January is when I tend to think most about my health. That’s not to say I ignore it the rest of the time; it’s just that the overindulgences of Christmas and New Year force the subject to the front of my mind… for a short while at least, usually as long as it takes to come up with some resolutions.
While I don’t think I’m in particularly bad shape, there’s probably some room for improvement. And it would seem I’m not alone: according to the Health Survey for England, published in December, almost 90 per cent of the 8,000 adults surveyed had at least one lifestyle factor that was putting their health at risk, whether it be smoking, alcohol consumption, inactivity, obesity, or low fruit and veg consumption. More worryingly, just over half of them had between two and five of those risk factors.
And it’s not just our physical health – the Mental Health Foundation revealed that 74 per cent of the 4,600 UK adults surveyed early last year said that at some point in the previous 12 months stress had left them feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope.
Given those stats, it’s fair to say that health – either physical or mental – is a concern for all of us. What’s encouraging, however, is that most of us already have a pretty good idea of what’s required to maintain our general wellbeing: a varied and balanced diet, regular exercise, plenty of fresh air, contact with friends and family, a good night’s sleep and the occasional glass of red wine (maybe).
What this guide sets out to do is put a scientific spin on that advice. By delving into the finer points of exactly what happens to your body and brain when you do (or don’t) follow those guidelines, we’ll explain how you can increase your chances of enjoying a healthy and happy 2019