A few months ago comments surfaced on a number of different blogs which got me thinking about the health issues associated with excess drinking. One comment in particular read, “Anyone who reads as many CAMRA branch obituaries, for blokes in their 50s and 60s, as I do will know that not all committed drinkers make it to their 80s in good health.”
This unfortunately is only too true; as these days it seems hardly a month goes by without yet another obituary appearing in the pages of the CAMRA newspaper,. “What’s Brewing”. Given that the Campaign has approaching 180,000 members, this perhaps comes as no surprise, and it could also be said that whilst CAMRA started out primarily as a young persons’ organisation, many of those original members have now reached an age where the statistical odds of them shuffling off this mortal coil have significantly increased.
I was 19 years old when I first joined CAMRA, back in 1974. I celebrated my 61st birthday a few months ago, so I not only fall into the category of someone who has spent the majority of his adult life as a member of Europe’s most successful consumer organisation, but I am reaching a time in my life where it would be prudent to pay more attention to my health and general well-being.
I don’t feel old, and I certainly want to carry on enjoying a few glasses of beer for as long as possible. So, given the gloomy comment in the opening paragraph, how can I achieve this modest desire whilst at the same time live to a ripe old age?
I would like to think I am sensible enough to not abuse my body and put my health at risk by over-indulging; but would imagine that more than a few of those sadly departed CAMRA members thought the same thing. So without turning this into some kind of moral crusade about the adverse affect “heavy” drinking has overtime on the human body, I want to take a different tack; one which I believe is equally important when it comes to ensuring longevity.
I have enjoyed walking since my early teens. Living in a small village, with poor or non-existent public transport links, meant it was quite often necessary to resort to shank’s pony as a means of getting about. I’ve also got the leader of the youth group I was a member of to thank for taking us on Youth Hostelling holidays to places like the South Downs, the Peak District and North Wales. These holidays involved a fair amount of walking and, whilst it may on occasion have seemed hard-going at times, just being out in the fresh air and enjoying the local scenery, instilled a love of the great outdoors which I still have today.
Several years ago a friend and I walked the entire length of both the South Downs Way and the Weald Way, and I still enjoy a ramble whenever the opportunity arises - especially if a stop at a country pub is involved en route!
About a year ago, I heard an article on the radio entitled, “It’s the sitting down that kills you”. Apparently research has shown that sitting down in excess of six hours a day makes you up to 40% more likely to die within 15 years than someone who sits for less than three hours. This applies, even if you exercise.
Fortunately, as stated earlier, I’ve always been fairly active and my current job allows me to walk around the factory on a regular basis. I also go for a walk most lunchtimes, covering between a mile and a mile and a half. This allows me some exercise before getting back to my sandwiches and a cup of tea. I really enjoy being out in the fresh air and getting away from the factory, whilst the rural setting surrounding my workplace adds to my enjoyment. Following a small number of set routes also allows me to appreciate the changing seasons; something which is obviously far more noticeable in the country than it is in a town.
Taking regular exercise is just one of a number of ways to improve one’s chances of remaining fit and healthy into old age. I touched briefly on the importance of moderating one’s alcohol intake, but of equal importance is the food we eat and the type of diet we follow.
A discussion on nutrition is beyond the scope of this post, and possibly even this blog, so to end I would like to return to the subject of walking, and mention one regular and prolific blogger whose efforts don’t just put my lunchtime strolls to shame, but positively dwarf them.
I am referring of course to Retired Martin whose excellent blog chronicles his quest to visit every new entry in the current CAMRA Good Beer Guide, whilst combining his visits with as much walking as possible. I have been an avid reader of Martin’s blog, since he started it a couple of years ago. During this time he has introduced readers to the delights of towns they would never have thought of visiting; places as diverse as Altrincham, Stourbridge, Weston Super Mare, Leicester and Wigan, to name but a few.
With an eye for the off-beat and even outright eccentric, which he captures with a dry sense of humour on his blog, Martin often includes details of the walks he undertakes as part of these pub visits. So I take my hat off to this fellow pub-lover and walker, and trust that once I am work and mortgage free I too will be able to emulate him, albeit in a slightly smaller and less intense way.
For those wishing to read further about the perils associated with a sedentary lifestyle, the following website provides useful information on how to change your routine in order to moderate, or even prevent these dangers.