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Here you’ll find up to the minute news on lifestyle subjects related to Your Bigger Future™.

Having a Sense of Purpose helps you live longer

People who think their life has meaning and purpose die later than people with a lower sense of personal wellbeing, according to two recent studies.

About 9,000 people over age 65 were followed for eight and half years as part of a study published in the Lancet.¹ Researchers measured their wellbeing by giving them a questionnaire that gauged how much control they felt they had over their own life, and how much they thought what they did was worthwhile. The participants were then split into four groups, ranging from the highest to lowest levels of wellbeing.

Happier people tended to outlive their less fulfilled peers. Over the eight years, just 9% of people in the highest wellbeing category died, compared to 29% in the lowest category. Previous research has linked happiness to a longer life, and this new finding adds to the theory.

“There is quite good evidence from studies of people in nursing homes showing that those who have something to do and look forward to tend to be in a much better state,” says study author Andrew Steptoe, director of the University College London Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care. “I think one of the fundamental ideas is that of autonomy and sense control of their life. People can feel life is just rushing by, or once they quit working their purpose can narrow to some extent.”

Steptoe says it’s possible to engineer environments that encourage greater wellbeing, like bringing pets into nursing homes or having residents partake in gardening.

Another study by a team at Harvard School of Public Health² found that adults with a higher sense of purpose in life were found to have a decreased risk of developing weak grip strength and slow walking speed.

Other studies by the study's lead researcher Eric Kim found that a higher sense of purpose also correlates to a reduced risk of disability, stroke, heart disease, sleep issues and other health problems.

¹Source

² Source

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Your Sense of Purpose: How can you recognise it?

You may find it difficult to recognise your sense of purpose in a world that seems to be predominantly stressful with an emphasis of just getting through the responsibilities of the day.

So, sit down with a coffee, take a moment and ask yourself the following questions. Each question could provide the answer.

1. What moves you? What activity do you find challenging but relaxing at the same time and worthy of your full concentration? What activity makes time speed by for you in a good way? Could it be spending time with people who help you forget your worries or people who need your help?

2. When do you actually enjoy hard work? So much so that it does not feel like hard work? Remember the old adage - ‘Find something you love to do and you’ll never work another day in your life.’ Think of all the things you’ve worked hard for – and have actually wanted to work hard for – and it’ll help you determine the activity that is worthy not only of your time, but your heart and soul also.

3. Looking back on your life, do you regret not doing certain things? Or do you regret the time spent on things that didn’t really matter? What would you really have liked to have done?

4. Imagine you had a day with no responsibilities whatsoever and that your energy levels were charged. How would you choose to spend your time? Forget your normal ‘to do’ list. What would you do? This will give you some indication of what you would prefer to do in life and how to spend your time.

And if that’s not enough to help you to recognise your sense of purpose, at www.yourbiggerfuture.co.uk you’ll find the Your Bigger Future™ Lifetime Sense of Purpose templates which you may find useful.

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What is life without a sense of purpose?

It is said that everyone needs to feel like they are contributing to something larger than themselves.

Is that what we recognise as a sense of purpose? I think it is. And if, like me, you consider it to be a fundamental component of a fulfilling life, then you’ll agree that a sense of purpose is, or should be, one of the defining characteristics of being human. If our sense of purpose is diminished we are more vulnerable to boredom, anxiety, depression – and in extreme cases – addiction.

Adopting a strong sense of purpose however can exert a very powerful, positive effect. You’ll never get up in the morning wondering how to fill your day. Your focus will be crisp and clear, your mind taut and strong and you’ll find that life is less complicated and stressful.

Aligning ourselves to a purpose can often make us less self-centred and less focused on our own problems which in turn seem to become less significant. So our sense of wellbeing and self-esteem increases. You may even discover that your true sense of purpose, as a coach or mentor, for example, could be helping others to find theirs.

I guess that finding a sense of purpose has a lot to do with our mental attitude, cognitive ability and a recognition of our natural talents and personal skills. In other words, we have to determine what we want to do and exactly how we intend to achieve our goals. The key element is to find out what we really enjoy doing, what we are good at, and build on our strengths. Only then, I believe, will our true sense of purpose manifest itself. We need to identify our personal skills and then work to develop them.

It’s all about making yourself a better ‘you.’ It’s about finding your passion in life – the force that drives you – and then applying it.

Like some more help? Why not take a look at my Sense of Purpose Quick Start Tips ?

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Young people and mental health

Information (abridged) from PRIORY, the organisation with a nationwide network of hospitals and wellbeing centres dedicated to helping people improve their mental health and wellbeing.

The number of young people suffering from a diagnosable mental health condition is high and continues to increase:

  • Approximately 1 in 12 young people self-harm
  • Around 3 children in every class suffers from a mental health condition
  • 1 in 10 young people age 5-16 years old have a mental health illness
  • More than half of adults with mental health problems had their diagnosis in childhood, however less than half of these had appropriate treatment

Spotting the signs and symptoms

Often, young people who suffer from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety do not get the help they need. One reason for this could be that the young person will try and hide their feelings and signs can be subtle.

Any child showing any of the behaviours listed below may require further support for their mental health:

  • Refusing to go to school and decline in academic performance
  • An increase of medically unexplained symptoms such as stomach aches, headaches or chest pains
  • Low mood which has been consistent for more than two weeks
  • Poor sleep, feeling tired all the time or poor concentration
  • Change in appetite leading to rapid weight loss or weight gain
  • Social isolation and giving up hobbies
  • Poor self-care
  • Presenting as hopeless about their future
  • Talking negatively about themselves
  • An increase in irritability, recklessness or aggression
  • Looking sad or worried all the time, showing a lack of expression

It might also be important to look out for unusual marks on the young person. Unexplained scars, cuts or even swelling from possibly punching something, can be a sign of a mental health problem. This may become evident if a young person declines physical examinations and starts to cover up more.

What to do if you suspect a mental health problem in a young person?

It is important to always reassure the young person and explain to them that they are not alone. Often the mental illness is common and treatable and it can be a big relief for a young person to finally share information and to hear there is help.

  • Many families have private insurance but they do not realise it covers mental health until it is pointed out to them. A private referral will ensure the young person is seen very swiftly by a consultant, rather than waiting a long time on the NHS and then probably see a junior clinician. Privately there are many success stories as the young person can get NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) Guidance treatments without a wait.

The young person could be referred to mental health services (NHS or private) for support or further advice may be sought from a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist.

Why is it important to access help quickly for young people?

  • Research shows that early intervention can prevent considerable longer term morbidity and mental health issues in adult life
  • Most mild and moderate mental illnesses that are treated promptly with evidence-based interventions are likely to lead to a full recovery
  • The NHS route may feel frustrating however without any treatment at all, young people are likely to continue to have poor functioning or risks may increase with time
  • Speedy private treatment however can prevent distress, morbidity and risk for the young person and their family and lead to rapid recovery

Source:

https://www.priorygroup.com/blog/mental-health-and-young-people

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Set achievable goals

The Little Guide To Your Bigger Future™ author Brian Morman says ,

“One of the keys to a healthy mind is to have a clear vision of your life ahead. And a great way to do this is by setting yourself a series of goals over the short, medium and longer term.

“These need not be easy goals but they should be achievable. Some goals could be completely off the wall, or ‘wildcard.’

“The important thing is that by setting goals you have made a strong commitment to yourself and created a focus. You will be constantly refreshed and motivated and always looking forward.”

In the book, Brian has created an interactive chart that can help you do this, together with his own example.

Download the example at http://www.yourbiggerfuture.co.uk/downloads/Achievable%20Goals%20Example.pdf

Download the chart at

http://www.yourbiggerfuture.co.uk/downloads/Achievable%20Goals%20Template.pdf

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Stress

Feeling under pressure?
Too much work?
Had an almighty argument?
Financial worries?

If the answer to one or more of those questions is ‘yes,’ then the chances are you may be feeling… stressed!

And we all know what that feels like. You are likely to be worried or anxious, can’t concentrate, can’t relax, can’t sleep, irritable, eating irregularly, have low self-esteem, maybe drinking more…* the list goes on. It can be overwhelming. Sometimes you can’t see through the fog of stress.

There's no medical definition of stress. In fact, health care professionals often disagree over whether stress is the cause of problems or the result of them! This can make it difficult for you to work out what causes your feelings of stress, or how to deal with them but it's likely that you can learn to handle your stress better by

a) managing external pressures, so stressful situations don't seem to happen to you quite so often and

b) developing your emotional resilience, so you're better at coping with tough situations when they do happen, thereby reducing your stress levels

So what can you do about it? In a nutshell, firstly – recognise it! Secondly identify the causes. And thirdly, review your lifestyle.

OK, it’s not as simple as that, granted. But here are a few suggestions that could help you protect yourself from stress:

Eat healthily

Make sure your diet provides an adequate amount of brain nutrients such as essential vitamins and minerals – and water! According to studies, healthy eating can also improve our moods.

Don’t take to drink!

Alcohol and smoking may reduce tension initially but in the long run this ‘avoidance behaviour’ will store up trouble for the future.

Exercise

Make it part of your lifestyle. It’s a proven stress-buster. Doesn’t have to be strenuous – even a walk in the fresh air or just to the shops can be helpful.

Take a break!

Relax. Calm down. Chill out. It’s OK to prioritise self-care, because let’s face it, you’re probably no good to anyone in a state of stress.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is a simple form of meditation that focuses one's awareness on the present moment allowing you to increase your ability to manage difficult situations. Research suggests it not only reduces the effects of stress but also of anxiety, insomnia and poor concentration.

Sleep well.

Sleeping when you are stressed is hard, isn’t it? Try to develop a regular sleep-wake cycle, such as always going to bed and getting up at the same time each day and avoid sleeping in at weekends. Control your exposure to light at night, exercise during the day, limit your caffeine, food and alcohol intake in the run up to going to bed and try some ‘winding down’ techniques such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.

Don’t beat yourself up!

Everyone has a bad day from time to time. You’re not alone, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Look for the positives in life. Take time out to appreciate yourself and what you have. Be a ‘glass half full’ person and accept there may be things you can’t change.

Connect with people

A good network of colleagues, friends and family who will share your troubles can help you see things differently. Support when you need it.

Be patient. Coping and dealing with stress may take time because very often lifestyle changes are necessary. However, if problems continue you may find it helpful talking to a psychologist, social worker or professional counsellor.

* These symptoms may of course be the result of other medical problems and you should consult your doctor if you are at all concerned or they persist for a prolonged period.

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Exercise now for improved brain function later

A long term study involving more than 9,000 subjects published recently in the journal Psychological Medicine has revealed that people perform better in mental tests at the age of 50 if they have engaged in regular intense activity, such as playing sport, running, swimming or working out in the gym, since childhood.

Interviews were conducted at regular age intervals to monitor levels of exercise. Participants also undertook tests of memory, attention and learning.

