1 Get a tape measure and accurately record your height and waist size
Forget body mass index (BMI) and ideal height/weight charts. Just keep it simple and aim for a waist measurement that is less than half your height. It is likely to be a much better indicator of how much weight you should be carrying for optimum long-term health.
2 Buy a blood pressure monitor
One in three adults in the UK develops high blood pressure, and it often requires lifelong treatment, but are you really happy to take pills based on a few readings at your local surgery/hospital? Not me. Your own monitor is more likely to reflect what is really happening to your BP, which means any decision to start therapy won’t be based on anxiety-induced high readings when at the doctor’s (white coat syndrome). Look for average readings of 135/80 or lower for optimum health.
3 Make your next car a petrol one
The move to diesel in the quest for lower CO2 emissions is now widely accepted as a mistake for the health of those who live and work in built-up areas. Diesels are much “dirtier” than petrol cars in busy traffic, so switch to the new breed of super-economical cleaner petrol cars if you are shopping for one this year. Or consider going electric (I am hanging on until the tech gets better, which it is — rapidly).
4 Learn the signs of sepsis
Often referred to in the past as septicaemia or blood poisoning, sepsis kills about 40,000 people a year in Britain and typically starts with bacterial infections of the chest, abdomen or urinary tract, as well as rarer infections such as meningitis. Anyone of any age can develop sepsis and it often mimics much more common conditions such as flu and gastroenteritis. The mnemonic SEPSIS is a useful aide-memoire for what to look for. Seek medical advice urgently if you are unwell and develop any of the following: Slurred speech. Extreme shivering or muscle aches. Passing no urine (in a day). Severe breathlessness. “I feel like I might die.” Skin — mottled or discoloured. To which I’d add any rash — on you or your child — that does not blanch with pressure (use the side of a glass tumbler).
“See how your heart is ageing compared with your chronological age”
5 Check your heart age
If you need a prompt to change your diet and lifestyle, they don’t get much more graphic than this. See how your heart is ageing compared with your chronological age at nhs.uk/conditions/nhs-health-check/pages/check-your-heart-age-tool.aspx — or download the free JBS3 Heart Risk app at www.jbs3risk.com.
6 Eat more nuts
This year’s favoured superfood, on account of growing evidence that a good intake is associated with a longer, healthier life. Aim for no more than a handful a day and don’t include salted peanuts. My choice would be a mix of walnuts and almonds topped with a couple of brazils.
7 Get stronger
Much is made, quite rightly, of the need to be fit, but build strength too. Strong muscles are good for arthritis and thinning bones, they reduce the odds of falling and can prevent pains such as tennis elbow. The older you are, the greater the gains.
8 Make Saturday at home an internet-free day
Stop everyone staring at those screens and do something together, even if it is just talking. I couldn’t do a Sunday as Monday mornings are bad enough without a backlog of emails.
9 Cook more
Processed foods/ready meals are easy, but not always the healthiest option. Home cooking is good for family unity and good for your health (as long as it doesn’t involve too much carb-rich baking). If you do it with your children, you are also investing in their future.
10 Give up vaping
This won’t apply to many of you, but I bet that you know someone who is a vaper. While much less hazardous than smoking, it would be foolish not to expect the long-term inhalation of flavoured glycols to have some deleterious effect on your lungs. Use vaping to kick the weed by all means, but don’t do it for ever.