A List for Life

I like to think my blog provides everyday solutions to real world problems, and when necessary a real world solution to an everyday problem. Within this narrow niche I have solved the UK debt crisis, invented and subsequently cured health syndromes, correctly adjusted your cycle saddle, revealed the future of international medicine, took on obesity, and saved you a fortune in fancy trainer buying habits. But I hear you… all this is pointless unless you live longer. It is irresponsible of me to wade through these major issues if you as a reader are not going to hang about to enjoy the benefits. So this afternoon I had a think about it. Ate some pilchards on toast (be patient.). And then decided to get on with extending each and every one of your existences. After a bit of “Loose Women”.

Both me as your new life coach, and you as the soon to be longer liver, need a strategy. It needs to be defined and clear. Not just general advice… that’s lame. You need a prescription for life, a recipe, steps to implement today. A list. A list. BOOM…

Bob Wood Blog

Lists are everywhere. In the media, sport, politics, music. Top Tens. The internet is crammed with Top Tens. Lists are easy to understand. Lists are popular. Lists are proven. List me 5 reasons why I shouldn’t use lists to get this done:

Number one: You already know the list. Eat well. Exercise more. Decrease stress. Be proactive about your health.  Etc.

But that is the wrong list. No… hang on… it is the right list, but it’s not detailed enough. You need much clearer instructions. Exactly what to do. You are leading such busy and short lives that you can’t get round to the details. But don’t worry, I have been on it.

“You are what you eat”. Which is why I have a slightly fishy smell about me today. But you absolutely know it. You need to be eating healthy foods. In fact that advice is too ill-defined. You need to be eating the top ten healthiest foods. But what are they? Lets do some listonomics. I researched  the most popular and accessible healthiest food lists from various sources. I restricted these to only providers of Top Tens, and I spread the resources in terms of what I will call “browness”. We had low brow contributions from sources such as The Daily Mail and Good House Keeping Magazine. We went mid brow with sources such as Best Health and The Independent, and we climbed to the higher brow region with sources such as Medical News Today and The Mayo Clinic. What was clear was that all these sources were using the same resources to construct their lists. In fact one identical top ten list was offered by 3 sources… interestingly without naming the original source. Saucy. Anyway.. here is what I found. The most common top ten was:

Lemons, Broccoli, Dark Chocolate, Potatoes, Salmon, Walnuts, Avocados, Garlic, Spinach and Beans.

All pretty accessible stuff and not difficult to obtain. Most of it you’ll find in a Tesco Express, or even a fuel filling station.  A top ten offering from the medium brow sector went:

Apples, Almonds, Broccoli, Blueberries, Oily Fish, Dark Leafy Vegetables, Sweet Potatoes, Wheat germ, Avocados, Oatmeal.

And from the higher end we get this one:

Blueberries, Garlic, Olive Oil, Broccoli, Plain Yogurt, Oatmeal, Flax seeds, Cinnamon, Tea, Beans.

So now we have our agreed lists from varied sources we should analyse them… and this is what we find. The research reveals that there is only one super food. It reigns supreme and is the only food to appear in all three lists. All other foods are less super. And it is broccoli. You will learn to love broccoli.

Double showings come from blueberries, oily fish, beans (legumes), oatmeal, garlic and avocados. And the common threads are leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds, sweet potatoes and a fruity source of vit c.

There is science behind this. Lets take apples. Researchers at Florida State University describe apples as a “miracle fruit”. Why should we believe them? I’ll tell you why. Because another list tells me that Florida as a state is 51st in the US commercial apple growing industry, only coming in ahead of Alaska. Those FSU researchers have no ties with state agriculture and industry… if they were trying to dupe us they would be holding a banner for turkey legs and 24oz supercups of butter beer. If they say apples are good, then that’s the first reason to believe them.

Blueberries. Expensive and always a bit disappointing. Look great, but mostly bland and mushy. But once again they have support from the boffs. Proper published boffs tell us they can reduce cognitive decline, slow down adipogenesis (fat cell development), and reduce coronary risk in women. My local boff club is The University of East Anglia, which appears at number 71 in the World University Top 200 List. UEA researchers found that the anthocyanins in blueberries can reduce hypertension (high blood pressure) by 10%.  They then moved on to the flavonoids in blueberries and found that they are associated with a reduced risk of erectile dysfunction… link here.

