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Politics can be Hazardous to Health

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Linz (dpa) - Being a politician can be hazardous to health, an expert at the "Working Medical Centre" in the Austrian city of Linz warned on Thursday.

"They're burning up their bodies" said physician Gerald Wolfschuetz in a warning to candidates for Upper Austria province elections on September 28, but presumably valid for politicians everywhere.

Campaigning politicians were subject to "constant and sustained mental and physical burdens" leading to a stress situation affecting the heart and circulatory systems, as well as the stomach.

In the midst of an election campaign, politicians should not forget healthy nourishment. They should also use every free minute to relax, for instance through meditation.

The great majority of politicians hurried from one engagement to the next, ate "fast food" and did not get enough sleep. These were all factors leading to chronic stress. The effects were high blood pressure, a quickening of the pulse, muscle contractions, headaches, insomnia, fatigue and digestive problems.

Politicians should forget fast food and eat health foods such as muesli. Greatly beneficial was also a meditation exercise - sitting down, back straight, hands folded, palms upward below the navel, thumbs touching, shoulders relaxed and eyes straight ahead.

Breathing must be quiet and regular for five minutes. "You can think about what you like, but you shouldn't go to sleep", said Wolfschuetz.

When the election was finally over, only the winners recovered. "The others collapse completely." They lacked the beneficial "happiness hormone". Also, sometimes the losers came under fire from their parties, and that meant more stress.

Copyright 2003 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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