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Outside Influence

“I think there’s just some level of catharsis that happens when you’re exposed to nature. I find it to be stress reducing for me. It helps my mental health so I can be my best self when I go to work every day.” – Dr. Balaguru Ravi

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Balaguru Ravi, MD, CAQSM: Internal Medicine, Orthopedics – Sports Medicine, Clear Lake Clinic (Bay Area Campus)

March 2023

Dr. Ravi has always lived a healthy, active lifestyle, but continues to learn new things about wellness. And when he does, he eagerly passes on his newfound knowledge to his patients, from the benefits of a plant-based diet (which he follows himself) to spending time in the great outdoors.

Have you always been a healthy, active person?

Yes, I would consider myself that. In high school, I signed up for the NJROTC (Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) program. They do a lot of PT, strength training, and mental health exercises. It was a nice, regimented curriculum for me to experience. That really helped kick things off. After that, I just kind of took what I learned from that and applied it personally. I started maintaining some level of healthy eating, aerobic activity, and weightlifting just to kind of keep that longevity going. Now, I do strength training and a lot of hiking with my wife. I love to be outdoors.

You follow a plant-based diet. What prompted you to make that change?

Studies are pretty clear that eating more plant-based food significantly reduces the risk of cardiac disease, heart attack, and stroke. A lot of meat products, even if they’re organic or farm-raised, have pro-inflammatory markers in them and can affect the gut microbiome. If we keep eating foods that have those inflammatory markers, we’re making ourselves prone to more pro-inflammatory states, which in turn make us more prone to different types of infections. Our bodies have to use more energy to fight inflammation and don’t have enough energy left to fight off infection.

What physical activity do you suggest for the average person?

You’ll want to do at least 150 minutes per week of some level of aerobic activity and that’s cardiovascular activity, so running, jogging, walking, swimming – that would be the bare minimum. And if you feel your endurance getting better, double it up to 300 minutes, so that’s 20 to 30 minutes every other day. I think a good mix is more important than focusing more on one type of exercise, so what I would say is do aerobic activity three to four days a week and do some kind of strength training two days a week. When you do resistance training, you actually burn calories for two to three days after you work out because your muscles are still going through repair and regeneration. When you’re doing aerobic exercise, you’re burning calories only during the time you’re active. So, when you combine the two, you’ll stay in a higher metabolic state a lot longer.

Other than diet and exercise, what else do you feel influences wellness?

Sleep is really important. I think it’s really underrated. Make sure you get at least seven to eight hours of sleep because you remove toxins from your body when you’re sleeping. That’s when your brain is actually working even harder than during the day. That’s one thing I really improved on recently. I didn’t really prioritize the importance of sleep when I was in my teens and 20s, but I found out we need that just as much as we need to eat healthy and work out. So, when you prioritize sleep, you have more energy in general during the day to stay active.

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