Those who had exercised two to three times per month or more from the age of 11 scored higher in the tests than those who had not.

Government guidelines say that adults aged 19 to 64 should exercise for at least 150 minutes per week.

“It's widely acknowledged that a healthy body equals a healthy mind,” said Study Leader Dr Alex Dregan, from King's College London, “ However, not everyone is willing or able to take part in the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week. For these people any level of physical activity may benefit their cognitive well-being in the long-term and this is something that needs to be explored further. Setting lower exercise targets at the beginning and gradually increasing their frequency and intensity could be a more effective method for improving levels of exercise within the wider population.”

Intense exercise appeared to provide greater benefit for the brain than regular moderate activity, said Dr Dregan.

Source:

www.independent.co.uk

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Want a healthy mind?

Whatever age you are, its always a good idea to take steps to keep your mind healthy, because those with strong minds generally live richer, more fulfilling lives. Our brains change with age and mental function changes with it. To some extent we probably all fear mental decline but cognitive impairment need not be inevitable. So what can you do to improve and maintain your brain function?

We recommend you read the Healthy Mind chapter in The Little Guide To Your Bigger Future™ or the Healthy Mind Quick Start Tips in the companion web site. But why not begin right now by following the Your Bigger Future™ 10 Steps To A Healthy Mind™

1. Eat healthily and improve your diet

Healthy body, healthy mind! Think carefully about what you eat and how to improve your nutrition. It’s a fact that people who eat a Mediterranean style diet that is big on fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts, unsaturated oils (olive oil) and plant sources of proteins are less likely to develop cognitive impairment and dementia. Healthy eating can also lead to improvements in your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

2. Monitor your alcohol intake

Three pieces of advice – moderation, moderation, moderation! But seriously, excessive drinking is a major risk factor for dementia. If you do choose to drink, limit yourself to the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines which apply to both men and women, i.e. no more than 14 units a week on a regular basis and if you do regularly drink as much as 14 units per week, it's best to spread your drinking evenly over three or more days.

3. Physical exercise

You don’t have to be a gym junkie! Anything that raises the heart rate, such as walking, cycling, gardening, etc., is generally regarded as good for you. Exercise lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, helps blood sugar balance and reduces mental stress, all of which can help your brain as well as your heart. And research shows that animals who exercise regularly increase the number of tiny blood vessels that bring oxygen-rich blood to the region of the brain that is responsible for thought.

4. Mental exercise

Put that calculator away! Make yourself think. Challenge your mind. Do puzzles. Learn new things. Experiment with activities that require manual dexterity such as painting and other crafts. Keep learning! Research suggests all this will stimulate new nerve cell connections and may even help the brain generate new cells.

5. Engage with others

Keep in touch with family and friends and build social networks. Strong social ties have been associated with a lower risk of dementia, as well as lower blood pressure and longer life expectancy.

6. Change scenery

A change is as good as a rest. Take a holiday, or simply change your route to work. It’s all about breaking boring routine activities in order to make them more interesting.

7. Learn to relax

Read, walk, paint, meditate – whatever works for you. People who are anxious, depressed, sleep-deprived, or exhausted tend to score poorly on cognitive function tests.

8. Widen your interests

Why not do something you’ve always wanted to do? Broaden your horizons. A new hobby, a new skill, a new language.

9. Be confident – believe in yourself

You are as good as anyone else. Make yourself the best person you can be. Set procedures that you can follow all the time. Better still, commit to paper your thoughts on what exactly boosts your confidence and refer to them often. Download the interactive Your Bigger Future™ Confidence Booster chart and get started!

10. Care for others

Show concern for other people’s welfare. Treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself. Helping others can help you reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose. Research shows that giving a gift, as well as volunteering or donating to charities, has a positive impact on your physical and mental health and can contribute to a longer life.

Please note that this information is not intended as a substitute for common sense or professional advice from your doctor.

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Let The Little Guide To Your Bigger Future™ help you

Life expectancy has increased dramatically. We have moved into what is now generally regarded as The Fourth Age. The likelihood is that we will spend a long time in retirement. So answer just one question: What are you doing to prepare for your bigger future?

Indeed, do you have a clear vision of your future? Because we all need to prepare ourselves physically, mentally and financially for a longer life. And we need to be able to visualise those lives. We need to convince ourselves that we will be healthy, that we will be financially sound, that we will still have relationships and that our sense of purpose will always be strong.

If you follow the pathway described in The Little Guide To Your Bigger Future™ then you will be well on the way to creating your meaningful, happy self, healthy in mind, body and finances and well prepared for your bigger future, however long it may last.

To learn more about how the book could help you, please visit the companion website www.yourbiggerfuture.co.uk or buy the book here.

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How will we deal with an ageing population?

Back in 2009 the Office for National Statistics published figures that indicated a significant rise in life expectancy and a fall in children being born. That meant for the first time ever, Britain’s over 65s outnumbered those under the age of 16! These two significant mega-trends have continued unabated. And we are not alone in this. It’s a global phenomenon facing most of the developed nations.

We also need to consider that the number of people in work supporting each pensioner in Britain (i.e. the ‘dependency ratio’) is expected to drop to just 2 by the year 2050.

The ‘maturing’ of global societies is certainly a major achievement, with people today living far longer and healthier lives than previous generations. This demographic change offers opportunities to harness the experience, expertise and creativity of such an historically large number of older people and provides a great opportunity for businesses. Tapping into a wider pool of talent, experience and skills enables businesses to increase productivity and build competitive advantage.

The UK government has committed to increasing the age of retirement and has introduced auto-enrolment to ‘encourage’ those in work to save into a pension, but there is of course the other problem associated with an ageing population and it is this: How will the NHS and social services deal with the rapid growth of older people needing care and an equally rapid decline in taxable incomes to fund their activities? Clearly there is a need to ensure the NHS benefits from new and innovative technologies, but the obvious answer is to encourage people to remain active, engage in regular exercise and refrain from behaviours that could have a detrimental effect on their health.

In fact, an emphasis on prevention rather than cure.

And that is where everyone can benefit from The Little Guide To Your Bigger Future™. This is a book than can help you towards developing your very own complete systems maintenance programme at any age, so that you can enjoy a healthy mind, body, sense of purpose and meaningful relationships for the rest of your life. It can also help you put in place a useful financial strategy. The book includes a host of tips, self-help charts, real-life illustrations and inspirational tales. Visit www.yourbiggerfuture.co.uk to learn more and look forward to your bigger future.

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The secret of living to 100? Be positive!

Recent research has revealed only 5 per cent of people aged 65 to 92 consider themselves old. On the contrary, the study reported the over-65s feel up to 25 years younger than they actually are, with 42 per cent saying they now felt happier than they had ever felt before. Nearly a third (28 per cent) said if they were given the chance to pick their age, they would choose to remain the same age they are now, and 22 per cent added their age has given them a sense of confidence they previously did not have.

Ageing expert and Chief Knowledge Officer to the NHS Sir Muir Gray argues that being "old" is just a state of mind: "The ageing process starts at around 30 but, for most people, it shouldn't become a problem until they are in their 90s. However, due to a combination of factors, people can often begin to feel old as early as 65. A negative outlook on life, influenced by the negative and often incorrect portrayal of ‘old age’ as a period of inevitable and irreversible decline, hastens the onset of ill health, partly because people who adopt this attitude make no attempt to stay healthy, let alone get healthier. With the right outlook and lifestyle, you can still reduce your risk of disease, minimise the effects of any condition that does develop and remain a spring chicken until you are 90, or beyond."

With life expectancy rising with each generation, Gray predicts that living to 100 will soon become more common. “What is important to distinguish is that people don't just want to live 'forever', people want to live well and die well. So instead of looking at this as increasing your life expectancy, people should look at it as increasing your health span."

The research also revealed the majority of over 65s are doing all they can to take care of their health as they grow older, with many claiming to do more light exercise than before and being more careful with their diet and what they eat. Nearly half of those surveyed admitted to playing more brain fitness games, such as doing puzzles and crosswords.

So you really are only as old as you feel. But there’s a little more to it than that. A further study of people aged between 90 and 101 discovered that certain psychological traits that produce better mental health can also play a part in extending longevity.

Psychiatrist Dr Anna Scelzo said: "We found this group tended to be domineering, stubborn and needed a sense of control - which can be a desirable trait as they are true to their convictions and care less about what others think. This tendency to control the environment suggests notable grit that is balanced by a need to adapt to changing circumstances."

Other themes that emerged from the study were positivity, work ethic, a strong bond with family, religion and the environment and considerable self-confidence and decision making skills. Amongst the conclusions drawn is that although physical health may fail, well-being and wisdom increases with age.

One of the participants in the survey, a man in his 90s, said, “I'm always thinking for the best. There is always a solution in life. My father taught me to always face difficulties and hope for the best. I am always active. I do not know what stress is. Life is what it is and must be faced - always. I have to say, I feel younger now than when I was young. "

Helping you towards a healthier and happier longer life is what The Little Guide To Your Bigger Future™ is all about. It’s about developing your own longevity strategy and charting your progress as you go. And it’s about setting goals, boosting your confidence, adjusting your habits and defining and developing your very own sense of purpose.

You’ll find hints, tips, real-life illustrations and self-help progress charts to help you do all this and more in The Little Guide To Your Bigger Future™ and on the companion website,www.yourbiggerfuture.co.uk

Sources:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/goodlife/living/want-to-live-till-100-just-be-positive/

https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/life/890994/how-to-live-longer-100-years-old-secret-tip-help-dunkirk-spirit

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Getting Older Means Getting Better

Adapted from a Reader’s Digest article.

Oscar Wilde said, “With age comes wisdom…” A recent study in the Journal of Social Sciences and Medicine suggests that happiness also increases with age.

The study, led by researchers in the U.S. and U.K. incorporated data collected from men and women from 80 countries over the course of 35 years. The findings revealed that regardless of gender, nationality, or economic circumstances, human beings tend to experience wellbeing in a “u-shaped curve,” with the least fulfilled years falling in the early-to-mid 40s.

In our 20s and 30s, we set the bar high for ourselves personally and professionally. If we haven’t achieved those goals by our 40s, that’s when we tend to plunge into the depression and dissatisfaction associated with middle age

Researchers who study middle age have found similar evidence that after we bottom-out in our mid-40s, or experience that proverbial “midlife crisis,” our mood improves and things start looking up. Why? One reason may be that we get smarter, at least about some things. By our 50s, we have a more realistic sense of those things that are truly important to us and will bring fulfilment, and we’re able to set new goals and focus on achieving them. Certain types of mental tasks may actually become easier in our 50s and 60s, as we apply our accumulated knowledge or “crystallized intelligence” to new information.

If we spend the early decades of our adult years largely being disappointed, by the time we reach our 50s and 60s, we tend to have a change of heart. After our mid-40s reality check and our resulting sense of purpose and renewal, we’re able to take stock of our lives with a clear eye and appreciate where we’ve come from, how we got there, what we have achieved so far along the way – and what the future may hold for us.

