Sunday, 1 January 2017

Why Getting and Keeping Fit in 2017 Might Be a Bit of Struggle

Happy New Year to one and all! I hope that you achieve everything you set out to do in 2017. Remember it’s often better to adopt a glass half full than a glass empty outlook on life; and that smiles and hugs are very powerful when it comes to making a difference to people's lives. Father Christmas brought W and I a 'fitbit' this Christmas, possibly with the intention of trying to get us to make a difference to our lives. W immediately opened hers, downloaded the app and had 'earned' her first Urban Boots badge before lunchtime.

And its not just Father Christmas who wants to make a difference - coincidentally, Public Health England reported what they described as a health crisis last week. It appears that desk jobs, fast food and the daily grind are having an adverse impact on the middle aged. 8 in every 10 people aged between 40–60 are either overweight, drink too much or get too little exercise (or all three). Forget Generation X or Z, this group are now being referred to as the 'sandwich generation' – which is nothing whatsoever to do with cheese and pickle or a BLT. The 'sandwich generation' are often those looking after ageing parents as well as their own children. 

Even without the responsibility of child and elder care, many people in this age group live a life that is increasingly busy and demanding. There can be very little time to take exercise and or eat properly. Tiredness can lead to exhaustion, mental health problems and unwise decisions over how much alcohol consumption is good for you. It appears we are living longer but for a growing number of people, they will experience poor health because of the problems caused by the lifestyle choices they make.

Thankfully I am no longer middle-aged, and at my age I think one should always approach these ‘getting fit’ regimes with a modicum of caution. I lost count of the number of friends and colleagues who did themselves no end of harm, getting and keeping fit last year. I think my more cautious approach is possibly a good thing for me. If you want to find out what might make a difference to your health and wellbeing, you can try this on-line assessment here. Over a 1 million people have done so and many are already benefiting from changes to their lifestyle they are have made.

As for me, well I can share some of the promises I have made to myself for the New Year: I will always drink my single malt whisky only with water drawn and bottled from a Norwegian Fjord; my eggs will need to come from free range, organically reared Croad Langshan hens; and the accompanying chips deep fried in pure coconut oil; all other vegetables should be shredded using a Kai Shun Michel Bras mandolin; I won't eat bread unless its sprouted bread and comes complete with a verse quoted from the Bible (see Ezekiel 4.9). In future, in terms of making sure I get enough roughage in my diet, I will ask for my grapes to be served unpeeled.

Exercise is equally as important as diet. I will continue to walk every day with Cello my dog, and run my fingers through what’s left of my hair. The Elephant Bikes W and I got for Christmas remain warm and dry in the garage (it's promised rain every day since I got them here), but 2 people in Malawi who will have also each received a bike, are able to ride theirs everyday. And I am being severely exercised by trying to work out how to get my 'fitbit' out of its box and set up. 

Of course some of the above is said with tongue in cheek (well not the grape bit…) - this first posting of 2017 is my contribution to starting the year by hopefully putting a smile of people’s lips. I haven’t talked about the year that was 2016. For many people it wasn't always a good year. However, I did want to mention the story last week published in the Indy100, about Dr Donald Henderson. 

Donald Henderson died on August the 19th 2016. In a year of an unprecedented number of celebrity deaths, his death was barely remarked upon. Yet his impact on the world and the difference he made to many others is almost immeasurable. His lasting legacy arguably outshines the combined achievements of the many pop stars, actors and authors who were reported on following their deaths during 2016. The work Donald Henderson led on resulted in the eradication of Smallpox in 1977. This was the first human disease ever to be eradicated. A hugely important achievement as in the 20th century alone Smallpox was responsible for some 500 million deaths worldwide. For me, he really was the kind of person I would have liked to have sat next to at a dinner party.