Saturday, 23 July 2016

Staying Healthy

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.


Stanley Blenkinsop said...

I'm exactly the same age as you and by the looks of your photograph about the same size too.
I also think regularly about my lifestyle as I notice things happening to my body caused by ageing.
I have three tips I would pass on.
Have a check-up including all the blood tests at least once a year.
Buy a blood pressure monitor - they're really quite cheap on Amazon - and use it once a day.If ever my BP strays into the higher readings,which it tends to do if I've been boozing more than usual,I pack in the pub until it comes back down.
And get a dog.The bugger's will soon let you know if you don't take them for a walk every day.

RedNev said...

We all choose, or perhaps stumble into, our lifestyles. The problem is that those bodies that might be expected to give us impartial advice, such as Alcohol Concern, have a near-abolitionist agenda of their own, and therefore cannot be trusted.

Curmudgeon said...

CAMRA deaths have a lot in common with rock star deaths. Because of the age cohort of the early CAMRA members, it's inevitable that those who die will be in their 50s and 60s and thus will appear to indicate a pattern of premature death. Those who are going to die in their 80s will still be very much alive.

On the other hand, last year one of the founder members of our branch, Phil Levison, died in his 90s, and many people said they had imagined him to be at least a decade younger.

Anonymous said...

Good advice Paul, and you've certainly got the hills on your doorstep.

One of my motivations to pack in the office job was the large number of 50-60 year olds I knew who died or had strokes in the last decades. Not big drinkers, but stress and sedentary lifestyles are big risk factors.

Paul Bailey said...

Thanks for the tips, Stanley. I had the full blood tests earlier in the year, and everything was normal, but I will look at getting a blood pressure monitor. We used to have a dog, and we occasionally look after other people’s (mainly relatives), but as they are a bit if a tie, we won’t be getting another.

You are right Nev, about Alcohol Concern. Some sensible, non-partisan advice would be useful, instead of the neo-prohibitionist distortion of the truth which they pump out all the time.

I’m not sure about your analogy between CAMRA members and rock stars, Mudge. I can’t speak for all, but whilst many of us enjoy listening to rock, I’m not sure where all the sex and drugs comes into the average CAMRA members’ lifestyle. The Eagles may have sung about “Life in the Fast Lane”, but I don’t think that applies to many of us.

Martin, as I mentioned in my post, I am fortunate in not being totally deskbound in my job. My office is on the first floor, but the laboratory I am responsible for is downstairs, so I am regularly popping down to check on things, as well as going into the factory to collect samples or return finished paperwork. I also found a good method of not just reducing stress, but eliminating it entirely. (Too lengthy to describe here, but if anyone wants to know, just send me an email).

I managed a really good walk today, right across the Greensand Ridge. More of that in my next post.