A healthy lifestyle is one of the best defenses against various health-related problems as it promotes both physical and mental discipline, besides offering effective resistance to many ailments, said K. Narayana Kurup, eminent jurist and former Acting Chief Justice of Madras High Court.

Justice Kurup was inaugurating the Mental Health Promotion and Lifestyle Diseases Prevention Programme at Pushpagiri Institute of Medical Sciences in Thiruvalla on Tuesday.

According to him, health is not mere absence of disease, but, it symbolises a state of physical, social and mental well-being and nation can seldom co-exist with out healthy citizens.

“What is the purpose of engaging in a rat race to amass wealth at any cost and to become victims of anxiety, depression and a host of various other diseases ? We are not punished for our sins, but, we are punished by our sins. Many diseases like heart attack, cancer, diabetes, etc, that have become common in modern times are largely influenced by lifestyles such as poor diet, junk food, coupled with environmental pollution, use of tobacco, alcohol and so on,’’ said Justice Kurup.

He said tobacco has been identified as the main risk factor for stroke, heart attack and different kinds of cancer and the risk was considerably reduced, once you were out of the quicksand of tobacco by changing your lifestyle.

Sedentary lifestyle is also a contributing factor for diseases like diabetes and cardiac ailments. Diabetes, if left unattended, affects the whole body from head to toe. It is also a major risk factor for myocardial infarction.

Justice Kurup said alcohol was another villain that has emerged as a major health and social problem. “Alcohol injures people internally, externally and eternally and more people have been drowned in alcohol than in the oceans,’’ he added.

Lifestyle change

He said the first step one must take to enjoy good health was to change the way of living, beginning with food. We must eat what benefits the body, instead of eating only that benefits the palate.

We have to get ourselves relieved from the clutches of tobacco, alcohol and other addictive substances that play havoc with our health.

Exercise matters

Justice Kurup has also stressed the need for a positive change in modern man’s attitude towards exercise. For over several years now, walking has been regarded as the best exercise people of all ages could do unfailingly do on all days, he said.

He said it was a folly to think that exercise is associated with just muscle-building, forgetting the enormous benefits it produces for the mind. Exercise has the power to elevate the spirit creating a sense of well-being in the individual. Exercise improves mental fitness and now, there is scientific evidence that regular exercise can be more powerful than drugs to combat stress and tone-up muscles, he said.

Meditation

He said meditation has also got a positive impact on health. With the aid of meditation, even the most tenacious addiction would loose its hold over the victim. What happens in meditation is that the person gradually looses his obsessive identification with the pleasure of the body and the senses.

Justice Kurup said an optimistic mindset would go a long way in promoting mental health which was a sine-qua-non for a healthy living.

Prof Roy Abraham Kallivayalil, head of the Department of Psychiatry, presided over the function. Fr Abraham Mulamoottil, PIMS Chairman; Dr John Abraham, Pushpagiri Medical College principal, Dr Beena Bhasan, Pushpagiri Nursing College principal; Dr Fazal Mohammed, and Dr Elizabeth Kurien, also spoke.

Dr Kallivayalil said the mental health promotion programme would be held at PIMS on all Thursdays.