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Keeping fit and healthy in a strenuous campaign (Election Special)

Posted on Apr 13 2014 | IANS

By Shweta Sharma and Gaurav Sharma, New Delhi, April 13 : Touring thousands of kilometres, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, a diabetic, at times doesn't even get time to eat or take his insulin shots. But doctors and experts caution that despite the back-breaking campaign schedules,

candidates in their bid to woo voters should not overlook their health.

Nutritionists said that candidates, who are campaigning in the summer heat should keep their bodies hydrated and should avoid erratic meals. Though, many candidates are careful about following their doctors' advise, Kejriwal, who is the face of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is not one among them.

"His schedule has gone haywire; he is not even able to take insulin on time. Since it has been a series of whirlwind campaigning for him, he does not even get time to eat," a close aide told IANS.

The aide further noted that sometimes, the diabetic leader, who is contesting against Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi from Varanasi, eats biscuits and other snacks on the go and at times eats what people get
for him.

"Kejriwal has not even been able to meditate, which he earlier religiously used to," the aide added.

Voting in the Hindu holy city will be on May 12.

Cautioning against such erratic meal schedules, nutritionist Shilpa Thakur said that considering the heat, it is important for candidates to increase their intake of fluids.

"Candidates are campaigning in summers, which makes it essential for them to keep their body hydrated. They should consume a minimum of three to four litres of water everyday," Thakur, the chief nutritionist at Asian Institute of Medical
Sciences, told IANS.

"They should start their day with green tea and a few almonds, followed by a breakfast comprising buttermilk, one cereal and a small serving of protein (sprouts). Oily items should be avoided," she said.

But not all candidates are like Kejriwal.

Amar Singh, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) candidate from Fatehpur Sikri in Uttar Pradesh who has undergone a kidney transplant, said he swears by healthy meals and lots of fluids to keep fit.

"Extensive campaigning can take a toll on a candidate's health. Given their erratic
schedules, irregular food habits and lack of adequate sleep, it is important that
they take adequate care and eat properly," Amar Singh told IANS. The voting in his constituency is on April 24.

Agreed Sunita Chowdhury, chief dietitian at BLK Super Speciality Hospital, and advised
candidates to consume items like porridge, vegetable sandwiches and nuts for

"They must also carry handy packets of coconut water, lassi and juices, besides water to keep themselves hydrated. If one can take some time off for yoga or meditation, it will infuse energy," Chowdhury suggested.

Cricketer-turned-politician and Congress candidate from Tonk-Sawai Madhopur Mohammad Azharuddin said he has always believed in eating healthy.

"As I have to work a lot these days I am keeping myself hydrated. I frequently sip a hydration solution while out in the sun. I am on a light diet which helps me talk and walk a lot," Azharuddin, whose constituency goes to the polls April 24, told IANS.

He said he is thriving on "local fruits, salads, boiled vegetables, lemon water hearty local meals (at times) and lots of water".

But for the candidates, who end up speaking for hours during rallies and public meetings, eating healthy is not the only thing to be kept in mind. Health experts advise them to take care of their vocal chords as well.

Lalit Mohan Parashar, senior ENT consultant at Nova
Specialty Hospital, said they should refrain from excessive voice modulation and maintain an even-toned pitch.

"When candidates want to express a certain point, they tend to use emotional changes in the voice as well. They are hence advised to use an even-toned voice to express themselves instead of resorting to modulation," Parashar told IANS.

"They should have items like misri (sugar lumps) and cardamom," Parashar said.

"It is also essential to maintain vocal hygiene, which involves frequent sips of water so that the salivary film over the surface of the vocal chords does not break. Such breakages can lead to hoarseness," he added.

Experts also recommended steam inhalation in the evenings for instant throat relief.

The candidates, who end up walking long hours during their roadshows and other
meetings are also advised to maintain a proper posture to avoid muscle spasms and
joint pains.

"Candidates should exert themselves according to their stamina. They should not
overdo it. They should avoid sitting on the ground, and travel in low-height vehicles," Sharad Kumar Aggarwal, senior orthopedics consultant at Max Healthcare, said.

Voting in the 10-phase elections for the 16th Lok Sabha began April 7 and will conclude. The results will be declared May 16.

(Shweta Sharma can be contacted at; Gaurav Sharma can be contacted at

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