The developed world is facing a growing crisis from chronic conditions and diseases. In the UK, almost 60 per cent of the population are on their way to being obese and more than seven million people live with heart disease. Yet much of this could be prevented, including 80 per cent of cardiovascular disease, by addressing simple risk behaviours.
Personal health can to some extent be controlled with the help of easy-to-use technology for monitoring well-being that also offers personalised guidance. Nikos Anastasopoulos, business development director for personal health programs at Philips, says: “We have connected health devices and programs helping people to make small changes that could have a big impact on people’s overall health and lifestyle.” Here are five easy ways to boost your chances of a longer, happier life.
Good sleep allows the body to repair itself daily. “Sleep is as vital for survival as food and water,” says Philips sleep expert Anwen Evans. “In our rush to meet the demands of work and family, social lives and household tasks, we incur sleep debt exactly as you would incur financial debt.”
Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a growing issue – and one that only 20 per cent of sufferers are aware they have. If left untreated, OSA can increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. There are excellent treatments being pioneered by companies such as Philips – so if you are waking up after eight hours in bed and still feeling extremely tired, visit your GP.
This doesn’t mean a frantic hour at the gym once a week. Integrate exercise into your daily life in a fun way. Brisk walking, enough for you to get slightly out of breath, is brilliant for health and well-being. It can often be easily integrated into your day – walking in your lunchbreak or to work (or the station). There’s no need to jog. Gardening and dance are other excellent activities with instant health benefits – and also fun.
Air pollution – particularly from car exhausts – contributes to tens of thousands of premature deaths in the UK every year. Breathing in fumes is linked to chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer and heart disease, as well as damage to the brain, nerves, liver and kidneys. Particulates from cars have also recently been linked to dementia. So leave your car at home and take the train to work. Walk green routes rather than along busy roads.
This does not mean jumping on the latest superfood bandwagon. Hard science has found no evidence for any miracle food, whether obscure Amazonian berry or kale. Instead eat a balanced array of certain foods linked to healthy longevity. This includes oily fish, such as sardines or mackerel, beans, nuts (Brazils, not salted peanuts with a pint), seeds or pulses, whole grains and olive oil. Sweet potatoes are also good (rich in flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamin E and lycopene). And also cut out sugar.
Philips personal health programs offer a range of connected health devices including the health watch – a medical grade device that the company has pioneered to empower individuals to live a healthier lifestyle by tracking heart rate, resting respiration rate, VO2 max, activity and other vital signs. Used in conjunction with an app it can also measure sleep and nutrition, help monitor progress towards specific health goals and motivate individuals to boost well-being.
Mr Anastasopoulos says: “We are not talking about huge changes but a bit more activity, a better sleep overnight and watching what you eat. Our latest health programs will help you establish habits that could help health long-term.”