What does the future hold for you? What’s on your bucket list? Do you even have a bucket list? If not, why not visit http://www.yourbiggerfuture.co.uk/useful-guides and download and complete the Your Bigger Future™ Bucket List template.

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Reasons To Be Cheerfull

Despite his disability, the late, great Ian Dury believed he had much for which to be thankful as evidenced by his band’s recording of his ‘shopping list’ song ‘Reasons to be cheerful, Part 3.’ (Never heard it? Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcjh1a9Yoao )

And today, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), those of us living in the UK are getting happier with each passing year, with increasing levels of life satisfaction and wellbeing.

Since 2011 the ONS has asked a series of questions to the over-16s about their levels of life satisfaction, whether they feel worthwhile and how anxious they have been feeling in recent days and the latest figures reveal yet another small increase in overall UK happiness.

Anxiety levels among the UK population has also dropped. Silvia Manclossi, the head of the quality of life team at the ONS, said: “We have seen average ratings of personal wellbeing slightly improving over the years. Factors such as people’s social connections and health status play an important part in personal wellbeing. However, some economic factors are also important, so perhaps this trend over time is not surprising as the country came out of the economic downturn.”

There are marked differences in happiness across the generations. When the survey first began, people aged 16 to 19 reported the highest levels of life satisfaction of any age group. But since 2011 life satisfaction levels among the over-65s has increased significantly.

The happiest age group are now those between 70 and 74 years old. Those aged between 65 and 80 reported higher levels of life satisfaction, feelings of being worthwhile and general happiness than any other age groups. They are also the least anxious.

The people least satisfied with their lot are those aged between 50 and 54, though the ONS figures suggest that even their unhappiness has moderated in recent years.

Women report higher levels of personal wellbeing than men, though they are also more anxious than men.

While men and women report near-identical figures for life satisfaction and happiness, when it comes to feeling worthwhile in life, women feel markedly better than men. On average women give themselves an 8 out of 10 score for feeling worthwhile, while men score just under 7.8.

So what are our reasons to be cheerful? Well the lyrics in Dury’s song still amuse and delight. It’s feel-good, funny, clever and perceptive. But the lyrics are nearly 40 years old. Today our values have shifted. Different things matter. We are still one of the richest nations in the world, with relatively low unemployment. We have clean drinking water. Our country is one of the safest on earth. Total gender equality is within our grasp, with more and more women being elevated to senior positions in industry and public service. And we have one of the most diverse and tolerant populations in the world. The country is in debt, but we can pay it! OK, we haven’t won The World Cup this year… again… but we’ll get over it and look forward to the future, as we always do!

What are your reasons to be cheerful? Usually it’s because we have exciting things happening in our lives right now or have great things in prospect. Things that give us pleasure and confidence. Why not boost your confidence by downloading and completing the Your Bigger Future™ Confidence Booster at http://www.yourbiggerfuture.co.uk/useful-guides

Statistics source: www.theguardian.com

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Stress: It’s not all bad.

When we are stressed our bodies are stimulated to produce certain hormones that include adrenaline and cortisol. It is these hormones that generate the so-called ‘fight or flight’ responses.

We all need a certain amount of stress to live well. It can be a motivator. But stress can become a problem if there is too little or too much. Too little means your body is under-stimulated. Too much will encourage the body to release hormones over a long period which may lead to other health issues such as headaches, stomach upsets and high blood pressure. In some cases it has been shown to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Stress can also lead to psychological problems and anxiety which can seriously affect relationships.

We all feel stressed at times. Money problems, issues at work or difficult relationships are common causes. In fact anything that threatens our well-being can trigger a stress reaction. But there are a number of lifestyle changes we can all make to manage or prevent stress or the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Here then are author Brian Morman’s Your Bigger Future™ 10 Stress Buster Tips™.

1. Identify your stress triggers

This is obvious. Work out which situations stress you out and eliminate them as far as possible.

2. Stay healthy

Numerous studies have proved that being healthy relieves stress. Exercise can benefit a person’s mental and physical state, as can eating sensibly. A healthy balanced diet can help maintain the immune system in times of stress. Reduce your intake of alcohol and caffeine as these substances can make stress worse.

(For more information and advice, visit http://www.yourbiggerfuture.co.uk/quick-tips#healthy-body )

3. Get organised

Disorganisation is a common stress trigger. Straighten up your house. Tidy your office. Set yourself time zones each day during which you tackle specific tasks.

4. Talk!

Talking to family and friends and work colleagues about your thoughts and worries will let off steam and may help you resolve any problems that may have been worrying you.

5. Turn off your phone once in a while!

Smartphones can lead to stress because they have created a relentless need to immediately respond to each and every incoming message or alert. Set aside certain times throughout the day to turn off the phone for a little peace.

6. Do something pleasurable

This is all about finding your personal de-stressor. Relax! Make time for the things that make you happy such as hobbies, music, films and even just chatting to friends.

7. Breathing and relaxation

These techniques can slow down the system and help you relax – mindfulness meditation, massage and yoga.

8. Avoid multi-tasking – prioritise!

We’re all busy, so multi-tasking might sound like a great idea, but juggling tasks can be very stressful. Organise your to-do list to see what is most important. Then at the end of the day you can focus on what you have accomplished rather than what you have yet to do.

9. Don’t fill up your calendar

Commitments become a problem when they conflict with each other, interfere with your family or begin to overrun your life. So cut back / edit your list of commitments and you’ll suddenly notice you have much needed, de-stressing free time.

10. Be grateful

Research has shown that grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism – and yes – lower levels of depression and stress!

The Little Guide to Your Bigger Future™ contains a host of useful guides to help you organise your life – now and in the future. Why not visit http://www.yourbiggerfuture.co.uk/useful-guides and check out the downloadable self-help templates that can help you achieve your lifestyle and lifetime goals.

Please note that if you feel stress is affecting your daily life, you should seek professional medical help.

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Money Freedom. Time Freedom

Money can give you freedom not to just have the things you want, but to also do the things you want to do.

But most of us work hard – trading our ‘quality time,’ if you like – to earn a living to pay for the things we need or want and then discover we have no time to enjoy those pleasures. We may become relatively financially secure but poor in terms of time and quality of life.

So let’s take a few moments to explore the journey to financial freedom. I believe there are five stages – that’s why I call them the Your Bigger Future™ 5 Stages to Financial Freedom™.

Stage 1 – Dependency
You depend on others for financial support. You may still be out of work, getting money from your parents or you may simply be spending more money than you earn. You’ll probably therefore be in debt. Paradoxically you may also have more time on your hands during this stage but no money to be able to enjoy it.

Stage 2 – Solvency
It may take some time to reach this stage. This is when your income exceeds your expenses. You may have debts but are able to service them.

Stage 3 – Stability
By now you should have repaid most of your creditors. Yes, you may still have a mortgage, but essentially you’ll be debt-free and have enough savings for emergencies.

Stage 4 – Security
No more debt – or at least you have the ready cash to pay off all your remaining debts if you so choose. By now you may even have enough money saved or invested to give up work.

Stage 5 – Independence
Your savings and investments are sufficient to fund your chosen lifestyle for as long as you live – affording you the freedom to do whatever you choose with your time.

As you can clearly see, each stage represents one more step towards time freedom. At the start, debt is the big freedom restrictor because even if you earn money, it belongs to someone else. But when you become relatively debt-free and find yourself in personal profit, your time takes on a whole new meaning. As you bank money, you bank time also.

It’s not all plain sailing of course. You’ll need to work hard, save and invest wisely.* That’s the secret for financial independence and time freedom – when what you do is dictated almost exclusively by your goals and personal objectives. It’s the time when your days belong to you.

Ask yourself this question: “If I had enough money and all the time in the world, what would I be doing differently today?” It’s a tantalising question because it allows you to visualise what time freedom would actually mean to you. Right now.

You don’t need to be mega rich. The secret is having enough money to be able to do the things you want to do, when you want to do them and with whoever you want to do them.

* So exactly how do you build up the necessary capital to finance your time freedom? The answer is a solid plan which includes simple saving, investing and wealth management. There is no magic pathway to wealth but there are tried and tested principles that will give you a decent chance of having enough money so that you can do whatever you want. You’ll find much helpful advice on Personal Finances in my book The Little Guide To Your Bigger Future™ or on the companion web site, http://www.yourbiggerfuture.co.uk/your-finances

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Embarrassment could be the death of you

More than 40% of over 60s are not getting tested for bowel cancer.  Embarrassment over providing a stool sample, particularly among men, is putting thousands of people unnecessarily at risk of dying, Public Health England (PHE) has warned.

A report by PHE found 41% of men and women over 60 years old are not getting screened for bowel cancer. The figure is up 3% from last year, but the take-up for bowel cancer screening (59%) is still significantly lower than other cancer screening programmes such as breast screening (76%) and cervical screening (72%).

Bowel cancer screening is offered to all men and women aged 60 to 74, who are sent a home test kit to provide stool samples.

There were over 3,000 bowel cancers diagnosed as a result of screening in 2016-17. In over 90% of these cases, cancers were found at an early stage, where treatment is more likely to be successful.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in England, but the second leading cause of cancer deaths, with around 13,000 people dying from it every year. PHE said screening reduces the risk of dying from bowel cancer by 16%.

Next year there will be a new home test, the faecal immunochemical test (FIT), which requires just one sample rather than the current three.

In addition to the home test, a one-off test called bowel scope screening is offered to men and women at the age of 55.

Judith Brodie, interim chief executive at Beating Bowel Cancer, said: “People may feel uncomfortable completing their home screening tests, but they can be crucial in the early diagnosis of bowel cancer – which is very treatable if caught early. We strongly encourage the use of these bowel screening tests – they can be life-saving.”

https://www.healthinsurancedaily.com/health-insurance/product-area/life-critical-illness/article484098.ece

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Life satisfaction increases with age

A survey reports that those aged over 54 years are generally more satisfied with their lives, and experienced less stress, worry, and anger than younger people.

Satisfaction with life and having a sense of purpose and meaning in life has been found to affect the health and wellbeing of men and women.

The study conducted by researchers from Princeton University, Stony Brook University and University College London asked people from across the world how satisfied they were with their lives, about their feelings of happiness, sadness and anger as well as whether they felt a sense of purpose and meaning in their life. The study found that men and women in high income English speaking countries (such as Australia, the United States, Canada and United Kingdom) are unhappiest between 45 and 53 years but life satisfaction from then on continues to improve.

People aged over 54 years in high-income English speaking countries were generally more satisfied with their lives, and experienced less stress, worry, and anger. Co-author Professor Deaton said that these findings are expected as “this is the period at which income typically peaks and is the best time to work and earn the most.”

The study also found that poor health leads to a decrease in life satisfaction and alternatively, that if someone has higher life satisfaction and a sense of meaning this helps when someone is physically unwell.

