Monday, December 26, 2016
As traditional as mince pies at Christmas, starting a new health regime is a ritual many of us follow at the beginning of a New Year. But, are you someone who struggles to stay motivated on a diet and then after only a few weeks you find you’ve fallen back into old, bad habits?
Well, at Oxford Online Pharmacy we believe a great way to maintain a healthy lifestyle beyond the New Year is to have a full picture of your health credentials – not just your weight – before you start.
Imagine your health goals as destinations on a road map. In order to know how to reach these goals, first of all you need to know where you’re starting from.
Knowing your personal needs, rather than just generic targets, will also give the healthier options more relevance. For example, if you discover you are at risk of Type 2 diabetes, reducing your sugar intake isn’t just about losing weight, it’s about avoiding a long term condition that could have a huge impact on your quality of life.
The good news is you don’t have to make any GP appointments to start building-up a picture of your own health and why it’s important to make healthier decisions. There is a range of free, easy-to-use health assessment tools available online that will empower you with information at the click of a button.
To make it even easier, we’ve brought together our top three recommended health assessments for you to complete.
1. How healthy or unhealthy is your weight?
While you may know how heavy you are, do you know what your Body Mass Index is? This is a formula that gives an indication as to whether your weight is healthy in relation to your height and age. It is an important metric to track, as having a healthy BMI means you are at lower risk of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. Here’s a link to the NHS Choices BMI calculator.
2. Do you know your heart age?
Is your lifestyle ageing your heart beyond your years? Run your statistics through the NHS Heart Age Calculator and find out whether your heart is older, younger or the same age as the rest of your body. The calculator will also assess your risk of having a stroke or heart attack within the next 10 years – sobering thoughts, but it helps to put into perspective why taking the stairs to the next floor, rather than the lift, is a better choice.
3. Are you at risk of Type 2 diabetes?
There is a lot of media attention around Type 2 diabetes with hardly a day going by without a new report about the disease – for good reason. The charity Diabetes UK believes it to be ‘the fastest growing epidemic of our time’. The number of adults with diabetes in the UK has risen by 1.5 million in the past decade to 4.5 million. A further 1 million are estimated to have Type 2 diabetes but have not been diagnosed.
Unlike Type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease, Type 2 diabetes can be caused by lifestyle factors such as obesity, smoking and lack of exercise. To gain an understanding of your risk of Type 2 diabetes, take the online assessment. It is based on the Diabetes Risk Score which was developed by Diabetes UK, the University of Leicester and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.
Now you have a better idea of your BMI, heart age and risk of Type 2 diabetes risk, add your blood pressure numbers to the equation to achieve a more personalised result. You can visit your local pharmacy for a free blood pressure check or buy a home monitor so you can check on a more regular basis.
High blood pressure, known as hypertension, can be an indicator of stroke or heart failure. While it can be brought under control through diet, exercise and, if necessary, medication, it often doesn’t have any obvious symptoms, which it is why knowing your blood pressure numbers is so important.
Knowing your cholesterol levels will also help to give a clearer picture of your health and help you to tailor your lifestyle accordingly. Selected pharmacies provide cholesterol tests for a fee or you can buy testing kits and do it in the comfort of your own home.