First things first: You wouldn’t be needing any scales, or tapes for measurement. Here is just a quick run-through of some of the main factors that might have an impact on your health. The idea is simply to get you thinking and help you take stock.
It might also be useful to revisit the questions in, say, 6 months’ time to see if you’ve managed to make a difference.
Q.1 Does any of the following apply to you?
- I wish I could lose a few inches off my tummy/hips/thighs/ other bit.
- I haven’t got a fraction of the energy I used to have.
- I’m getting so stiff. I’ve got to do something about it.
- I’d like to give up smoking, but it’s so hard.
- I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in ages.
- I know I drink too much, but so what?
- Relax? How can I relax when there’s so much to do?
- I’m not quite sure what healthy eating is exactly.
- I’m tired all the time.
- Where did our love go?
- I feel all washed up.
IF YES: Join the club. We’ve all been there.
You can’t really get to our age without having something threatening your health and well-being. And I’m so glad you’re reading this, because our website is all about getting you commit to tiny fitness goals and meet them one by one. Small changes really can make a big difference.
IF NO: I don’t believe you. I did say if any of them apply, not all of them!
Q.2 Do you quickly get short of breath walking , taking stairs, or going uphill?
IF YES: This is a clear sign not only that you’re not as fit as you should be, but that you’re probably nowhere near active enough.
Physical inactivity increases the risk of high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, heart trouble and a string of other problems. You really need to improve your stamina (staying power). The best way to start is by walking more, including more walking upstairs and uphill — something you can do straight away.
But perhaps, not just at the moment because we’re doing this check-up.
IF NO: Good to know that. Let’s see how you do with the other questions.
Q.3 Do you struggle to get out of low armchairs?
IF YES: You need to build up your strength — especially in your legs, but maybe also in your arms and trunk.
The answer is to do some strengthening exercises such as those we included in our eBook, “THINK BIG, START SMALL – The Beginner’s Bible to Fitness“. (Psst…It’s out. Go grab your free copy. Now!)
IF NO: More good news. Keep it up!
Q.4 Do you find it difficult to bend down to tie your shoelaces or pick up things from the floor?
IF YES: You need to improve your trunk suppleness by daily stretching exercises or some regular ‘bendy’ activity such as swimming, badminton, tennis or keep-fit. People often think that stiffness is an unavoidable part of getting older. But this is not so. It’s usually simply due to your muscles shortening, because they’re not being stretched enough.
IF NO: You’re not a ballet dancer by any chance, are you?
Q.5 Do you find it difficult to reach awkward places on your body when you are doing up your bra-strap, such as, or combing your hair at the back?
IF YES: You need to develop suppleness in your shoulders through activities or exercises that move your arms a lot. Again, badminton and swimming are particularly good for this. So is directing traffic.
IF NO: Maybe you’re a traffic police person!
Q.6 Can you put your big toe in your mouth?
IF YES: Brilliant!
IF NO: I’m not surprised – neither can I. Only very keen yoga practitioners and contortionists can do this in their middle years, although perhaps it’s something we should all aspire to.
Q.7 How much exercise or physical activity do you have in a typical week?
Hardly any (apart from very light everyday activity): You’re in grave danger of seizing up completely. More important, your inactivity is risking depression, obesity, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, back trouble, and a string of other disorders.
A fair amount (some regular moderate activity, such as brisk walking or fitness exercises, but not as much as the recommended amount – 30 mins per day): You’re doing really well, but not quite well enough. Build up the time you devote to moderate physical activity, sport or exercise. Even 10 minutes here and there will count towards your total.
Quite a lot (a total amounting to at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on at least 5 days a week): Very good. This is the recommended minimum level for all-round good health and well-being. Make sure you keep it up, especially through the winter months.
Q.8 Do you eat at least five portions of fruit or vegetables in a typical day?
IF YES: Good, but why not aim for more? In some countries they’re now going for nine a day.
IF NO: You’re probably missing out on vital nutrients. Remember that, a drink of fruit juice can count as one of your five, but potatoes can’t.
Q.9 Do you eat fish every week?
IF YES: The recommendation is twice a week, and at least one of these portions should be oily fish such as sardines, salmon, or mackerel, as these provide certain essential fatty acids which are good for the heart and circulation.
