Want To Live A Longer And More Healthy Life? Don’t Just Sit There –Get Active

Simon Bowers has been a GP in South Liverpool for 13 years. He comes to us each month to talk health. Follow him on Twitter @SIbowers
Simon Bowers has been a GP in South Liverpool for 13 years. He comes to us each month to talk health. Follow him on Twitter @SIbowers
IT’S that time again when social media, the internet and magazines are full of suggestions on getting fit, changing your life, improving your diet and inspiring general transformation. Not to sound too negative – but I’m sick of hearing it. Fads don’t work. Too many people take on big exercise programs, stupid diets and set unrealistic goals in January, just to be in a worse position than before come March, and actually feel worse in day-to-day life. I’m not saying don’t embrace new year challenges – I’m just saying do it the right way. Don’t think ‘exercise’ – think physical activity. And really, anything goes. Get off the bus a stop early, take the stairs, or chair based activities like chair aerobics. Park on the other side of the car park at the supermarket, walk around the block rather than walk direct to your destination. If you are really eager to step up the activity don’t set your goals compared to Olympic champions – compete with yourself. Think about what you did this time last year and do a little bit more AND DON’T STOP IN FEBRUARY. Up the ante each month if it’s realistic. If not – just keep going. What I’m trying to say is any increase in physical activity WILL improve your health. Even if you walk two minutes more a day and take the stairs a few more times. The benefits of physical activity aren’t just physical; they will help you mentally too. There’s loads of apps for your mobile or gadgets like pedometers or fitbits if you want that extra bit of support. Challenge your mates or work colleagues to see who can do the most steps or walk the furthest. In the words of Nike – Just do it – break through the fear of starting to be more physically active and you will thank yourself. If you try something (jogging for instance) and don’t enjoy it, walk instead. The food message is easy. If you can manage 5 a day that’s brilliant, if you can reduce your saturated fat, salt, sugar and red meat that fantastic but actually – just eat less. A glass of water can fill you up. At 11am if you’re starving (which loads of us are) have a glass of water. You’ll be surprised at the results. Your body will get used to taking in less food and you’ll see and feel results. Dry January is another popular talking subject – if anyone is still sticking to it! Drinking is usually a sociable activity so it can be tough to keep it up for a whole month. Again – don’t set unrealistic goals. Of course I wouldn’t encourage excessive drinking but if you’re going to do it, drink fewer and smaller drinks (it’s not bad for the wallet either. Think of the money you will save). It’s about making small changes which you believe you can stick to in lots of little areas than one big change which will be doomed to fail. Don’t make January the month you changed – make 2016 the year you changed. Why Won’t Doctor See My Son? Dear Doctor I tried to get an appointment with GP for my son who had a nasty sounding cough and I was told there are no appointments and I should ring back or go to a walk in centre. I’m also seeing in the media that we are encouraged not to go straight to A&E. What’s the point of GPs if they can’t see us when we are ill? Kenny Webster, Norris Green Dear Kenny I’m sorry to hear that was your experience when speaking to your practice and I hope your son is feeling ok now. All Liverpool Practices are able to offer same-day assessments either by phone or face to face for their patients. However, you will have seen in the press recently that there is a recruitment crisis in general practice and the NHS is struggling to meet demand in both general practice and hospitals. Liverpool has added more than 50,000 GP appointments this winter and many people who come to my practice could actually get great advice from NHS choices, NHS 111 or their local pharmacy. There are also still far too many people who make appointments and fail to turn up. Speak to the practice manager at your practice to discuss your concerns. Old wives’ tales A ‘good frost’ in the winter will kill the germs. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. When temperatures hit zero hospital admissions go through the roof! Heartburn during pregnancy indicates a baby with more hair Haha! Absolute nonsense.