You deserve to be healthy
Everyone deserves to be healthy.
For most of us, that’s exactly what we are. Especially in the younger years.
No problem then. Keep doing what you’re doing.
That’s one approach.
But here’s the thing
As you move through life you lose people you love. For different reasons. The ones that sting – a lot – are those who die of anything they could have taken steps to avoid.
Chronic diseases can’t always be avoided. That’s just fact.
But for many, many conditions we can take steps now to reduce the risk of developing them by adopting healthy habits.
There’s no louder wake-up call than moving from your 30’s to your 40’s
Turning 40 is the point when most of us start to think about our own mortality and think about maybe making some changes.
But your 40’s are full of challenges;
- ageing parents who need more of our time
- a growing family
- building a career
- partners career
- the onset of later-life diseases?
During your 30’s you probably left your health to fate. Why not? You’re young and getting on with living, building a career, a family, so why worry about your health?
Your 40’s should be the decade when you begin to take your health a little more seriously.
This is the decade where you prepare for 50.
Yep, 50. And I speak as someone who knows.
It will be here before you know it.
Once you reach your 50’s you begin to reap the rewards of the choices you made in your 30’s and 40’s
Adopting a healthy lifestyle makes a difference. Even if you wait until your 40’s/50’s/60’s. I honestly believe that it’s never too late to prioritise your health and fitness to help future proof your body.
I don’t believe that we should set ourselves resolutions each new year and wait until the clock ticks round before we make the changes we’ve resolved to make.
That just doesn’t make any sense at all.
If something is worth doing and you feel the need to make a change – get on and do it.
And keep doing it. Even when there’s a setback or you don’t see immediate results.
Don’t give up on your own health and wellbeing.
You’ll only be letting yourself down.
At a bit of a tangent
Recently I went to an event at Manchester Arena
I attended a seminar at the Manchester Arena with Professor Brian Cox OBE. Brian Cox is Professor of Particle Physics at The University Of Manchester here in England and he’s a wonderful speaker who engages his audience incredibly well.
The seminar was called; Universal: Adventures In Space and Time. One of the fantastic illustrations to explain, of all things, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was a kind of lightbulb moment for me about the way we age.
Long story short, the events we experience can impact the way we age. Obvious really.
The seminar didn’t address the subject of human ageing at all. But the explanation of the concept of time appears to slow down or speed up resulted in me making the link.
Some life events inevitably have an adverse impact on our quality of life. That can be for a short time such as when you break a bone or have a longer-lasting impact such as disease.
Whilst we can’t totally protect ourselves from developing diseases we can reduce the possibility through the choices we make.
The 8 top tips for increasing your chances of ageing healthily
Spoiler alert! None of these tips will come as any surprise. And they apply equally to women’s health and men’s health.
1. Eat Healthily
Not for nothing do health professionals tell you to have a healthy diet. Not an ‘I’m on a diet’ diet, but a healthy diet for the whole of your life. For example;
A diet rich in fibre can cut early death risk by a quarter. That’s right – a quarter.
A review commissioned by the World Health Organisation and published in The Lancet medical journal found that those people who get plenty of fibre in their diet cut their chances of early mortality by between a quarter and a third. That’s huge.
Taking that fact one step further, you should always consider the potential impact on your long-term health of any form of a restrictive diet. A diet that reduces your intake of certain foods or groups of foods, may help to shift excess weight quickly, but it may not be suitable for a whole-of-life healthy diet.
Diet also plays a key part in staying strong over the age of 70. Foods high in protein such as eggs, milk, tuna and chicken – and even protein powder – help keep limbs and joints supple.
Food, and eating delicious beautifully cooked food, is one of life’s pleasures. Why abuse that and make yourself unhealthy through poor food choices? Or worse still, latch onto a diet plan that can endanger your long term health?
Check out my posts on Health & Wellbeing and Recipes for tips and advice on diet that I’ve researched extensively to help you – and hopefully save you time. I update those pages regularly so remember to check back often.
2. Get Regular Exercise
Yes, that old chestnut.
As you enter each new decade of your life remember this; use it or lose it. That applies not only to keep your body active but your brain as well. Start to work on your physical health and reap the rewards now and in the future.
Start by finding an exercise that suits your lifestyle rather than attempting to shoehorn-in a routine that is too demanding in terms of time (or cost) to make it sustainable.
Diseases related to ageing such as frailty and infirmity can be kept at bay through the addition of resistance-based exercise.
Exercise can also keep your brain young. Researchers led by Columbia University asked 132 people aged 20 to 67 to do four short workouts a week for 6 months, either aerobic exercise or stretching and toning. Just 6 months of aerobic exercise helped 40-year-olds achieve the thinking skills of a 30-year-old. For people aged 60, this exercise regime helped to reach the thinking skills of someone 20 years their junior.
