Having grown up as a keen sports man and leaving school to pursue a career in Professional Football, I had always taken for granted that I was pretty fit and healthy. However, the early onset of arthritis ended my professional football playing career but I have always, or at least tried to, maintain a healthy lifestyle.
It’s been six years since I ran the London Marathon and after starting a family, visits to the gym have been more of a luxury than a necessity so somewhat less of a priority. But, with Littlest View From a Daddy turning one this year, I thought it was time I needed to get back to building up my fitness level. After all, I’m not getting any younger and my ability to pound the streets for a quick 5K is not feasible with my dodgy joints. The demands of darting around after two children under five as well as being in charge of the chores takes its toll on my energy levels. So, I decided it was time to take control and exert a little more care over my diet and exercise patterns (or at the very least try to establish something resembling a pattern).
In my decisive act, I have recently joined Nuffield Health, Cannock where I knew that I could have an Health MOT to set me in good stead for the steps I need to take to get me back on track. A Nuffield Health MOT offers a 12-point test that all members receive upon joining and again at regular intervals thereafter. To be honest, I thought I would breeze through it without any concerns except for it perhaps highlighting my love of coffee and the occasional flapjack! How naive I was!
My Health MOT was with Christina, a Wellbeing Personal Trainer at Nuffield Health who was there to meet me in reception ahead of my appointment time and talk me through the process involved to put me at ease. She explained that the Health MOT measures a number of things including:
- Body mass index (BMI)
- Resting heart rate
- Waist to hip ratio
- Aerobic fitness
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar level
She also explained that she would be asking me about my lifestyle and habits (the flapjacks and coffee were bound to surface after all) but she confirmed that she wouldn’t judge me so the pressure was off. In summary, the Health MOT enquired about whether I smoked (nope), how much alcohol I consumed (not an awful lot – early mornings don’t allow for that sort of thing anymore), my water intake (could be better), the caffeinated drinks I consume (sharp intake of breath) and my sleep habits (as much as I can get) which was all used and combined to give me my health score at the end of the assessment.
In total, it took about 55 minutes with firstly a detailed questionnaire about my diet, fitness and lifestyle and then weight, height, waist measurment, the blood presure monitor, an indication of my VO2 max calculated using my resting heart rate rather than pounding a treadmill with a face mask on, a check of my cholesterol and finally a measure of my blood glucose achieved via a prick to the finger to extract a small sample of blood (not too bad even for the squeamish). I think I scored quite well but it did highlight a few areas to address.
Here are my Health Scores:
BMI: healthy (I’ve got this)
Waist to Hip Ratio: moderate (my belt buckle had probably already warned me of this if I was being honest)
Systolic Blood Pressure: very high level (absolutely no clue)
Diastolic Blood Pressure: high level (see above)
VO2 max: average (a relief)
Resting Heart Rate: normal (phew)
Cholesterol: raised level (what??)
Blood Glucose: good (what does this even mean?)
Christina then gave me a detailed breakdown and explanation about what all this meant. I won’t deny that hearing my cholesterol was high came as some what of a surprise and to find my blood pressure was at an unexpected measure also threw me so I was very welcoming of any clarification. Fortunately, Christina then issued me with some guidance and advice about how to move forward.
In conclusion my Health Score was: 57. A Health Score ranges between 6 and 100 with higher scores being better. I don’t usually score high blood pressure levels (despite what Mrs VFAD says) but with all the excitement of the tests, my blood pressure was showing a high level so I was advised to have this checked again with my GP before starting with my exercise plan – a bit of a set back but better to be safe than sorry. As expected, a follow up check with my GP showed that the reading had returned to normal which gave me the thumbs up to resume exercise.
The main concern for me was the raised cholesterol level and, after chatting with Christina, she advised me to take the following steps to reduce it:
- Increase exercise by 2.5-5 hours a week to make a real difference to my cholesterol levels (although this seems like a lot, over a week I think I could probably manage it)
- Introduce both aerobic and strength based exercise to help reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol levels (I better start mixing it up)
- Trying to eat fewer processed foods, full fat dairy products and meals with high levels of saturated fat in (full fat milk on huge bowls of Cornflakes may have to stop being my go to dessert)
In three months time and assuming I have followed the steps, the Health MOT will be repeated to see what progress I have made. It is my intention to follow the guidance not only because I’m writing a blog and you’ll judge me if I don’t follow her guidance but most importantly for my health. I’m fast approaching the big 4-0 so the healthier and fitter I can be, hopefully the better I can be for longer. So, watch this space. I’m off for now to find another 30 minutes for some balanced exercise…