I was asked by the staff at King’s In Touch Magazine to turn my recent presentation at the Pint of Science 2014 festival in to a “King’s Recommends” style article which has a five items list. Here is the pre-print version of the magazine article. If you want to see the slides, you can check them out here at slideshare.net.
Preventing Disease – Not Treating – Should Be Your Goal with Your Health
Like many of you I struggle to find the right balance of diet, exercise and other lifestyle habits that keep me at the right body weight and level of fitness. As someone who researches and teaches in the area of diet, lifestyle and chronic disease I understand all too well the consequences of not prioritizing these aspects of life. I know I need to find this balance if I want to stay healthy as I age. The alternative is to slide into a routine of worrying about my health until later in life. Unfortunately, putting off a focus on health has some very nasty consequences. Research has clearly shown that by not managing my weight and fitness I will be more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, which means that I will die at a younger age – meaning less time with my family and friends. Sadly, I generally fall short of my lifestyle goals and based on the most recent UK health statistics so do the 2 out of every 3 people in the UK who are classed as overweight or obese. Here are my suggestions of what to prioritize in your life so you can stay healthy and live longer.
- Your Weight. While it might seem obvious and a bit of a no brainer, most people who need to lose weight do not. Find the strategy that works for you and stick to it. If it gets boring, find something new to challenge you!
- Your Waist-line. There is overwhelming evidence showing that having high abdominal fat – easily determined by your waist circumference – means you are 3-5 times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke. By losing weight you should see your waist-line shrink as well.
- Your Physical Activity. Do you know the recommended physical activity requirements for the average UK adult? Don’t worry if you don’t, when surveyed most people in the UK did not know either. What is most worrying is that many people never achieve the weekly minimum. You need at least 150 minutes per week of physical activity that gets your heart rate up and the sweat running down your brow – now you know! Remember this target is the low hanging fruit NOT the bar you should be setting for yourself.
- Your Inactivity. Many people equate increasing physical activity with decreasing inactivity but they are very different things. Think about the body positions you spend most of your day in – if it does not involve high levels of walking, stretching, jumping, running, twisting and climbing then you are too inactive. Today many occupations and home related activities require very little use of muscles and require very low levels of energy – both of which contribute to decreased fitness and increased body fat. You need to move more and sit less.
- Your Other Bad Habits. Quit smoking, drink less alcohol and get more sleep. Smoking, moderate to excessive alcohol consumption and lack of sleep just compound the risk of developing lifestyle related diseases like type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.