Being physically fit and eating well is something we all aim for. However, we all take good health for granted. We generally only appreciate good health after a bout of ill health. Is there anything we can do or behaviour we can adopt to keep fit and prolong periods of good health? We also discuss how living a healthy lifestyle can potentially reduce costs throughout your life.
The cost of ill health
If you were asked to add up the cost of your ill health over a lifetime how much would it be? The countless doctors’ appointments, trips to A&E and impromptu hospital visits. They all come at great cost. We may rely heavily on the NHS in the UK but we still incur charges. Here’s just a few:
· Loss of earnings associated with sick days
· Hospital costs / private healthcare costs
· Care costs. NHS, private care or family care member can have huge financial implications
· Prescription charges. If you’re taking medicines regularly it can mount up to a small fortune
· Insurance policies – Smokers and people with health issues pay more for insurance
· Clothing costs – Unhealthy weight gain can cost you a whole new wardrobe
· Mental health – 1 in 4 people suffer with mental illness at some point in their lives. Can you afford the cost implications?
None of us want to be ill so is there anything we can do that will give us the best chance of remaining fit and healthy?
Maintain a healthy body weight
Being overweight increases your risk of developing serious health issues like certain cancers, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. The longer we remain at our ideal body weight, however, the risk of developing these issues reduces. So how do we calculate our ideal body weight and what can we do to maintain it for as long as possible?
BMI Calculator – Calculate your Body Mass Index
BMI is a rough calculation that indicates whether you are a healthy weight for your height and age. Once you have calculated your BMI number, you can see where you appear on the scale ranging from underweight to obese.
To calculate your BMI and check where you are on the scale use the NHS link below. Remember to come back to read the rest of this article:
To reduce your chance of illness simply aim to get your BMI in the green zone and keep it there. The longer you remain in the green zone, the larger the reduction of getting ill.
Here’s what else you can do to live a healthy lifestyle…
Regular exercise performed at least 150 minutes per week is one of the best ways of maintaining health. Exercise is one of the most frequently prescribed health solution recommended by Doctors. It can have significant beneficial effects on many aspects of physical health and mental health. The key to achieving physical fitness is to ensure you perform regular physical exercise. Note the focus on the word REGULAR! Even with the best intentions, we have periods of inactivity that can lead to weight gain. If you can get exercise routinely into your week you are most likely to achieve your goals.
If you don’t want to spend time at the gym or pounding the streets with your running shoes, there are many other things you can try.
- Walk everywhere – A little walk every day soon mounts up. By the end of the week you will be amazed how much exercise you can achieve. It doesn’t have to impact on your evening plans either so it has minimal impact on your lifestyle…
- A simple step counter can help monitor your number of steps. Aim to walk between 7,000 and 12,500 steps per day
- Walk to work or try parking a distance from work and walking the rest of the way
- Forget elevators and lifts. Always choose stairs
- Get outside in your lunch break. If lunchtime is allocated then use it to walk
- Sport – An hour spent playing your favourite sport can burn countless calories and help mental agility. Your competitive nature will give you a push to exercise harder than you would normally
Most of us are now eating more calories per day than recommended by the NHS healthy eating guidelines. On average, men should be consuming around 2,500 calories and women around the 2,000 calories per day mark. Eating just a small amount over these amounts each day will lead to gradual weight gain. Weight has an insidious way of just creeping up on us.
Are your clothes getting tight?
The simplest way to maintain your weight is by how comfortable you feel in your clothes. If they are getting tight, don’t contemplate buying a new wardrobe. Use your clothes as an indication to start a calorie controlled diet. A couple of weeks of diet and you’ll find your clothes feeling less snug. Its far easier to manage smaller fluctuations in weight. No one want to be on a strict diet indefinitely.
5 portions of fruit and vegetables
The NHS tells us that most of the UK population aren’t eating enough healthy fruits and vegetables. Aim to get a minimum of 5 portions per day. Try to mix it up to ensure you get a good mix of vitamins and minerals. Usually the brighter coloured the food, the better it is for you. Watch out for the hidden sugars in fruits. Fruit is seen as healthy but enjoying a large portion can easily push you over your daily calorie limit.
Reduce sugar intake
The HNS recommends we restrict eating any sugary items such as fizzy drinks, chocolates, sweets and cakes. If you are partial to a hit of sugar or feel the need for a dessert after a meal, you are probably stuck in a blood sugar cycle. This is where your blood glucose level can drop significantly when you don’t get your regular fix of sugar. The best way to negate these feeling is to cut sugar out completely for one week. You blood glucose level should balance itself out and you will no longer be stuck on your sugar rollercoaster.
Fuller for longer
Foods high in protein can actually help curb your appetite and keep you fuller for longer. The gut breaks down protein at a slower rate compared to other food groups. Try to incorporate fish, beans, peas, lentils and lean meats into your meals. If you are eating a lot of processed meats such as sausage, bacon, ham etc. recent research suggests that you should limit these to once a week maximum.
Try to think of being healthy as a way of life. Crash diets and exercise fads can work in the short term but to make real, lifelong differences to your health and fitness, you have to invest in your every day habits. Doing a little bit each day can add up to a healthy future.
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