
"The president of CNN Worldwide is Jim Walton. If he says, 'I need to meet with you,' I'm going to meet with him. That's a huge priority for me. But my well-being and fitness are also huge priorities for me, so I give them the same degree of importance. If you have a busy day, the inclination is to let exercise fall off the radar, but the meeting with the boss will not. I treat exercise like a meeting with the boss."
2. Pump your heart to better your brain.
"Over the last 3 years, I've gotten involved in triathlons, which include swimming, biking, and running. Aerobic exercise increases cardiac output, meaning the heart's pumping capacity. But even more interesting is new research showing that patients with better cardiac output also have larger brains, with more neural growth factors and even some new cells. It's a brain that's more efficient."28 Days To A Healthier Heart
3. Move it or lose it.
"Incorporating movement into your everyday life is probably even better for you than going to the gym. From an evolutionary standpoint, humans are designed to move, not to sit or lie down for 23 hours a day and exercise for one. For people with desk jobs, this can be tough. I've got a pull-up bar hanging above the door in my office. i don't do a lot of weights, but i do push-pull exercises--push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, using my own body weight--that i can do on the road when i travel. Strength training and isometrics seem to be particularly good for decreasing body mass index and increasing HDL.
"I also keep a jump rope in my office. One of our producers doesn't have a chair at his desk, so he stands. Other people sit on those big exercise balls.
"Something else we now do at both the office and the hospital is walking meetings. if we have to meet, we'll walk. i find the meetings are much more productive. i don't know why. Maybe it's because our brains are getting bigger simultaneously."
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4. Get your kids in the act
"Before I started training for triathlons, I had to talk to my wife [lawyer Rebecca Gupta] about the fact that I might spend 4 hours on a Saturday morning exercising. That's potentially 4 hours away from our kids. So now we have jogging strollers. We have a Burley child trailer for the back of the bike, so I can take a kid and let her nap in the Burley. I'll take the older kids to the park, while I swim in the lake."
5. Stop eating before you're full.
"In Japan, I interviewed a woman who was 103 years old and still selling oranges. I asked her how she stayed young. She said she dated younger men, which I thought was funny. But there was a lot more to her story than that. Something I learned in Okinawa was the concept of hara hachi bu. You push the plate away when you're 80% full. It made sense to me from a neuroscience perspective, because it takes 15 to 20 minutes for your brain to register that you're in fact full."8 Secrets Of The Naturally Thin
6. Fall out of love with sugar.
"My wife and I do not keep sweets in the house. When our kids go to birthday parties, they scrape the frosting off the cake because it tastes too sweet to them. People think the problem with sugar is that it makes you fat. But it's not just inches around your waist. Sugar is a potential toxin. The liver becomes fatty, and it starts to release small, dense particles of LDL, which are the most damaging kind for blood vessels. There is also some interesting new data suggesting that a third of some common cancers, including breast and colon cancer, have insulin receptors on them, so you could be fueling indolent cancers. Ice cream is my weakness. But I've got to walk to get it--the store is more than a mile away. I'll walk there with the girls once a month."
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