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The Columnist

My life and other disasters…

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turning 30

What I’d say to twenty year old me…

Continue reading “What I’d say to twenty year old me…”

Breaking News! 30 is NOT the new 20!

Continue reading “Breaking News! 30 is NOT the new 20!”

Want to live for longer?

I am turning 30 in a few weeks. There is no avoiding or delaying it and I’m not going to lie… I’m NOT happy about it. I like being in my twenties, I actually quite like being 29, on the cusp of adulthood – just enough maturity to hold your own in conversations with the older generation, but enough youth to justify jaegarbombs and an overdraft. A happy place in between Radio 1 and Radio 2, with the odd flick over to Radio 4 when I’m feeling intellectual.

I’ve made it my mission for the last few weeks to drink as little alcohol as possible and work out more than ever to ensure that I am physically prepared for the potential (inevitable) psychological and emotional meltdown that is due to ensue any minute now.

Considering how quickly the last decade has gone, and apparently it only goes quicker from here on in, thanks to my Gran, who politely pointed out ‘this is what happens when you get old’… I’ve decided that some lifestyle choices need to be put in place, permanently (not just when I’m feeling guilty after a bout of alcohol poisoning) to ensure that for the next thirty, forty, fifty years – I’m in tip top condition! Luckily, there are positive statistics to support the fact that we are all living longer.

Japan has the world’s highest life expectancy (82.6 years) followed by Hong Kong (82.2 years) and Iceland (81.8 years). The world average is 67.2 years and the UK average is 79.4 years. One thing that you can’t deny is that lifestyle has a major impact on lifespan (put the doughnut down) and I’m thinking that we should be learning from the nations that are outliving the rest of us.

Developed nations are seeing people live for up to ten years longer than their parents. “We’re living longer because people are reaching old age in better health,” said demographer James Vaupel, author and expert at Duke University’s Center on the Demography of Aging. So it’s really quite simple, if you maintain a healthy lifestyle while you are young,  you are more likely to reach old age in better health, increasing your chances of living for longer.

Life expectancy changes as you get older.  For example, the life expectancy of a child increases significantly once they reach their first birthday. As they get older, their chances of living longer increases year on year. For example, the average life expectancy from birth for those in the United States is 77.7 years, but those who live to age 65 will see their life expectancy increase by almost 18 additional years. This takes their life expectancy up to 83 years.  So the key is to reach these milestones in good health to increase your chances of adding on more years.  There are many lifestyle choices and changes that you can make, which will certainly increase your chances of living longer and improve your overall health.

Apparently, according to Vaupel, if life expectancy continues to rise at the same rate as it has over the past two centuries, then it’s likely that half of the children alive today, in the developed world, may make it to 100 years.

Want to make sure you are maximizing your chances of seeing 100 birthday candles?  I do! At 100, a 30 year old will seem like an infant! Here are some adjustments that you can make to your lifestyle, which might just give you a few extra years:

Balanced Diet

About 40 per cent of cancers are diet related, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. Eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day can help to reduce your risk of cancer of the lung, digestive tract, bowel, bladder and breast.

Sweet potato

Loaded with vitamins, iron and magnesium, they are packed with health boosting nourishment.  They are also low on the glycaemic index so a great alternative to potatoes, which can leave you bloated and with a sugar low.

Blueberries

One of the highest concentration of anti-oxidants has earned the blueberry ‘superfood’ status. Anti-oxidants are vital in protecting the body from free radicals, the main cause of aging in living cells.

Exercise

Keeping fit is one of the most important ways to stay healthy. It’s medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have:

  • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
  • up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
  • a 30% lower risk of early death
  • up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
  • up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
  • a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
  • up to a 30% lower risk of depression
  • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

Sex/intimacy

Being sexually active, not only lowers blood pressure and stress levels, but also boots immunity, heart health and self-esteem.

Fun

Gelatology, the study of laughter, (it’s actually a thing!) has brought to light some fascinating facts about laughter.  Not only does having fun improve alertness and creativity, but it’s a natural pain reliever as laughter helps the pituitary gland release its own pain-suppressing opiates

Sleep

Getting enough sleep is vital for overall health.  Not only can it improve athletic performance, attention spans and memory, it has also been proven to reduce inflammation, linked to heart disease and stroke, as well as reduce the likelihood of suffering from depression.

Read

Not only is it great for keeping your brain ticking but reading for pleasure has been shown to help people to relax and improve mood.

Get a pet

Pets can have an extraordinary impact on the lives of their owners. From lowering blood pressure to lessening anxiety, not forgetting the great benefits of regular exercise if you are walking a dog on a daily basis.

