It’s easy to assume our bodies are in good shape. After all, if you don’t feel overweight and there aren’t imminent heath problems on the horizon, there’s no need to take action. Right? Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. That’s what Alison Richards, a 50 year old mother from Surrey, discovered when she took part in a 12-week study for BBC1’s How to Stay Young.
Led by Changing Health CSO Professor Mike Trenell and his eminent team of academics from Newcastle University, the study involved a series of tests on participants to discover whether their “body ages” differed from their actual ages. Importantly, it also tracked how making better lifestyle choices, with the help of the Changing Health programme, could turn things around.
The results, which include variables from body fat and BMI to cognition and mental wellbeing, were a big surprise for Alison. She had the body of somebody a quarter of a century older than her. “I was absolutely mortified!” she says. “It was a real shock. My body age was 75, and it made me think about the negative things I was doing to my body, and realise I needed to make some changes.”
Increasing her physical activity was top priority for Alison. “Whenever I go between floors at work now, I take the stairs. I gave up my parking permit and started walking to work, and that increased my weekly exercise level threefold.”
“It’s great to have somebody there saying ‘well done, you’re doing well."
Changing Health played a key role in empowering Alison to transform her life: “The app and the coach gave me ideas for exercises I could do, like the 7 minute workout, and ideas for diets and meals as well. It’s great to have somebody there saying ‘well done, you’re doing well’. I found myself running up and down the stairs a couple of times when I hadn’t done enough steps because I wanted to make sure I got them in. You’re basically in competition with yourself!”
The results were life changing for Alison. She began to feel much better, with more vitality – feel more, as she puts it, “up and about”. She lost almost 5 kilos, brought down her BMI by 3 points and reduced her body age by 7 years, a huge achievement in itself. But for her, the biggest benefit was a new lease of life.
“I’m running round and doing bits and bobs I’d previously have left until the weekend"
“It’s done me so much good – since I’ve got more energy I’m cooking more at home, and different kinds of meals, which is great for the people around me too. My husband was so supportive all the way through, and now he gets the benefits as well. Rather than going home and sitting down and waiting for whatever to start on the TV, I’m running round and doing bits and bobs I’d previously have left until the weekend. I don’t use the car anywhere near as much as I did – and in fact, we’re getting rid of it!”
Changing Health helps people with or at risk of Type 2 diabetes to look better, feel better and have more energy. It's currently being used by the NHS across the UK for patients via referral. To see if you're eligible for the programme please visit: www.changinghealth.com
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