Dr Mandy Deeks, psychologist and Head of Translation and Education at Jean Hailes (Australia's leading and most trusted women's health organisation) says, “These findings confirm other studies particularly around the importance of having a sense of meaning and purpose in life. We know that people who have roles in life that give them satisfaction and a sense of purpose have less illness and find it easier to recover from illness than those who don’t have positive roles.”

Another new study from Florida State University psychologist Dr. Angelina R. Sutin, and colleagues from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), looked at how feelings of well-being change with age, and found that overall happiness and satisfaction with life tended to increase with age, but that a person’s overall level of well-being depends on when he or she was born.

The study indicated that people in the same “birth cohort” — born around the same time — may have had unique experiences that shape the way they evaluate happiness and optimism.

In the review, Sutin and colleagues looked at data from several thousand people over 30 years, including more than 10,000 reports on well-being, health and other factors.

When Sutin and her colleagues analyzed the data while taking birth cohort into account, the results showed that life satisfaction increased over the participants’ lifetimes, even after factors like health, medication, sex, ethnicity and education were taken into account.

Sources:

https://jeanhailes.org.au/news/does-life-satisfaction-increase-with-age  

https://psychcentral.com/news/2013/02/19/happiness-satisfaction-with-life-generally-increase-with-age/51731.html

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There is someone alive today who will live to be 1,000 years old: Why we are living longer than ever.

This article is an extract from ‘Longevity: Why We are Living Longer than Ever and the Discoveries that May Allow Us to Live to 1000’ by Dr David Goldhill, which is available from Amazon in paperback (£10) and Kindle (£4.97)

Researchers are getting a better understanding of the ageing process and the ways it could be slowed, halted or even reversed

 “The first person to live to be 1,000 years old is alive today.” I read that sentence two years ago and it set me off on a voyage of discovery. Since then I’ve been finding out what is known about longevity, the time that each of us are allotted to live our lives. I’m not going to live to be 1,000 but could my granddaughter?

We live in unprecedented times and the pace of change and innovation is explosive. Unlike any other era, mankind has the means to destroy the world completely and in so many ways. If mankind does not succumb to man-made or natural disasters, and continues to progress exponentially, it becomes difficult to predict the next 100 years, let alone peer darkly into the distant future.

Mankind’s curiosity has taken us to the stage when we can start to answer some of the fundamental questions about ourselves, why we are here and what are the mechanisms that got us to this point. I believe that we stand on the threshold where this understanding can be translated into the most extraordinary and wonderful changes in the human condition.

A few generations ago death was a familiar event. Death was capricious, visiting the young as well as the old, the hale as well as the infirm, the rich as well as the poor. It was an accepted and everyday occurrence over which man had little influence. No wonder that it was often seen as beyond man’s control.

I’m now retired but I spent many years looking after seriously ill patients as director of intensive care at the Royal London hospital. In a previous age I might not have survived this long, let alone enjoy an active physical and mental existence. Over the last 150 years, improved nutrition, clean water, better sanitation and the application of medical science have been remarkably successful in tackling disease and allowing most people to reach their potential lifespan. Because of these advances millions of people are alive today who would have died not so many years ago.

In recent years the search for ways to achieve an extended lifespan has moved out of the realm of fantasy and science fiction to become a legitimate scientific pursuit. Death has moved from being inevitable, to a technical hitch amenable to intervention and prevention.

For most of recorded human history average life expectancy has been between 20 and 40 years. In Britain it was only in the mid-1800s that this figure consistently rose above 40 years. Today in the UK average life expectancy is about 80 years. The main reason for this extraordinary advance is the fall in infant mortality. In 1800 one-third of British children died before their fifth birthday. Today that figure is less than one per cent. The big killers used to be infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, scarlet fever, smallpox, influenza, typhoid and cholera. If progress at reducing mortality continues then many children born since the year 2000 will live to celebrate their 100th birthday.

Psalm 90:10 in the Bible concedes a natural life span of three score years and 10, or fourscore for the fortunate. Living to 70 or 80 years of age was not unusual in historical times. For example, Michelangelo died in 1564 three weeks before his 89th birthday. Worldwide there are thought to be about 400 people older than 110 years, and more than 90 per cent of them are women. The oldest reliably documented person was a French woman called Jeanne Calment who died in 1997 at the age of 122. A healthy, non-smoking lifestyle involving exercise, good nutrition and rewarding social interactions will maximise the chances of achieving your potential lifespan. I can’t tell you how to live for hundreds of years, but at the moment nobody can.

Natural selection is the key mechanism in evolution. We can’t rely on this to extend life as there is little evolutionary pressure once we have had children and passed on our genes. If humans are to live longer than anyone has before then medical science will have to up its game.

All living organisms use the same chemical building blocks and the same cellular organisation. That is why it is said that we share 50 per cent of our genetic material with a banana plant. If other creatures can live extraordinary long lives, regenerate limbs or spend winters in hibernation, then why can’t we?

Ageing is common to almost all creatures but occurs at vastly different rates and in different ways. Interventions have already been demonstrated that substantially extend the lifespans of yeasts, worms, fruit flies and small mammals. Successful techniques include genetic manipulation, calorie restriction and therapy with drugs that slow ageing. Researchers are getting a better understanding of the ageing process and thus the ways in which it could be slowed, halted or even reversed.

Some off the wall solutions to extending lifespan have been described. These include freezing the dead to be reanimated in the future, head transplants and uploading to a computer. More mainstream approaches, all in their infancy, probably have a better chance of prolonging human life. These are the application of technology to replace and enhance human functions, regeneration and stem cell therapy, and genetic manipulation.

Medical innovations have already saved the lives of millions of people. My working lifetime saw the introduction of CT and other imaging, non-invasive surgery, and endoscopy made possible by fibreoptics and cameras on microchips. In the UK more than 300,000 cataract replacements are performed each year inserting an artificial lens into the eye. The near future will probably see the wide application of smart health monitors, brain stimulators, replacement organs grown in the laboratory or in donor animals, artificial intelligence to diagnose and treat disease, and nanomedibots in the bloodstream programmed to search out and destroy harmful viruses and cancers.

A human foetus in the womb can regenerate a damaged fingertip. After birth the capacity for repair and regrowth is rapidly lost. Across the animal kingdom there is a huge range in the ability to regenerate tissues and organs with some adult animals retaining the ability to regrow limbs, heart muscle, brain and spinal cord.

Stem cells may provide the answer to regeneration. These cells contain all the genetic information to become any other type of cell. During development the embryonic cell differentiates and turns into the specialised cell that is its destiny. We now know that these specialised cells can be rejuvenated back into pluripotent stem cells with the potential to turn into almost any other cell. These cells could be used to replace those lost or damaged and be used to build new organs without the risk of rejection. They are being investigated to replace or renew damaged tissue in brain and spinal cord, in the heart, to replace teeth, restore vision and transplant new pancreatic cells to produce insulin.

With a few exceptions, each and every one of the 30 trillion cells that are your body contains a full set of DNA. This genetic material contains all the information needed to build and maintain an individual. The molecular structure of DNA was only identified in 1953. In 2003, after 13 years of work and at a cost of $2.7bn (£1.9bn), the more than 3 billion base pairs of the human genome were described for the first time. This was one of the most important discoveries that mankind has ever made.

Using a technique called CRISPR it is now theoretically possible to go to any strand of DNA from any life form, snip it in a precise location and then add or remove DNA. In humans this is the equivalent of taking 850 volumes of the complete works of Shakespeare and purposefully editing one specific letter. Diseases such as Haemophilia B and sickle cell disease are already being treated with gene therapy. Genes from one species have been successfully inserted into another.

This creates novel changes impossible in nature. We already know that small genetic changes can profoundly affect longevity. In the future gene manipulation may directly introduce alterations in DNA to cure ageing and prolong life.

I was 26 when my grandfather died aged 84. When he was born in 1894 the population of the world was about 1.6 billion. I came along in 1952 by which time it had grown to 2.6 billion. By the time of my granddaughter’s birth in 2016 the number of people on our planet had swollen to 7.4 billion. The world my granddaughter was born into would be unrecognisable to the horse-drawn, steam-powered world of my grandfather’s birth. My grandchild can reasonably expect to live well into the 22nd century. But that is without accounting for medical progress. I stand as the link between my grandfather and my granddaughter. What will her world look like, and that of her grandchildren? Maybe she will be the first person to live to be 1,000. I celebrated the coming of the second millennia. Perhaps she will be around for the third?

Source:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/live-longer-longevity-stem-cells-ageing-a8332701.html  

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Coming back from the brink!

Christmas 2017. I was celebrating my birthday and the recent birth of my first grandchild. Oh, and I’d just taken the giant step (for me!) of ordering a brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle – my first new bike at the age of 63! So it was a time of great joy and I felt on top of the world.

Two weeks later I was admitted to hospital straight from A&E with a mysterious bacterial infection that defied diagnosis.

It soon became obvious that the manifestation of the problem was septic arthritis, an infection which can be caused by bacteria or viruses. Considered a medical emergency, it can cause damage to bone and cartilage, with the threat of septic shock – which can prove fatal!

I’d suddenly become racked with pain, I’d lost my appetite and my thinking was, well… confused to say the least.

Who could have imagined that just a matter of months after publishing my book, The Little Guide To Your Bigger Future™, a book that proposes the concept that we could live to 150 and beyond, I could be close to death myself?

On admission to hospital, my blood CRP (C-Reactive Protein) readings – a blood test marker for inflammation in the body – was over 260. A normal healthy reading is zero! The consultant later told me, “You were very ill indeed. We rarely see levels that high in a body with a beating heart.” I’m glad I wasn’t conscious of the seriousness at the time.  

The septic arthritis had settled in my back and knee. During my first few days in hospital I had to undergo a total of three ‘flush out’ knee operations to try and get rid of the poison. Due to the fact that cultures had failed to pinpoint the type of bacteria causing the infection, I was put on a cocktail of three different intravenous antibiotics! I would be on the IV for over six weeks!

The hospital staff were mystified as to how a previously very fit man could succumb to such an infection. (I lost two stone in weight in just a few weeks!) Even now, the exact cause is not clear, but nearly five months later I am on the mend. I can’t fault the treatment and care I received from the NHS but I’m convinced that my recovery was helped enormously by my positive thinking and game plan adopted from my book  The Little Guide To Your Bigger Future™.

During my illness, my confidence had taken a knock and needed a boost. That’s where the Your Bigger Future™ Confidence Booster template came in and helped a lot.

At times like these, there’s no doubt that one tends to reassess one’s aims and priorities in life and different things take on more importance. So I found the Your Bigger Future™ Achievable Goals template gave me a clear perspective of my future.

As I began to recover I realised I needed to constantly remind myself of my progress and the best way I found to do this was by making regular entries into my Your Bigger Future™ Journal template.

