It’s the things that we do every day that kill us. If we had just the occasional drink and smoking a cigarette a month our bodies would probably cope. However, twenty a day a will do us in eventually. What if each day we were to do small, positive things to enhance our health instead?
Habits taketh man
Habits make or break us. Twenty years ago I remember looking at a friend of mine and admiring his discipline, tenacity and drive. Twenty years later, he’s got it all – a lovely wife, a gorgeously huge home, perfect kids, dogs, and a summer place abroad. He’s strong, fit, healthy and, what’s more, he’s a really nice guy. Don’t you just hate him? Habits have made him and have included getting up early, exercising, not smoking or drinking to excess and having a calm mind every single day. We all have mates who have gone down the other road, which was classed as the much cooler road when we were younger. This is the getting trollied road and the doing no exercise road. The trouble is, if you take this road you’re likely to wake up at 45 years old, fat, drunk and stupid and that’s no way to go through life. You’ll pay for that ‘animal house’ philosophy in the end, however boring it might be in the short term. So what can those of us who overindulge expect?
The ill effects of smoking take a while to become apparent. To begin with it’ll be small things, things that you feel you can cope with because they don’t really seem to be doing you any major harm.
Your love life sucks
Smoke smells. Smells linger. Smoke smells linger longer. Clothes, hair, furnishings, cars are all neon signs that say, ‘We smoke and we stink but we don’t care!’ Oddly enough, this is not an attractive prospect to nonsmokers, so it cuts down your choice of partners by around 75%.
Smoke and mirrors
Smokers can expect to look old before their time with premature sagging and wrinkles as the habit dries out their skin. Your hair grows thin and loses its bounce and lustre. Your fingers yellow, along with your teeth and you get those delightful hairline wrinkles around your mouth. All classic signs of a smoker.
In the red
Your bank balance will be showing signs of strain as your habit builds up and you begin smoking more and more. Not to mention the higher premiums you’ll have to pay for insurance (they expect you to die younger, you see).
Breathing is a brilliant idea. Everybody does it. Your lungs really like it and so does the rest of your body. Strangling yourself is cheaper and a swifter, less painful, option than smoking.
An early sign of lung problems is the well-known smoker’s cough. This rapidly becomes a morning ritual, whereby you spend a considerable amount of time coughing up as much accumulated rubbish from your airways as the body can expel. Then there’s the cough you seem unable to shake off all winter long. The dry cough is caused by the heat scorching your lungs and air passages. This can sometimes be uncontrollable, taking several minutes to clear.
As time goes on, it’s the breathlessness that hits. The stairs become a mountain, small hills are an Everest and you can’t run for more than a few yards. Any physical activity leaves you short of breath and your chest hurts if you exert yourself too much.
Coronary heart disease is nicotine’s biggest gift to you. Money may make the world go round, but, more importantly, your heart makes your blood go round. No heart, no you. Damage your lungs and you damage your heart. As your smoking cuts down the amount of oxygen absorbed into the blood, so the heart has to work all the harder to pump the necessary amount of oxygen to keep the muscles and vital organs going.
The longer you smoke, the more clogged up the lungs become, the harder the heart has to work. Chest pains are a worrying sign and ought to be a serious warning to you that the heart just can’t take it any more.
The problems you’ll be causing your blood vessels can lead to a stroke, which can kill you or leave you disabled or unable to speak. Classic warning signs of an impending stroke are double vision, terrible headaches or difficulty finding the right words.
Circulation problems can lead to amputation, particularly of toes, feet and legs. Your teeth will also start to loosen as your smoking causes bone disease and your gums recede.
The only real answer is to stop now. One year after stopping, your risk of having a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker and within 15 years falls to a level similar to that of a person who has never smoked. Within 15 years of quitting, an ex-smoker’s risk of developing lung cancer reduces to only slightly greater than that of a non-smoker.
Extracted from The Corporate Wellness Bible by Kate Cook (www.infideas.com). To discuss how your business can benefit from The Corporate Wellness Bible, including how you can order bespoke versions for your company, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call David Grant on 01865 514 888.