Relax

Evidence demonstrates that stress is comparable to other risk factors that we would commonly consider as major, like hypertension, poor diet and lack of exercise. It’s impact on our health is huge so, whether you choose meditation or a hot bath, it’s important to take time out each day to relax and unwind.

Making a few adjustments to your everyday life can make all the difference for and the sooner you start to make these changes, the quicker you’ll begin to feel the benefits. See you in seventy years! 🙂

Tick tock, clocks and puppies

The clocks are changing this weekend so we get back that hour that was snapped away at the beginning of a hopeful but disappointingly damp summer.  I’m glad to have it back actually. Mainly because I fell asleep by accident for an hour earlier in the week, which was totally unnecessary (whilst trying to read) so I’ve justified my afternoon nap with a brand new hour to replace it.

Another clock that, until very recently, I thought of as an urban myth is that of the ‘biological’ nature.  I presumed it was something the marketing department of mothercare cooked up in some sort of baby boom propaganda. Part of their 5 year strategy to boost sales.  Either that, or it was specifically coined by my mother solely for the use of trying to get a grandchild out of me, instilling fear that this ticking time bomb would eventually blow up in a mass explosion of hormones, leaving me childless and alone forever.

Turns out, the whole biological clock thing… not a myth. It’s really quite upsetting. I was happy back in the day, when I thought babies were cute and something that I might do, I might not. Breezy. Much like I would approach a triathlon… ‘Looks like a challenge, might be fun. Not sure if I’ll do it or not, but the option is always there.’  But now, it’s like saying: Triathlons are only open to women under 38 and if you don’t get yourself a wetsuit, a bike and start training asap, then you may NEVER have the chance to ever take part. EVER!  Not entirely sure whether the man in this metaphor is the wetsuit or the bike… but you catch my drift…

This is the problem when you approach your thirties. At 29, I still feel like a lot of my behaviour is justified (alcohol abuse, driving a ridiculously clapped out old banger, not having a real job etc…) by that lovely little ‘Two’ that fronts my age. A Two is like a soldier going into battle, any number behind it is safe…The Spartacus of youth. Even a quivering Nine, knows that it has a full 12 months safe behind the authoritative Two, still blissfully ignorant on the final cusp of youth. An age that is headed up by a Two is strong and bold, it has a sword and a shield! A Two can handle anything. Hangovers, deadlines, the military precision required to successfully attain glastonbury tickets

But 30. A Three? An age headed up with a Three would be like going in to battle head first before pulling the reins of your horse shouting ‘Wait!, wait a second…’ only to wriggle weirdly for a few seconds before pulling a bra out from under it’s sleeve with an exclamation of ‘That’s better. Cuppa?’ then retreating quietly and contentedly, most likely to the sofa.

Don’t people in their thirties drive cars with ample storage space for impromptu trips to the early learning centre? Doesn’t this mean they all have babies?  Am I behind the times?  It’s a bit annoying really as I still feel that if I got pregnant now, that it would be a scandal I’m too young for, a disaster of monstrous proportions and would possibly make the local newspaper while I fill out my application to Jeremy Kyle. There are Jeremy Kyle regulars that are my age and are grannies! So I think that ship has safely sailed. I made it to my third decade without any teenage scandal resulting in daytime television fame! Horrah!

I don’t know why they bother with this whole going back an hour thing… why can’t we all just decide that there was definitely not enough daylight in 2012 so, at midnight, the world will revert back to 2011? That’ll buy me another year before the inevitable psychological trauma that will ensue on blowing out 30 candles next July. Will I be overcome with feelings of failure, under-achievement and start raving that I must-be-a-mother? That biological clock has gone digital and ready to go crazy, much like the predictions that everything would go haywire at the turn of the millennium. It’s the hormonal equivalent to the Y2K Bug apocalypse conspiracy!

So, despite becoming more acutely aware of the clock, I have decided to try to quiet it down for the time being.  Firstly, I will suggest my ‘Daylight Savings Year’ to the Government – see how that one flies – then I think I will get myself a puppy.  Surely that will temper/fool mother nature a while, before I’m banished from youth and forced to be wise and sensible? I’ve only got a few more months of justifiably irresponsible behaviour. A 30 year old wouldn’t commit to getting a dog, they would consider the consequences; what to do when we go on holiday, miss the train, fancy a spontaneous trip to Amsterdam because it was on Groupon… That’s why I have to do it now.

The Kennel club website has come up trumps. Viewing tomorrow 🙂

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