And as I was able to focus again more and more on the future, I began to concentrate on and reassess my goals with the help of the Your Bigger Future™ Bucket List template.

Last, but by no means least, was the benefit I gained from the power of the love of my family and friends. That’s something that should never be underestimated and is of course a subject covered in the Healthy Relationship chapter in the book.

Well, it’s a long journey and I still have a way to go, but I’m convinced that having previously maintained a healthy constitution so that I was in the best possible condition when the illness struck, positive thinking during the recovery and a clear vision of a healthy future has helped me get back on my feet and looking forward to my bigger future!

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Are you ready to rewrite your bucket list travel wish list?

Maybe the Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Travel 2018’ could provide inspiration?

We all have bucket lists of one form or another and high up on a lot of people’s lists are various travel experiences. Travel allows us to experience other cultures, other climates, to meet new people and generally broaden our horizons. Traditionally we’ve regarded bucket lists as ambitions to be fulfilled ‘before we die,’ but now that we can look forward to substantially longer lives, we have more time to make those ambitions a reality. And on the travel front, maybe we can be a little more, well, adventurous.

Maybe you want to sit on the edge of the Grand Canyon or walk the length of the Great Wall of China, treading a similar path to many in your position with the free time to spend enjoying life.

But perhaps a more conventional travel path is not for you, perhaps you want to push the boundaries and enjoy a less well trodden route.

If that is the case, Lonely Planet has published a list based on the experiences of their writers of the best travel locations for 2018, and there might be a few suggestions that could surprise you… a few that could even make you think of revising that bucket list for a new destination. Let’s have a look at some of their choices.

Chile is a slender sliver of a nation with a trendy capital in Santiago which is packed full of culture, reflected in the bright murals that adorn almost every building in its winding streets. To the north is the Atacama desert, which is the driest non polar desert on earth, while Patagonia to the south has caves and mountains to explore.

But if South America doesn’t appeal, how about South Korea? Having just hosted the winter Olympics in the city of Pyeongchang, and with the country’s new high speed rail network, you can take a trip to its cutting edge capital, Seoul, to explore all that it has to offer.

But maybe you prefer a city break rather than spending your time travelling a country. If that is the case, what about Detroit? After some tough times, the city is firmly on an upswing, with entrepreneurs turning the once neglected, abandoned buildings into a whole range of exciting businesses, with art galleries and a whole range of shops and other start-ups to explore, and after you’ve done your fair share of pounding the sidewalk, you could relax on one of the parks along the river front.

Another city with more than its fair share of culture and history is Oslo, in the progressive country of Norway. Now would be a great time to visit as this year the King and Queen celebrate their 50th year of marriage which promises to be a huge celebration with a whole range of interesting events.

But if you fancy something a little closer to home then how about Belfast? This city has been transformed over the last two decades into a cultural hub full of chic neighbourhoods with a whole range of restaurants and bars. The perfect cure for a little overindulgence is the Causeway coast just down the road, a place absolutely bursting with natural beauty and tranquil spots to reflect on your adventure.

The last travel destination on our list may seem a little bit out there (in fact, it is out there, out there in the wilderness), but Alaska offers a true once in a lifetime opportunity to see everything from bald eagles to humpback whales in their natural habitats, or experience 20 hour summer days amongst the glaciers and the fjords.

So those are the hot tips from Lonely Planet. And don’t forget, nothing makes you feel like you want to stick around planet Earth a little longer than witnessing some of life's most awe-inspiring sights, tastes, and sounds. Research from the University of California has shown how experiencing awe brings out positive emotions—and it can actually impact physical health by reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even Alzheimer's.

"Perhaps one of the most important pieces to creating meaning in your life as you age is to always keep a sense of awe," says psychologist and author Deborah Serani. "The world is a place that we often don't get to explore when we're young, so when we get older, we have a chance to do that and experience moments that truly touch our soul."

Maybe that should be the very definition of a bucket list?

Source: http://news-view.co.uk/highlights-lonely-planet-best-travel-2018-ready-rewrite-bucket-list/  11/10/17

Please note that The Little Guide To Your Bigger Future™ is not responsible for the content of third party web sites.

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Exercise as you get older prevents the immune system from declining

Doing lots of exercise in older age can prevent the immune system from declining and protect people against infections, scientists say.

"If exercise was a pill, everyone would be taking it. It has wide-ranging benefits for the body, the mind, for our muscles and our immune system."

So says Prof Norman Lazarus, 82, of King's College London, who took part in and co-authored the research, recently published in the journal Ageing Cell.

The scientists studied 125 long-distance cyclists, some now in their 80s, and found they had the immune systems of 20-year-olds.

Co-author of the research, Prof. Janet Lord, Director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham, said: "The immune system declines by about 2-3% a year from our 20s, which is why older people are more susceptible to infections, conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and, potentially, cancer. Because the cyclists have the immune system of a 20-year-old rather than a 70- or 80-year-old, it means they have added protection against all these issues."

The researchers looked at markers in the blood for T-cells, which help the immune system respond to new infections. These are produced in the thymus, a gland in the chest, which normally shrinks in size in adulthood. They found that the endurance cyclists were producing the same level of T-cells as adults in their 20s, whereas a group of inactive older adults were producing very few.

The researchers believe that being physically active in old age will help people respond better to vaccines, and so be better protected against infections such as flu.

Fellow co-author and Professor of Physiology at King's College London, Steve Harridge, said: "Being sedentary goes against evolution because humans are designed to be physically active. You don't need to be a competitive athlete to reap the benefits - or be an endurance cyclist - anything which gets you moving and a little bit out of puff will help."

It was also found that the cyclists did not lose muscle mass or strength, and did not see an increase in body fat - signs usually associated with ageing.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-43308729
https://www.barchester.com/news/10m-brits-will-live-be-100-says-government https://uk.news.yahoo.com/10-million-brits-alive-today-will-live-see-100th-birthday-150028500.html
11/10/17

Please note that The Little Guide To Your Bigger Future™ is not responsible for the content of third party web sites.

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Ten million Brits ‘will live to 100’

It’s no secret that the British population is getting older, but according to new figures released by the government, ten million of us living today can expect to reach the magic age of 100. At present, there are just 15,000 people in the UK who have reached their 100th birthday, so the official estimates show a huge change. And to support this ageing population and the challenges it presents, ministers have announced a cash injection of £300 million to research ageing.

To deal with the demand on the NHS, social housing and other services presented by greater life expectancy, the ‘Ageing Society Grand Challenge’ will allocate £98 million for a ‘healthy ageing programme’ and £210 million for a ‘data to early diagnosis and precision medicine programme’ to improve diagnosis of disease and develop new medical treatments and technologies. Included will be £40m for the UK Dementia Research Institute, in partnership with University College London, to create a hub in which 350 leading scientists will research treatments for the condition. An estimated 850,000 people in the UK are living with the disease.

The government is highlighting the need to ‘revolutionise’ the way we get older in this country. One of the main aims is to facilitate the elderly remaining healthier and independent for as long as possible.

Business secretary Greg Clark’s pledge will have a number of components to it. They will include the dementia research hub as mentioned above and a disease prevention project that analyses more than 500,000 patients. It’s hoped that such initiatives will contribute to making British scientists world-leading when it comes to ageing.

Mr Clark said: “Through our Industrial Strategy, we will not only boost innovation and productivity across the UK, but we will also ensure that this government changes people’s lives for the better. We are investing over £300 million into developing the treatments of the future, in new technologies that will revolutionise the way we age and provide everyone with the best possible chance to grow old with dignity in their own home. By 2020, we want to be the best country in the world for dementia care and research.”

One of the things that is seen as key in tackling conditions associated with old age is early diagnosis. Investment in genome sequencing is likely to help with this and usher in a new wave of therapies that will improve the quality of life for many people.

Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for Care added: “As a society we are living longer – a child born today can expect to live to 100 years – but now we must seize the opportunity to improve the quality of lives lived longer. With an increasingly ageing population we must transform the way we think about our work, our housing, our health, our finances and our communities. These investments will not only help in our aims to make this the best country in the world to live with dementia but provide a revolutionary vital boost to develop and scale up products and services of the future, ensuring everyone can age well and live more independently throughout their lives.’

As the population ages, it’s not surprising that people are working for longer. Separate figures last month showed that a record number of women are now working into their 50s and 60s. Plans are in place for the state pension age to rise to 66 by 2020, but predictions from government actuaries suggest it will reach 70 by the 2050s.

Source: https://www.healthinsurancedaily.com/health-insurance/product-area/life-critical-illness/article485043.ece  11/10/17

Please note that The Little Guide To Your Bigger Future™ is not responsible for the content of third party web sites.

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20 Easy Habits That Help You Live Longer, according to science

The good health habits listed below are all based on studies and /or scientific research. Full details of the origins of this research can be found by following the Reader’s digest link at the end of the article.

1. Go for a jog… or walk

Among all the things you can do to achieve longevity, one of the most critical is to exercise. Aerobic activity, like running, is crucial for getting your blood pumping and your heart working. A recent study showed that a one-hour run adds seven hours to your life. People who run have a 25 to 40 percent reduced risk of early death, and live about three years longer, the study says. Of course, people who run are often healthier in general, but running appears to have its own health benefits. Running regulates blood pressure, increases lung capacity, reduces stress, and increases bone density.

Not up to running? Well even taking a brisk 20-minute walk a day is beneficial. According to research presented at the European Society of Cardiology, 25 minutes a day of moderate exercise, including brisk walking, can add three to seven years to your life.

And just think about this for a moment. How do you feel when you take a walk in the park—good, right? Research has shown exposure to nature can help mental health, and the benefits of going green may even help you live longer.

2. Be careful what you eat and drink

A recent study from Harvard found that people who ate a diet high in processed meats like sausage and hot dogs, were at a higher risk of death—but those who got their protein from plants had a lower risk, especially of heart disease-related deaths. The research also found that eating nuts daily can reduce the rates of death from cancer, heart and respiratory disease.

Eat more fruits and vegetables. Nothing new in that advice, but it still holds true. A recent study from Imperial College London found that those who ate 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day had the greatest reduction in risk of disease. High fibre diets have been found to promote lower cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers such as colon cancer.

Eat fish. Eating fatty fish such as salmon at least twice a week helps to boost intake of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. Another Harvard study showed that people with higher levels of the healthy fatty acids in fish oils had a 35 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease.

Drink coffee and tea. Some research indicates moderate coffee intake may fight against type-2 diabetes, and may even reduce the risk of dementia and heart disease. Coffee also stimulates the nervous system, raising metabolism and increasing the oxidation of fatty acids, which can help with weight loss. And tea? Both green and black teas contain a concentrated dose of catechins that help blood vessels relax and protect your heart. (Some studies suggest that adding milk may eliminate tea’s protective effects on the cardiovascular system, so maybe best to stick to honey or lemon!)

