Health is a partnership with your heart – Afzal Dhansay – CVS Product Manager
The heart is an extraordinary muscle which never rests, beating on average 72 times per minute or 100 000 times a day, for an entire lifetime. The heart pumps oxygenated blood and nutrients to all parts of the body and it is therefore in everyone’s interest to maintain a healthy heart if you want it to serve you well. Like any muscle, to maintain a healthy heart, you need to exercise it, and feed it with the correct nutrients.
Meet the man behind SA’s cardiovascular powerhouse and leading supplier of cardiovascular medicines for the past seven years. Dr Afzal Dhansay (PhD) is not just talking the talk, he is walking the walk…or should we say running the run.
As an avid athlete, he has been running competitively for 23 years and his achievements include two Comrades ultramarathons (90 km), 10 Two Oceans ultramarathons (56 km) and numerous standard marathons (42.2 km), which include 5 international marathons.
Long distance running teaches one many life skills which include goal-setting, planning, discipline to train consistently, and executing on race day. As a runner, it is easier to follow a healthy diet as you keep ask yourself, “Will this help me, or hinder me on race-day?”.
Running has taught me that I’m capable of so much more than I ever imagined. I attempted my first half-marathon (21.1 km) in 1995 and kept setting new benchmarks for myself in the years that followed. In 1998 I completed my first Comrades marathon which has undoubtedly been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There are many Comrades marathon quotations but the one that has stayed with me is “Once you’ve run the Comrades, you will look at yourself differently”.
Advice I can give a prospective runner is to set realistic goals. Start slowly and discover your optimum distance. Attempt both trail and road races to see where your passion lies. It is easier to train in a group so join a local club for group runs, or do park runs. Road and trail running is well organised in South Africa and as a runner the world is your playground.
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My mother has diabetes. Growing up, I saw firsthand the impact of long term illness on her quality of life. I learned that good health is a gift to be cherished and decided never to take it for granted. I set a goal for myself – choose a healthy lifestyle for my family every day.
Last year, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. As a single mother, a cancer diagnosis is scary. I needed radiation therapy, to care for my son, and somehow keep my job. I hadn’t been employed by Pharma Dynamics for long, and the thought of asking for extended sick leave was daunting – but I didn’t need to worry.