Thursday, 31 March 2016

First Quarter of 2016 - health and fitness in numbers

Lent has come to an end, but the walking and sit-ups and healthy eating continue. With the end of the first quarter, time to sum up and compare the results with last year and 2014.


Q1 2014
Q1 2015
Q1 2016
Paces walked (total)
912,613
991,162
1,031,575
Km (miles) walked
730 km
(451 miles)
793 km
(489 miles)
825km
(509 miles)
Paces walked (daily average)
10,140
11,013
11,462
Sit-ups (daily average)
134
122
159
Alcohol (units/week average)
14.1
8.8
11.5
Portions fruit & veg (daily average)
-
5.1
5.3

If the slogan of the Garmin's current ad campaign for its wearable fitness products is 'Beat yesterday', mine is 'beat the same quarter last year'. As you can see, the progression in walking, sit-ups and fresh fruit & veg consumption is clear (I didn't track the latter in 2014). 

As for alcohol consumption, however, two things to bear in mind: 1) Prof Dame Sally Davies's new weekly target for the week is 14 units* and 2) Lent is a moveable feast, and though in none of the three Lents did I touch a drop, in 2014 it only started in March.

So – all going well. I'm considering adding press-ups to the routine from 1 January.

The walking was good this quarter. This was the first time I'd cracked a million paces in a three-month period. A daily average of 10,000 paces (8km) is not enough; more than 11,000 (9km) a day is required.

This was also a quarter in which I did not come down with a cold or flu. It's too early to be certain about this theory, but here goes. Whenever I felt THE VERY FIRST symptoms of a cold creeping up on me – that slight tickling on the roof of the soft palate – I determined the cold away, by visualising those nasty viruses, little round spiky balls, and blasting them away with killer thoughts like an inert-gas fire extinguisher. Several seconds in which I wished them gone, focusing my entire being on getting rid of them – and I'd wake up the following morning with no symptoms whatever. Three or four times this quarter I've had this. Too early to say that this is wishful thinking, but I'm convinced that mind-over-matter has worked here.

Why's all this health-related stuff important?

Look at it this way. You spend: 
  • 2-3 years in infancy.
  • 8-9 years in childhood.
  • 6-7 years in adolescence.
  • 9-12 years as a young adult.
  • 10-15 years in the prime of your life [usually absorbed raising children]
  • 15-20 years in middle age.
  • 20-30 years in old age.
Note the extended length of the last two stages. They're long and getting longer. Actually, they may end up constituting the bulk of your lifespan. To spend those years enjoyably, it behoves us to look after our health at every preceding stage. To quote the great Alexei Sayle: "When you're young, you're very devil-may-care, aren't you? 'Yeah, I'll drink that radiator fluid! WAAH!'" Later, you have to make up for it, "drinking nothing but mineral water, working out 28 times a day at the gym and eating only free-range organic radishes".

The life in balance calls for the right mix of diet and exercise as a regular, daily regime, keeping off the bad stuff (and sugar now seems to be the worse, worse even than unsaturated fats). 

* 1 unit of alcohol = 250ml of 4.0% beer, 25ml of 40% spirits, or (more difficult to measure in practice) 75ml of 12% wine. I have become obsessively fastidious as to measuring how many units I consume.

This time three years ago:

This time five years ago:
Cycling to work - the new season begins

This time six years ago:  
Five weeks into Lent

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