Drink alcohol in moderation. Heavy drinking increases health risks, but drinking in moderation—particularly red wine—could help you live longer. One study found those who drank lightly (no more than one glass a day for women and two for men) to have reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

And finally… eat like the Japanese! Stop eating before you're full—a tradition called "hara hachi bu." The Japanese have the highest life expectancy in the world. In fact, the older people on Okinawa appear to be the healthiest elderly population in the world.

3. Don't smoke

This isn’t news. Smoking cessation is the single most preventable cause of death and the cause of almost every severe health issue, from heart disease to cancer. Smoking can also make you age faster with increased wrinkles!

4. Stress Less

Reducing stress is one way to lower our risk of many deadly diseases. A study from the University of California found that chronically stressed women had significantly lower levels of klotho, a hormone that regulates the ageing process. Another study found stress increased the risk of heart attack and stroke. Chemical changes in the body cause increased harmful particles called free radicals to be released, which can cause damage to organs and raise blood pressure. Reducing stress can also help improve sleep and interpersonal relationships.

5. Be generous and supportive to others

Connecting with other people is a great stress reliever, which can help your long-term health. And the best way to harness these benefits is by focusing not on yourself, but on others. A recent study conducted with an elderly population showed that those who engaged in helping others and supporting others ended up living longer lives.

6. Sleep well!

We lead busy lives, and the part of our day that often ends up getting cut is sleep. But if you want to actually have more days in your life, you need enough shut-eye. At least seven to eight hours of good sleep each night is the general rule of thumb. Any less will decrease the immune system. “Studies show that poor sleep can lead to all kinds of health problems, from obesity and heart disease to depression, says sleep expert Richard Shane, PhD, creator of the Sleep Easily method. "Good sleep can help reverse all of those damaging effects, which can help you live longer," he says. In addition, he says good sleep can help your energy level, cognitive function, and personal relationships. "So you don't just live a longer life, you feel good and live a better life," Dr. Shane says.

7. Don't sit all day

Even if you don't feel like you can embark on a major fitness regimen, any amount of movement you do can extend your life. As little as 10 minutes of light activity a day—even simple things like walking around your home or doing chores—can reduce your risk of dying. But inactivity may be as bad for you as smoking! This lack of stimulus to the muscles, even just a lack of standing or taking a short walk every hour or two, can produce harmful effects such as an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and many forms of cancer like breast and colon. Sitting all day slows down the body metabolism so fewer calories are being burned, and levels of blood sugar and cholesterol can increase.

8. Keep your brain active

Your brain also needs some exercise, so give it a mental workout to reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's. Keeping the brain stimulated leads to improved cognitive functioning for longer. One way to keep your brain active is to do puzzles!

9. Maintain friendships

Those who connect with others in meaningful ways have a greater chance of a long life. It helps us enjoy better mental and physical health, even speeding up recovery from disease. A landmark study from the University of Michigan showed an increased risk of death among people who had a low quantity and quality of social relationships.

10. Find a sense of purpose

When you have something to live for, you just might end up living longer! And science backs this up—a study from University College London found that among over 9,000 people over age 65, those who had the greatest sense of purpose in their life were 30 percent less likely to die during the next eight years than those with the lowest sense of purpose. Creating meaning in your life brings happiness and greater health.

11. Think positive

A positive outlook on life in general has also been shown to increase lifespan. A recent study from Harvard looked at how levels of optimism affected different health problems, and found the most optimistic people had a 16 percent lower risk of death from cancer, a 38 percent lower risk of death from heart disease and respiratory disease, and a 39 percent lower risk of dying from stroke. The researchers believe that having a positive outlook makes you more likely to engage in healthy behaviours like exercising and eating right.

12. Age gratefully

We've all heard about ageing gracefully, but it's important to age gratefully as well—meaning if you think of a long life in positive terms, you're more likely to have one! Research has proven that cultivating gratitude increases well-being. After all, growing old is better than the alternative, isn’t it! Being grateful can help you prioritize what's important, reduce stress, and give you the motivation to stay active and eat well.

13. Stay hydrated

We are made of mostly water, so keeping sufficiently hydrated helps our body work better and longer and is essential for promoting optimal health. Drinking water can help to allow all of your body systems to function correctly, including the kidneys and liver – and it’s good for your skin, too. Increasing water consumption by one to three cups could reduce calorie intake by up to 200 a day, so it's also a great weight-loss aid.

14. Take a holiday!

Simply going on holiday could be one way to live longer. Recent studies of middle-aged men and women, some at high risk for heart disease, found that those who took annual vacations were less likely to die. Scheduling holidays not only reduces stress, but increases an individual's overall happiness. Those with less stress have a stronger immune system and may be more likely to fight off cancer-causing agents.

15. Get a pet

Our connections to others don't need to be of the human variety to add years to our lives. Scientists are just now discovering why this is, although any pet owner will tell you their furry friends make them happier. Studies have shown interacting with animals lowers the stress hormone cortisol and increases the feel-good hormone oxytocin, and reduces blood pressure and cardiovascular risk. Dogs also encourage exercise.

16. Practice preventative medicine

No one likes going to the doctor, but having all recommended check-ups and preventative screenings for your age, sex, and family history is worth it. Regular screening check-ups can increase your life by potentially finding preventable or modifiable diseases in their infancy. If, for example, blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol are found earlier and treated adequately through lifestyle changes and/or medication, then a potential future heart attack or stroke can be prevented.

17. Maintain a healthy weight and shape

Being overweight or obese is associated with a host of life-shortening health issues, including heart disease and diabetes. In particular, being "apple-shaped," or having extra weight around the middle (greater than a 39.4 inch waist for women and 47.2 inch for men), was linked to a greater risk of death in a European study. When eating, sugars introduced into the body need to go somewhere! Exercise and a healthy diet can help it from going to your mid-section.

18. Laugh a lot!

Laughter really might be the best medicine. Science has backed up the old adage, and finds that a sense of humour can even help extend your life. A recent study from Norway found that among more than 53,000 people over a 15-year period, women who rated high for humour on a cognitive questionnaire had a 48 percent lower risk of death from all causes! How does that work? Well, researchers think deep laughter might actually be a form of exercise that decreases arterial stiffness, helping your heart. Other studies have shown laughter to improve blood sugar in diabetics and help cancer-fighting NK cells. And of course, laughter is a great stress-buster, isn’t it?

19. Get some plants

A Harvard study found that people who live in areas with more vegetation and green areas have a 12 percent lower rate of mortality. But if you can't be in nature, bring nature to you to help reap the health benefits of green living. A study from the University of Georgia found that five ornamental houseplants, including English ivy, waxy leaved plants, and ferns, reduced the level of volatile organic compounds (VOC) in indoor air. These pollutants can lead to health issues from cancer to neurological disorders, and cause up to 1.6 million death a year, the study authors say. So filling your house with plants could potentially reduce your risk of these deadly diseases!

20. Take some me time

Finally, setting aside time to focus on activities you enjoy is a mind-body strategy that can lower stress and make your life more purposeful, adding to your days. Taking a day off to have 'me time,' whether that be going to the spa or catching up on things around the house, benefits us all in the long-run by reducing stress. Just reading quietly for 30 minutes each night, taking a yoga class or watching TV for 30 minutes to an hour can even help with detaching from day-to-day stress. Whatever works for you.

Source: https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/live-longer/   11/10/17

Please note that The Little Guide To Your Bigger Future™ is not responsible for the content of third party web sites.

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8 Smart Tips for Successfully Managing Stress

Stress reduction is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, just like diet and exercise. Because when you're stressed, your head may start to hurt, or you may feel nauseated, dizzy, or just plain overwhelmed. Stress can have a huge impact on every aspect of your life, so stress reduction is necessary for maintaining both your physical and emotional health. Since you can't simply wish stress away, managing stress is a vital skill to develop.

Whether you experience a sudden stressful situation, such as a major issue at work or a crisis at home that needs to be addressed right away, having a plan for stress in place is a good idea, says Larry Kubiak, PhD, a psychologist and the director of psychological services at the behavioural health centre of Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare in Florida. "Stress can occur at any time or place, and we do our best when we have tools at the ready to deal with it," he explains.

If it's an urgent problem that requires your immediate attention, managing stress is important so that you can think clearly. The same is true with ongoing, nagging concerns about your job, health, finances, or family members that create a steady build-up of stress. "Know the kinds of things that are available to you on short notice so you can utilize them, such as listening to music, going for a short walk, or guided imagery," says Dr. Kubiak.

1. Step back and put the problem in perspective
Maybe you're disappointed that you didn't get a promotion you were up for or concerned that money is a little tight this month because of an unexpected medical bill. Feeling stressed is a natural reaction. But try to take a step back and ask yourself: Will this issue still matter in a year? In five years? If the answer is no, take a deep breath and try to move forward. Keeping things in perspective is crucial to managing stress.

2. List some solutions and come up with a plan
If there's a specific problem you need to fix, make a list of all possible solutions and pick the best one for your situation. Realizing that you have options and coming up with a concrete plan will have a direct effect on stress reduction. "Break the task into smaller parts so you can try to accomplish what you need to in an hour, a day and then next week so the problem becomes more manageable," suggests Kubiak.

3. Accept those things that are beyond your control
Some circumstances are simply beyond our control, and we have to learn to cope with and accept them. Fortunately, you do have control over how you react to stressful situations. Staying calm and being willing to accept emotional support from others can help in managing stress.

4. Give yourself a break to relax and recharge
Daily stressors can creep up on you before you realize it, so treat yourself to at least one relaxing activity every day. Listening to music, meditating, writing in a journal, or enjoying a soothing bubble bath are all great ways to relax and relieve stress. "Meditation allows us to clear our minds and be able to see things in a more realistic perspective," notes Kubiak. Taking time for yourself is important for both preventing and managing stress.

5. Try to get some regular exercise every day
Exercise is one of the best methods for managing stress because it can relieve both the physical and emotional effects of stress. Consider fitness choices that also deliver specific stress-reducing effects like yoga, tai chi, Pilates, or one of the martial arts, all great ways to get rid of pent-up stress and negativity. "Exercise can help regulate and dissipate in a productive way those 'fight or flight' stress chemicals in the brain," says Kubiak.

6. Open up to people and express your feelings
If something's bothering you, don't keep it to yourself. Talk to people you trust, like friends, family, or co-workers, about what's on your mind. Even if you're not looking for specific advice, it usually feels good just to get your feelings out into the open.

7. Set reasonable expectations in your daily life
Being busy is sometimes inevitable, but regularly taking on more than you can manage can cause unwanted and unwelcome stress. Tell yourself that it's okay to say no to activities at your child's school or to extra projects at work — you are not obligated to accept every request made of you. Additionally, don't take on more financial responsibilities — such as a new car or a bigger house — if you think they'll be a stretch. Being realistic about your finances is an important strategy for managing stress.

