10 Questions to check your Fitness and Well-being
When you were young, 'health' was something older people worried about. You never gave it headspace. It was about as relevant to your life as yak droppings. Every day you would wake up, probably around lunchtime, assuming that your body would just carry on where it left off. But now you have come to realize that not only is your body the only one you have got, but it's also at least a quarter of a century older than you would like it to be. Something has happened to it while you were having all that fun. Over the years it has tagged along, faithfully and more or less uncomplainingly, but now it's beginning to lose its sparkle and become a little frayed at the edges. And that's just the visible bits. Goodness knows what is going on inside.
Fortunately there's still time to take matters in hand and do whatever can be done to reduce the ravages of time - perhaps even reverse some of them. So, to get us started, here's a quick self-assessment fitness and well-being check.
10 Questions to check your Fitness and Well-being
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 have managed to make a difference.
1. Do Any of the Following apply to you?
- I wish I could lose a few inches off my tummy/hips/thighs/other bit.
- I have not got a fraction of the energy I used to have. I am getting so stiff. I have got to do something about it.
- I would 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 am tired all the time. Where did our love go?
- I feel all washed up.
IF YES, join the club. We have all been there. You can't really get to our age without having something threatening your health and well-being. Small changes really can make a big difference.
IF NO, I don't quite believe you. I did say if any of them apply, not all of them!
2. Do you Quickly Get short of breadth Walking upstairs or uplift?
IF YES, this is a clear sign not only that you are not as fit as you should be, but that you are 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 are doing this check-up.
IF NO, good to hear it. Let's see how you do with the other questions.
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. The other answer is to buy higher armchairs.
IF NO, more good news. Keep it up.
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 are not being stretched enough.
IF NO, you are not a ballet dancer by any chance, are you?
5. Do you find it difficlut to reach awkward places on your body when you are doing up your bra-strap, for example, or combining 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 are a traffic policeperson?
6. Can you put your big toe in your mouth?
IF YES, brilliant.
IF NO, I am not surprised - neither can I. Only very keen yoga practitioners and contortionists can still do this in their middle years, although perhaps it's something we should all aspire to.
7. How much exercise or physical activity do you have in a typical week?
Hardly any (apart from very light everyday activity). You are in 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). You are 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.
8. Do you eat atleast five portions of fruit or vegetables in a typical day?
IF YES, good, but why not aim for more? In some countries they are now going for nine a day.
IF NO, you are probably missing out on vital nutrients. Remember that a drink of fruit juice can count as one of your five, but potatoes can't.
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 are a vegetarian, in which case you can obtain the fatty acids through a plentiful intake of nuts and seeds.
10. Do you drink more than the sensible daily or daily limit for alcholol?
Go on - tot '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 not more than 3 or 4 units in 24 hours, or 21 units a week. Remember that we tolerate alcohol less well as we get older.
IF YES, you might have the beginnings of an alcohol problem. This won't necessarily show itself in obvious ways such as memory apses or strained relationships, but you may be building up to a more serious problem such as high blood pressure or liver trouble.
Small Changes can make Big Difference to Fitness
I hope that this quick 10-Question fitness check has given you at aleast a taster of the aspects of your life you might need to work on. Rather a lot perhaps.
But do not panic, Just take things a little at a time. Every small step towards a healthier way of life is giant for your well-being and fitness.