IF NO: Maybe you’re a vegetarian, in which case you can get the fatty acids through a plentiful intake of nuts and seeds. Plus, vegetarians really need to read this article on antioxidants, “Why Are Antioxidants So Important For Anti-Ageing?“, as they might be missing out on some good molecules.
Q.10 Do you eat whole grain cereals, wholemeal bread, whole grain rice or whole wheat pasta on most days of the week?
IF YES: Great going!
IF NO: It’s best to have at least one portion on at least 4 days a week. Unrefined starchy foods should form the staple of your usual eating pattern.
Q.11 Do you find it difficult to resist chocolates, crisps, biscuits and other wicked things?
IF YES: Me too. But we do have to exercise some restraint?
We can just work around our favorite desserts and relish both the moments and the dish. Check out our section on “Saying YES to distractions” in our just released eBook.
IF NO: You’re a winner.
Q.12 Do you drink more than the sensible daily or weekly limit for alcohol?
Go on total ’em up. How many lunchtime glasses of wine or pints of beer? And how about the evenings? More wine? A gin and tonic or two? A satisfying single malt? The sensible limit recommended for women is not more than 2 or 3 units in 24 hours, or 14 units a week. For men, it’s a unit more.
IF YES: You might have the beginnings of an alcohol problem. It won’t necessarily show itself in obvious ways such as memory lapses or strained relationships, but you may be building up to a more serious problem such as high blood pressure or liver trouble.
IF NO: Good luck dealing with the hangovers.
Q.13 Do you smoke cigarettes?
IF YES: Daily? What’s your score? Have you tried giving it up, or cutting down on the number? Our eBook does offer some great tips on this.
IF YES: Occasionally. Remember that, there’s no such thing as a safe cigarette. Every cigarette does some damage. My advice is to become a complete non-smoker.
IF NO: But I used to — brilliant! Best thing you ever did for your health, You’re reaping the rewards now.
IF NO: I’ve never been a smoker — even better. But if you spend significant amounts of time in a smoky atmosphere you may still be at risk.
Q.14 Are you overweight?
IF YOU KNOW: Cool. Work around it.
IF YOU DON’T KNOW: Check your BMI (Body Mass Index) and then work around it.
Q.15 Are you having all your regular check-ups?
IF YES: Then, never ignore the necessary steps you need to take to further improve your health and fitness.
IF NO: You could be missing important opportunities to head off future health problems or nip them in the bud.
Q.16 Do you usually sleep well?
IF YES: Send tips for our other readers too.
IF NO: This is likely to be affecting your health and well-being in all sorts of ways. So, begin by exercising a little. It certainly helps.
Q.17 Do you find it difficult to relax?
IF YES: Perhaps it’s hardly surprising when there’s so much to be done and to be concerned about. But there are ways in which you can use just a few spare minutes to achieve a state of deep relaxation.
Everyone has a different way of dealing with stress. Accordingly, the way of relaxing needs to be different too. From our eBook, find out a relaxation exercise best suited to your temperament.
Q.18 Are you happy with your sex life?
IF NO: Why not? You really need our eBook now.
Q.19 Do you quite often feel depressed?
IF YES: Not alone, I’d say. Many of us feel downhearted more often in our middle years. We tend to worry more, often about things that younger people would shrug off as part of life’s rich chaos. We may also feel low because of a ’empty nest’, failing health or missed opportunities.
Fortunately, even the bleakest of circumstances can be helped by taking a few simple steps.
Q.20 In general, would you say that, for your age, your health at the moment is good?
IF YES: Great. You will still find plenty of practical ways to hold “your youthful vitality”, vigour and well-being in our eBook.
IF NO: I’m so glad our book is out for you now. You will certainly find there are quite a few things you can do to really make a difference and help yourself back to full health.
References:  Young DR, Reynolds K, Sidell M, Brar S, Ghai NR, Sternfeld B, Jacobsen SJ, Slezak JM, Caan B, Quinn VP. Effects of physical activity and sedentary time on the risk of heart failure. Circ Heart Fail. 2014 Jan 1;7(1):21-7. doi: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.113.000529. PubMed PMID: 24449810. ^Back to Top^  Wokes F, Badenoch J, Sinclair. Human dietary deficiency of vitamin B12. Am J Clin Nutr. 1955 Sep-Oct;3(5):375-82. PubMed PMID: 13258511. ^Back to Top^
Last Updated: April 29, 2014
Next Scheduled Update: Jun 30, 2014