8. Resolve issues before they become crises
It’s human nature to avoid unpleasant topics and circumstances, but if you're concerned about a brewing situation, whether it's at work or at home, address it early to keep it from becoming more serious, harder to solve, and more stressful for you. Problems are always easier to handle before they develop into full-blown calamities.

Everyone feels stress — it's impossible to avoid it all the time. But it is possible to keep stress under control by setting realistic expectations of yourself, learning how to keep problems in perspective, and enjoying relaxing breaks from the daily demands of life.

Source: www.healthinsurancedaily.com  11/10/17

Please note that The Little Guide To Your Bigger Future™ is not responsible for the content of third party web sites.

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Cohabiting couples failing to take out life cover or wills

Cohabiting couples are less likely than married couples to take out a will or life insurance, research suggests.

A poll from Direct Line found just 26% of cohabiting couples have a legal document outlining what would happen to their estate if they die. Meanwhile, 38% do not know what their legal rights would be if their partner passes away. One in 10 (11%) cohabiting Brits believe that if they own a home together they would inherit their partner’s share of the property.

However, the law states that surviving partners may only inherit the shared property if their partner expresses this intention in a will. If not, their share of the property would be inherited by their next of kin.

Despite this, less than a third (26%) of co-habiting partners have a will, compared to 52% of married couples.

The research also reveals that just 29% of cohabiting couples have life insurance, compared with 39% of married couples.

Jane Morgan, business manager of Direct Line Life Insurance, said the law is still somewhat behind the times in regards to cohabiting partners. “Our research aims to highlight the lack of awareness around this issue and will hopefully encourage people to think about putting plans in place in case the worst should happen,” she added.

Source: www.healthinsurancedaily.com  14/02/18

Please note that The Little Guide To Your Bigger Future™ is not responsible for the content of third party web sites.

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Older workers exceed 10 million for the first time

The number of workers aged over 50 has exceeded 10 million for the first time.

It represents a near doubling of the population since equivalent records began in 1992, and a reflection of increasing life expectancy.

Alistair McQueen, head of savings and retirement at Aviva, said a longer working life is good for the economy and can be good for people’s wellbeing, with higher levels of job satisfaction.

“Businesses have a responsibility to support their older workers. We need to invest in our older workers by extending caring leave, challenging prejudice, promoting flexible working, and investing in career development,” he stated.

Stephen Lowe, group communications director at retirement specialists Just Group, added that many people aged over 50 might not have a choice about working or not.

Research by Just suggests four in 10 over 65s are forced to retire or go part-time earlier than expected due to circumstances beyond their control.

“Unfortunately, older workers still cannot assume that they can determine when they stop working or return to the workforce. So planning ahead is important if people are to feel confident of their financial situation in later life,” Lowe said.

The Office for National Statistics figures show that the number of over 65s in employment reached 1.18 million in September to November, albeit slightly less than 1.21 million two years ago.

Source: www.healthinsurancedaily.com  29/01/18

Please note that The Little Guide To Your Bigger Future™ is not responsible for the content of third party web sites.

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Spring clean your finances

Will I run out of money?

It’s one of the BIG questions, isn’t it. And it’s a fear shared by the wealthy as well as the not-so-well-off, believe it or not.

The answer is to make sure you are able to afford to continue living the lifestyle of your choice without eroding your capital. The key, of course, is regular income derived from a capital resource or asset, but I’m getting slightly ahead of myself, because the money you have available in the future will almost certainly depend on your actions today. That’s why regularly checking that you are making the most of the money you have now is so important. Call it a spring clean if you like. And it’s not just about savings and investments. Being careful about what you spend your money on is just as important.

Sort your paperwork
This is a good place to start so that you can gain an holistic appreciation of your finances. Things like bank statements, utility bills, insurance renewals and such like will give you a good indication of what money you have coming in and what you have going out!

Get rid of things you pay for but don’t use!
Again, check your bank account. This could highlight a number of items or services, standing orders and direct debits, that you pay for but may not use – or could do without.

Compare and switch
Research shows that millions of us fail to take the trouble to compare services such as bank accounts, insurance, credit cards and energy providers and as such may be missing out on big savings. Check it out!

Forgotten bank accounts?
If you think you have money stashed in a long-lost account, don’t despair. You can probably still get hold of it. A free service such as http://www.mylostaccount.org.uk/ could help you find it!

Make the most of the money you save
That usually means taking advantage of all the tax breaks you can. In the book I suggest a number of alternative, tax-efficient savings vehicle, including pensions and Individual Savings Accounts. I also put forward my top five tips for maintaining healthy personal finances:

1. Calculate the income you will need going forward into Your Bigger Future™ and the capital required to fund it (Capital and Income Calculator available at www.yourbiggerfuture.co.uk).

2. Plan your future expenditure and allocate your finances accordingly. Use the ready-made templates Your Bigger Future™ Planned Expenditure and Your Bigger Future™ Personal Finances (available in the book and as downloads at www.yourbiggerfuture.co.uk).

3. Seek professional financial advice if you need it so that you can maximise your tax allowances and keep track of your investments.

4. Make a Will! Ensure your legacies will be allocated according to your wishes.

5. Insure yourself against ill health. Protect your family.

Further in-depth information about personal finances is available in the book which can be purchased as a hard copy, kindle or audio version. A proportion of the proceeds will go towards my chosen charity, The Pied Piper Appeal.

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Married people ‘have higher heart disease survival rates’

Britons living with any of the three biggest risk factors for heart disease have higher survival rates if they are married, research suggests.

Researchers based at Aston Medical School in Birmingham studied the survival of people who had the three main risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.

They found that people with high cholesterol were 16% more likely to be alive at the end of the study if they were married. The same was true for diabetes and high blood pressure, with married people having 14% and 10% higher survival, respectively, compared to those who were single.

The researchers suggested the support offered by a spouse may be a key factor behind the improved survival.

In particular, they suspected that people are better at managing these risk factors when they have the help of a loved one.

Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said: “The take-home message is that our social interactions, as well as medical risk factors such as high blood pressure, are important determinants of both our health and wellbeing.”

Source: www.healthinsurancedaily.com    09/6/17

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UK employees ‘one month from the breadline’

Employees in Britain could maintain their current lifestyle for only a month if they lost their source of income and had to rely on their savings, according to research.

The survey by Legal & General of 2,000 full and part-time employees found that the average employee’s “deadline to the breadline” was just 32 days. But for more than a quarter (26%) of those surveyed the deadline was just one week or less.

The deadline rose a little to 36 days if respondents reined in their spending, but one-fifth (21%) would still only be able to live off their savings for up to one week.

Although the average employee had just over £6,500 in savings, they believed they would need a further £9,830 to feel financially secure. Nearly a quarter (23%) said they did not save any of their income each month. 

The statistics also showed a variation in the deadline across the UK. Northern Ireland had the longest deadline at 36 days whereas Wales had the shortest deadline at 26 days.

Richard Kateley, head of intermediary development at Legal & General, said the UK continues to suffer from a protection gap which is exacerbated by a lack of savings and planning. He warned that this is leaving many families at risk of financial instability should the main earner fall seriously ill or sadly pass away.

Source: www.healthinsurancedaily.com  07/6/17

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10 changes to make in your 30s to ensure lifelong success

Many people spend their 20s getting some unhealthy behaviours out of their system — like sleeping until 2pm on Saturdays and spending all their disposable cash on new kicks.

But your 30s are an ideal time to cement the habits that will help you achieve personal and professional fulfilment for the rest of your life.

Here are 10 lifestyle tweaks you can make in your 30s to lay the foundation for lifelong success:

1. Stop smoking.

If you've started smoking, stop immediately. While you can't undo the damage you may have already incurred from smoking, research suggests that those who quit before age 40 have a 90% lower mortality risk than those who continue.

2. Start going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day.

It might be tempting to use the weekends to recoup your sleep debt, but it is recommended you hit the hay and wake up around the same time every single day. If you oversleep for even a few days, experts say you risk resetting your body clock to a different cycle, so you'll start getting tired later in the day. Avoid a lifetime of sleep issues by sticking to bedtime and wakeup routines whenever you can.

3. Start exercising regularly.

Try to move yourself as much as possible. It doesn't matter if it's walking, cycling, running, weightlifting, hiking, swimming — as long as it involves some movement. In the later half of your 30s, you start losing muscle mass, so it's especially important to exercise at this time. But remember to choose physical activities you really love, since you're less likely to continue exercising if you dislike your workouts.

4. Start keeping a journal.

Journal your life! Your written records will entertain and endear in your future. Even if you'd prefer to keep your musings to yourself, putting your thoughts and feelings on paper can help you deal with stressful events.

5. Start saving money.

Building the habit of saving early means you'll continue it further down the line. It might seem like your golden years are a lifetime away, but the earlier you start saving, the more time your money has to accrue interest.

6. Start pursuing a life dream.

Don't delay pursuing your life goals. Want to buy a house? Have kids? Write a book? Pick one of those life goals and get started. What can you do between now and the end of the year to embark on one of them?

7. Start learning to be happy with what you have.

If you are content with what you have, you will have a happier life. It's really about gratitude: Research suggests that appreciating what you have can increase happiness and decrease negative feelings. Perhaps that's why Oprah Winfrey kept a daily gratitude journal for years.

8. Stop thinking you need to satisfy everyone.

Choose your friends and contacts more carefully. You are not obligated to be nice to people who are unfriendly toward you. Whether you decide to whittle down your Facebook friends to a mere 500 or simply hang out more with the people who make you happy, it's important to invest your time and energy wisely.

9. Stop comparing yourself to others.

If you are unable to do some things in life compared to your siblings and friends, then be at peace with yourself. Don't be harsh on yourself. Constantly peering over your shoulder to see what others are doing doesn't help you accomplish your goals. You'd be better off spending time thinking about what you want to achieve and evaluating your progress on those fronts.

10. Start forgiving yourself for your mistakes.

Forgive yourself your mistakes. We all make plenty of them. Don't dwell on the errors of the past — learn from them, let them go, and move ahead. Self-compassion (the ability to forgive yourself and learn from your mistakes) is the key driver of success. That's likely because people who practice self-compassion see their weaknesses as changeable and try to avoid making the same errors in the future.

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk   02/05/2017

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Regular exercise for the over-50s 'sharpens the mind'

Doing moderate exercise several times a week is the best way to keep the mind sharp if you're over 50.

A review of existing data found both aerobic exercise and strength training appeared to improve cognitive functions, such as memory, attention, and how well people carry out tasks.

The review brought together information from 39 studies in the biggest summary of the effects of exercise on mental ability to date.

Previous summaries of research have had unclear results. But this study found most types of moderate to vigorous exercise had a positive effect as long as sessions lasted at least 45 minutes. The researchers say doctors should recommend people take part in exercise on as many days a week as possible.

Importantly, the study found people benefited even if they were already showing signs of mental decline. This means exercise might help those with early signs of dementia stay mentally alert for longer.