The UEA continues to be one of the major research establishments investigating blueberries and are currently looking for volunteers for a further study into heart disease. To take part you have to be a non smoker, and for men a waist size over 40 inches, for women it is 35 inches…  and like blueberries. Free berries! The number to ring is in the link above.

That’s food sorted so now lets move on to exercise. You need to do some. Or more. More is better when it comes to exercise, but not so much with food. So exactly what do you do? I have decided on a two pronged attack in this area. My first prong considers general exercise choices. What do the top ten lists tell us? There are a lot of them. Offerings range from big hitters like Men’s Health magazine, to the gold standard in trustworthiness The BBC . But I am not going to go for a meta-analytical approach this time. I am going in hard with the biggest hitter of all and trusting their own list… Harvard Medical School. Being Harvard they don’t do a top ten, they are much more precise. They do a top five. And it is:

Swimming… no surprise.

Tai Chi… slight surprise but can see it.

Strength Training… can never do enough.

Walking… go long.

Kegel Exercises… total curve ball, didn’t see it coming.

It’s a good list, and even the Kegels do make sense. Strip it down and I am going to go with strength training and walking as the big guns. They need to be done properly though. With effort. One needs a lot of effort over a short period of time, the other needs a lot of time to accumulate the effort. No effort, no effect.

The second prong is much sharper. I like Harvard’s list but we need to be more surgically precise with this thing called exercise.  You need to know exactly what to do. You need a list of the top ten exercises… ever. You need a ten point workout for life. Don’t Google the top ten exercises. You will be smashed into knowledge overload oblivion by choices, options, conflictions and temptations. It’s dangerous and you need a brave but dedicated professional like me to do it for you. Hence the pilchards. This afternoon I prepared for my mission by tooling my brain up with Vit D, fatty acids and selenium from this actual can:

Then I waded into Google hard. List after list, mouse click after mouse click. Pilchard power kept my focus and I ignored the chiselled personal trainer promises, the popular press gumph, the fads and the meatheads. And I found it. Agenda free. Pure and sensible advice. And boy did it surprise me. Like being slapped in the face with an oily fish.

Your list is “The Top Ten Exercises for Roller Derby Athletes”. I know… not exactly what you expected, but a longer life throws up surprises. In the United States, Roller Derby goes the full Elvis. I don’t think there is anything more mad and bad. But it absolutely wreaks of fun and attitude! Now everybody knows that there is nothing more sensible than Sweden, but even over there they let their daughters loose in a sports hall, as you can see here.

Taking part in full contact Roller Derby may not be top of our list of life extenders, but it turns out training for it is. My Google mission took me to a website with 10 fundamental exercises that offer a decent workout for aspiring rollers. They are basic bang for buck winners… trusted choices that work. There is some flexibility, some balance and a big chunk of strength amongst the 10. And that will do nicely. Squats, lunges, push ups, planks etc and, when ready, a bit of overload lifting. Stuff that makes you strong. And according to Dr Rachel Cooper of the Lifelong Health and Ageing Unit at University College London, strong people live longer. I am somewhat paraphrasing her years of research here, but trust me she knows stuff, and has a crushing hand shake. We have a lot to learn about foundation strength and mortality but work like this link from Doc Cooper is invaluable (and it is published in the British Medical Journal which definitely out “brows” Good Housekeeping). Why I am so interested in this is because it is so doable. Anyone can get stronger, at any age, any time. Its free, simple and available to all. Strength underpins health. It only costs effort.

So back to these ten exercises that you are going to do. HERE THEY ARE … that’s the link. The videos show you exactly what to look for in an uncomplicated selection of foundation exercises. The bottom line is that there are plenty of interpretations of these exercises out there but none of them are being taught by someone with the best name ever…  Booty Quake. I am guessing that it may be her roller alias… but do it like Booty and we are all going to get somewhere.

So the final Top Ten is simple but it will buy you some time.

    1. Eat Broccoli
    2. Eat Pilchards
    3. Walk a long way regularly
    4. Do some squats and lunges and press ups etc
    5. Do 3 and 4 with a lot of effort
    6. Celebrate with an avocado
    7. Print this shopping list
    8. Cycle/walk/roller skate to you nearest supermarket with this list
    9. Have a stretch before your baked potato and salmon supper
    10. Make simple CHANGES… watch and listen to this, it might surprise you.