Saturday 24 March 2018

The Saturday List #170 - Ten ways to improve your health in Mill Hill!

This is a list I've been meaning to write for some time. One of my new years resolutions was to get fitter and lose weight. We are now nearly a quarter of a year through. How has it been going? Well the weight is down from 17st 5lbs to 15st13lbs. My wife bought me a fitbit for Xmas and my resting heart rate is down from 65 on 31st Jan to 51 as of yesterday, which I think means I've gotten fitter. I've met all of my exercise goals and have been averaging well over the 10,000 step goal. I've also met my goal to have three alcohol free days a week. I think this has helped with the goal. I have several incentives to see this through. I live in the shadow of Prostate cancer, I have my yearly consultation coming up, following the HiFu treatment two years ago. I have chronic back problems following an accident in 1988 where a car ran me over. As such I've tried all manner of things to try and keep the constant pain in check. I can't take anti inflammatory pain killers such as Neurofen, due to a stomach bleed I suffered in 1983. In short I'm a walking wreck. But I am still walking, in fact I still play football twice a week. So as you can probably now see, trying to keep healthy is a sensible idea.

Here is my personal list of ten things I do to try and keep myself healthy. Please note that I am a dyslexic punk rock guitarist, not a qualified medical professional, so any tips for improving your health are clearly not medically recommended!

1. Walk as much as possible. We are lucky in Mill Hill to have some fantastic walks. As an added incentive, we've got a dog. My favourite walks are across Arrendene and around the Darlands Lake Nature reserve. I also enjoy a stroll around Scratchwoods.

2. Play football. I play once or twice a week at Powerleague on Pursley Road. This is on the site of my old football teams clubhouse, so I've been playing on the site for nearly 40 years. Powerleague has all weather pitches and is a fantastic part of Mill Hill's infrastructure.

3. Yoga. Many men think that this is something just for "ladies of a certain age". It isn't, It is something you can either do in a class or at home. The stretching exercises and core strengthening are one of the reasons I've thus far managed to avoid surgery on my back. We have an amazing Yoga teacher at Mill Hill Music Complex if you are looking for a class. There are other great classes in Mill Hill as well. It may strike some of you as funny, but I've even written articles for The Londonist on the benefits of Yoga.

4. Eat healthily. In November, we took the decision to try and eat as healthily as possible, where possible with organic food. The benefits of organic food are often misunderstood. The chief benefit is the absence of pesticides in the food. We have little understanding of the long term effects of exposure to these chemicals. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was given a book called "Anti Cancer - A new way of life". It was written by a medical professional and gives all manner of advice on how to improve your chances of beating cancer or if not beating it, living as long as possible with it. Organic food is definitely something to consider. Waitrose have a great selection. Highland Organics butcher in Mill Hill East are good as is the greengrocers there. We use a delivery service from Abel and Cole for most of our veg.

5. Stress reduction. The effects of stress on the body are well documented. I have a strategy that I have two one hour periods every day where I do no social media and no electronic stimulation. I read, play guitar or meditate during this period. I have one in the morning and one in the evening. I try and avoid looking at my mobile phone when I am out as well. I'd strongly advise anyone to take up a musical instrument, draw/paint or other activities that allow your brain to be calm. I have also come to find attending religious services calming. As a child I'd find them hellishly boring, but being forced to do nothing for an hour is actually very invigorating, once you make the commitment to do it. I know it may not be for everyone, but it works for me.

6. Massage. With my back problems, I find that regular massage is very beneficial. In Mill Hill, we are very lucky to have Siam Sanctuary, which is an excellent Thai massage specialist. This makes a huge difference to the level of back pain I have to endure. Thai massage is very firm and not particularly relaxing, but you feel great after. It is all above board and many of the customers are female, my wife and daughters have had massages as well.

7. Osteopathy. At times, the pain from my back can be excruciating. At these times, I am lucky to have an Osteopath up the road in Millway. Dominic Eglinton is an excellent osteopath. I suspect that half of the people I know in Mill Hill have used Dominic at some point.

8. Swimming. Of all the forms of exercise you can do, swimming is the one that is easiest on the body. Unlike running or football, it doesn't impact on knees etc. We have Copthall swimming pool that is currently being redeveloped, which has excellent facilities.

9. Watch Live Music. Listening to music is a great way to relax and unwind. In Mill Hill we are lucky to have the Mill Hill Jazz Club. If you've not checked it out, it really is worth a visit.

10. Red Wine! The health benefits of red wine are well documented. A glass a day (not two bottles!) is believed to help combat heart disease and prevent cancer. In Mill Hill, we are lucky to have Mill Hill Wines, which is a fantastic wine shop. If you really want to be healthy, try the organic wines.

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