Sophie was heavily involved in the recent BBC series, How to Stay Young which revealed dramatic health benefits from a change in diet and exercise.
“We are living longer than ever before, but we aren’t ageing well. More and more people are facing health challenges such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease”, says Sophie.
“As shown on How to stay young’, many people are living unhealthy lifestyles and making their ‘body age’ up to 30 years older than their ‘birth age’. Making simple lifestyle changes like these can have huge impacts upon your health.”
1. Get active! Try and increase your everyday activity so that you reach 10,000 steps per day. Research shows that 10,000 steps is related to a number of health benefits. Buy an activity tracker to help you monitor your steps. Some ideas to help:
-Ditch the bus or car and walk/cycle to work.
-If you can’t do this, then park your car further away from your destination or get off the bus one stop earlier.
-Take a lunch time walk.
-Ditch the lift and escalators and take the stairs.
-Reduce your time spent sitting at work. Get up every 30 minutes and walk about. Or try a standing desk.
2. Make sure you incorporate some short periods of higher intensity exercise in your week. Research shows that even just three 20-30 seconds of high intensity exercise, 3 x per week can improve heart health. A good indication that you are doing higher intensity exercise is that you should feel breathless and shouldn’t be able to talk easily. Stair and hill climbs are a good way of challenging your heart.
3. Try and do some resistance exercises, at least twice a week. You lose muscle as you age, and this accelerates once you hit 40. This doesn’t have to be in a gym, but body weight exercises at home such as lunges, step ups, press ups and burpees can be very effective.
4. Following a Mediterranean style diet has proven health benefits. Fill up on vegetables, wholegrains, dairy, seafood, pulses and nuts. If you are struggling to maintain a healthy weight, cut back on carbohydrates. As you age, the amount of calories you need declines therefore you probably don’t need to eat as much as you did when you were younger.
5. Cut back on refined sugars which are mainly found in cakes, pastries, biscuits and sugary drinks. It’s fine to enjoy treats now and again, but these foods spike your blood sugar levels and increase fat storage around important organs in your body.
6. Sleep is important for good health. During sleep, your body carries out a number of important functions such as repairing damage and releasing important hormones. If you struggle with sleep, try and minimize the time you spend looking at a screen just before bed and reduce napping throughout the day.
7. Enjoy the outdoors! Make the most of any opportunity to being outside, and especially make an effort to get in green spaces. Research shows it’s not just good for physical health but also mental health, and increases your vitamin D levels!
8. Skin ageing can be slowed down by wearing SPF which protects against sun damage.
9. The one everyone knows, stop smoking and limit alcohol intake.
10. Carrying too much fat, especially around the middle leads to a number of complications we see with ageing. If you follow the steps above you should be on your way to improving your weight. Remember that if you are eating more calories than you are burning, you will store these excess calories as fat. Losing weight is much easier to achieve by focusing on your diet. Exercise is good for heart and mental health, but isn’t very good at helping you lose weight. To burn off just one Costa caramel shortcake I would have to run at a fast pace for 50 minutes!!
So reduce your calories if this is a problem. Some tips for this:
-Reduce your plate size. This helps with portion control.
-Load up on vegetables. They can fill you up and are less calorie dense than carbs.
-Limit the amount of carbs on your plate.
-Include healthy sources of protein in your diet-its keeps you fuller for longer.
-It’s a myth that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that you need three meals each day. If you find it easy to skip a meal, then do that. As long as you don’t overcompensate on the next meal.