3. Manage Your Weight
We all know that maintaining a healthy body weight is important for health. So very many diseases are caused or worsened by being overweight.
One surprising report I read recently shows that cancers linked to obesity are rising faster in adults aged 25 to 49 than in older generations. Researchers from the American Cancer Society looked at data covering more than half the US population in 6 of the main cancers – including bowel, pancreatic and kidney – it was found the younger the age group, the greater the increase in incidence.
Do you need to lose or put on weight?
A good way to find out if you need to lose or gain some weight is to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). Finding your BMI is easy; you just divide your weight in kilograms by your height in centimetres squared. To help – use this BMI calculator.
You should also consider your waist measurement, as regardless of your BMI, carrying too much fat around your middle can cause health issues such as increasing your risk of developing heart disease, stroke or type 2 diabetes.
Regardless of your height or BMI, you should try to lose weight if your waist is:
- 94cm (37ins) or more for men
- 80cm (31.5ins) or more for women
You’re at very high risk and should contact your GP if your waist is:
- 102cm (40ins) or more for men
- 88cm (34ins) or more for women
If you do need to address your weight, and you have no eating disorders, choosing a healthy eating plan is going to be key.
A ketogenic diet has been proven to help the obese lose weight safely
A recent study found that a ketogenic diet acted as a natural therapy for weight reduction in obese patients.
If you are a bit of a sugar addict consider this; the relationship between a high-fat diet and cancer is not conclusive. But sugar consumption is positively associated with cancer in humans.
If you are underweight or in the normal weight/BMI range for your health, there is no reason for following a diet associated with weight loss. Instead, consider the overall makeup of your current diet and amend it to optimise your chances of reaching your mid-life in the best possible health.
Remember: When losing or gaining weight it’s worth taking advice from a health expert or nutritionist on how to do that without causing damage to your health.
4. Protect Your Skin
The American Academy of Dermatology tells us there are many things that cause our skin to age. Some we can influence – others we can’t.
One thing you can’t change is the natural ageing process. It plays a key role. With time, you will get visible lines on your face. It’s natural for your face to lose some of its youthful fullness. Your genes largely control when these changes occur.
Signs of skin ageing will start to become apparent from your 30’s.
After the age of 40, your body no longer produces collagen and what you do have starts to lose its elasticity.
As you reach 50, the skin is quite dry and bruises easily and wrinkles are apparent. The medical term for this type of ageing is “intrinsic ageing.”
We can influence another type of ageing that affects our skin. Our environment and lifestyle choices can cause our skin to age prematurely.
Even people who already have signs of premature skin ageing can benefit from making lifestyle changes. By protecting your skin from the sun, you give it a chance to repair some of the damage. Smokers who stop often notice that their skin looks healthier.
Following these 8 Top Tips For Increasing Your Chances of Aging Healthily, you’ll be directly helping the appearance of your skin.
5. Don’t Smoke
You really don’t need to be reminded of the health risks of smoking. For many years the damage smoking causes to your health has been widely publicised. But in case you’ve been living under a rock these last few years and you are a smoker, or someone you love is;
- Smoking increases your risk of developing more than 50 serious health conditions.
- Some may be fatal, and others can cause irreversible long-term damage to your health.
- Smoking causes around 7 out of every 10 cases of lung cancer (70%).
It also causes cancer in many other parts of the body, including the:
- voice box (larynx)
- oesophagus (the tube between your mouth and stomach)
Smoking damages your heart and your blood circulation, increasing your risk of developing conditions such as:
- coronary heart disease
- heart attack
- peripheral vascular disease (damaged blood vessels)
- cerebrovascular disease (damaged arteries that supply blood to your brain)
- In men, smoking can cause impotence because it limits the blood supply to the penis.
- It can also reduce the fertility of both men and women.
The prosecution rests my lord!
6. Practice Safe Sex
Taking care of your health is important at all ages and that includes making sure you practice safe sex.
Older adults need to be just as careful as younger people when having sex with a new partner. You may not be able to get pregnant, but you’re still susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases. Talk to your partner, and protect yourself.
7. Limit Alcohol
Much like smoking, you would have to try really hard to avoid hearing about the dangers of too much alcohol.
Drinking too much – on a single occasion or over time – can take a serious toll on your health.
Drinking too much can weaken your immune system, making your body a much easier target for disease. That’s because drinking a lot on a single occasion slows your body’s ability to ward off infections – even up to 24 hours after getting drunk. Generally, the more and the longer people drink, the greater their risk of alcoholic liver disease. For more information on safe drinking click here.
8. Follow Professional Advice
Take advantage of all the health checks you’re offered. So that’s the regular health checks; breast screening for women’s health and a smear test; and the over 60 ‘poo’ test for signs of bowel cancer.