The study, carried out by researchers from the University of Canberra and Australian National University, provides yet another reason to keep active in later life – both the mind and the body should benefit.

It's recommended that adults do at least 150 minutes of exercise a week, ideally through a combination of aerobic and strength training exercises.

The study found, overall, taking part in an exercise programme had a small to moderate positive effect on cognitive function, although this varied considerably from one study to another. People's mental abilities at the start of the study made no difference to the results – people were likely to benefit even if they already showed signs of mild cognitive decline.

Looking at different types of exercise separately, the study found that:

  • All types of exercise except yoga showed a positive effect on cognitive function
  • Aerobic and resistance training (such as weight training) showed similar effects, suggesting that both types of exercise are important
  • Exercise duration of 45 minutes to an hour showed better results than shorter or longer exercise sessions
  • Moderate and vigorous exercise showed better results than low-intensity exercise

 

The researchers said their findings "suggest that an exercise programme with components of both aerobic and resistance-type training, of at least moderate intensity and at least 45 minutes per session, on as many days of the week as possible, is beneficial to cognitive function in adults aged more than 50 years".

It's no surprise to hear that exercise has health benefits – but not everyone knows that it's good for your brain as well as your body.

This study provides evidence that, even for people with some signs of declining mental function, regular moderately intense exercise has a positive effect.

Other ways you can reduce your risk of dementia include:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Regular exercise
  • Not drinking too much alcohol
  • Stopping smoking (if you smoke)

 

Source: http://www.nhs.uk/news/2017/04April/Pages/Regular-exercise-for-the-over-50s-sharpens-the-mind.aspx  26/04/2017

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Having fun and a positive outlook on life will help you live longer and reduce stress hormones

According to a new study, over-50s who enjoyed life were 25 per cent less likely to die early.

Experts from University College London looked at 9,365 adults with an average age of 63 over a six-year period. They checked how much they relished life on three separate occasions.

They found those that were consistently happy had much better survival prospects.

Over a six year research period, over-50s who felt they were happy had better survival prospects.

High-enjoyment individuals were 24 per cent less likely to die young, compared to those who took little satisfaction from life.

Experts also took into account wealth, education and overall health.

Professor Andrew Steptoe, from the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, said: “The effect is sizeable – trying to enjoy life seems to have real benefits.

“People who enjoy their lives over a period of years had better survival than those who are less happy.”

One theory for the protective effect of enjoying life is that happier people take better care of their health. And another is it reduces stress hormones and inflammation that can trigger illness.

The findings are published in the British Medical Journal.

Source: https://www.thesun.co.uk/   14/12/2016

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Life expectancy ‘increasing by 15 minutes an hour’

Life expectancy is increasing at a rate of 15 minutes each hour, according to an expert in ageing.

Professor Sarah Harper, who founded the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, said babies born today are now expected to live to 104 on average.

By the end of the century there will be 1.5 million centenarians in the UK, up from 14,500 currently.

Speaking at the Hay Festival, Harper said half of the population now could reach their 80s.

Brits are gaining roughly 2.5 years of life expectancy per decade, or 15 minutes an hour.

Harper was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying: “We are really talking about extending lives in a way we haven’t experienced before. We have to start asking ourselves about the worlds we are going to live in with these very long lives.”

Harper claimed that obesity is not hitting life expectancy much, but it is still a problem because people will be disabled for longer.

“Obesity only decreases life expectancy by 1.5 years, but it increases disabled years by six years,” she said.

Source: www.healthinsurancedaily.com  06/06/2017

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What is the 150 club and how might it change the future of healthcare?

As a nation we're all living longer, happier and healthier lives. With a huge number of clinical studies providing insights around ageing, the future of meaningful healthcare, and humans joining the 150 club, is fast becoming a reality.

“Threescore years and ten” is a much-quoted biblical limit on how long people might once have expected to live – though the “Good Book” grudgingly admitted that a few strong folk might carry on a bit longer. And for much of human history that forecast was a surprisingly accurate upper limit – few could really expect to live much beyond 70.

But in the past 50 years, medical, technological and social changes have not only raised the average human lifespan but, just as importantly, added the crucial benefit of longer-term health and well-being in those later years.

Research is providing growing insights into what seem to be basic mechanisms behind ageing at a cellular and molecular level, for example – holding out the promise of an even greater transformation of human life spans. But more data is needed – and, crucially, a way to understand the data.

Philips, the health technology company, is one major player helping to put data to better use. It has found that, remarkably, nearly 70 per cent of medical data remains largely unsifted for insights that could help clinicians improve the daily practice of medicine. “The challenge is not only to make sense of this data, but to make it relevant, actionable and timely,” says Jeroen Tas, executive vice-president of connected care and health informatics at Philips.

“I think a lot of technology has focused on keeping people alive. But they’re not healthy, and they have bad habits,” adds Dr Mark Aloia, global head of health behaviour change at Philips. “And so exercise, nutrition, sleep – and I’d add stress management – are critical.”

As a result of initiatives such as those being pioneered by Philips, there are experts today suggesting that people already born could more than double that old biblical standard and become part of what has been dubbed the “150 Club”.

 

1. So what causes ageing?

People often talk about some of the health and well-being issues experienced in later years as if they are somehow inevitable. Everything from feeling a bit creaky in the morning and moments of forgetfulness to chronic illness is taken on board with a sigh as simply being part of “getting older”.

But thinking more broadly, “ageing” is a more mysterious process, though we are beginning to see how it relates to a complex interplay between things such as metabolism, brain-to-body ratio and environment. The strange fact remains that some animals have a lifespan of just a few hours while others live healthily for hundreds of years. If “ageing” were just a matter of the time someone is alive, why are lifespans in the natural world so crazily diverse?

For humans, data suggests that while people are living longer in relative health, there remains a stubborn general upper limit to lifespan, somewhere in the nineties. This seems irrespective of positive lifestyle changes, improved economic circumstances and better healthcare. It means that, while a typical 80-year-old today is similar in health terms to a 60-year-old a century ago, a 95-year-old today is pretty much the same healthwise as a 95-year-old was a century ago. So what happens to us in our nineties?

Evidence now suggests the major driver of this frustrating late downturn in health is an accumulation of molecular and cellular damage throughout the body. Treat this, and the idea of banishing age-related illness and humans reaching the 150 Club looks more than a dream. Continuing research highlights areas for future tinkering. The accumulation of biological waste products that disrupt processes in cells seems to be one factor in the damage we call “ageing”, for example.

Research has also found a smoking gun, in the shape of telomeres. These cap the ends of each chromosome in our body, and act in a similar way to plastic tips on a shoelace – stopping our DNA becoming “frayed” and ceasing to function properly. But telomeres become shorter each time a cell divides throughout our life, and eventually they can become so short they stop working and the cell begins to malfunction in ways associated with disease and “ageing”.

 

2. Living longer naturally

While telomeres and cell waste accumulation are part of longer-term research towards creating the 150 Club, other factors have already hugely extended lifespans around the world.

The dramatic rise in average global life expectancy has been one of humankind’s greatest achievements. While the majority of people born in 1900 did not live past the age of 50, figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) found the average global life expectancy in 2015 had risen to 71.4 years. Global average life expectancy surged by five years between 2000 and 2015.

Even with a continuing shameful gap in life expectancy between the richest and poorest countries – 60 years in the WHO African region, 76.8 years in the WHO European region – there is some cause for celebration. For example, the 2000-15 increase in life expectancy was actually greatest in the WHO African region, where life expectancy increased by 9.4 years – driven mainly by improvements in child survival, and expanded access to antiretrovirals for treatment of HIV.

And while experts rightly point to the need to address wider social issues caused by the rising percentage of older people, others put a positive spin on the “ageing society”.

“Ageing is a triumph of development: people are living longer because of better nutrition, sanitation, healthcare, education and economic well-being,” said a recent report on ageing by the United Nations Population Fund. To which the WHO added a further positive note, speaking of “a future that takes full advantage of the powerful resource inherent in older populations”.

 

3. Lifestyles for longevity

Japan scores highly when it comes to old-timers – the Land of the Rising Sun has the highest proportion of centenarians in the world. But similar lengthy lifespans occur elsewhere too, in what scientists call “blue zones” of longevity. These include the Greek island of Ikaria, the Nicoya peninsula in Costa Rica and America’s longest-lived community, the Seventh-Day Adventists of Loma Linda, California. Are there common factors uniting these widely separated communities?

So-called “superfoods” spark periodic buying frenzies around the developed world, from obscure berries to kale. Scientific analysis, however, tends to scotch the idea that any single foodstuff is truly remarkable. Good for you, yes; miraculous, no.

Instead it is a spread of certain foods that is linked to increased healthy longevity in various spots around the globe. These include fish (especially oily fish), beans, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains – combined with less red meat, dairy and sugar. Research suggests this kind of diet minimises the accumulation of molecular damage in our bodies that is linked to ageing.

Take the Japanese island of Okinawa – one of the world’s brightest beacons of healthy longevity. Older people here present very low rates of arteriosclerosis, stomach cancer and hormone-dependent cancers such as breast and prostate cancer. And diet is thought to play a key role.

Experts believe contributing dietary factors on the Okinawan plate include regular eating of squid and octopus (high in cholesterol-reducing taurine), sweet potatoes (rich in flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamin E and lycopene) and a local bitter melon – called goya – that has been shown to reduce blood sugar in diabetics. Just as tellingly, the generation of Okinawans born since the arrival of the US airbase and its accompanying fast-food outlets have demonstrably declining health compared with the island’s older population.

Other “blue zone” spots contribute specific foods to a wellness diet for a robust old-age too – one great example being olive oil.

But while diet is thought to contribute a third of the factors affecting how long and healthily we live, others are important too. Some, like telomeres, are in our bodies’ hard-wiring. But other lifestyle factors can still provide a major boost to well-being in later years for us all.

Keeping active is one. Many elderly Okinawans, for example, tend vegetable patches that provide priceless outdoor exercise as well as nourishing food. Similar factors may explain why communities that still involve people in food cultivation show associated longevity.

Community engagement is another factor that seems to aid healthy longevity. This contrasts the tendency in many developed countries to see older people as a burden on society best shunted into care homes where they fade away quietly out of sight of a youth-obsessed wider society. But rather than a “burden”, elder citizens should be seen as particularly valuable community members with priceless experience to share.

One key way to help older people maintain their sense of community is to assist them in staying in their own homes. And Philips is pioneering products and programmes to assist this, even for people with chronic health conditions. Philips has a range of telehealth technologies that allow patients to transmit health data to professional carers without having to pay a visit to their doctor or hospital.

By making it easier for patients and doctors to connect and exchange information, the system helps older people continue to live in their own homes, while safely managing health conditions. These telehealth technologies empower patients and caregivers, speed up diagnosis and treatment, and enable better recovery and home care.

Philips is pioneering a broad and innovative approach to helping older people to achieve wellness in later years.

 

4. Prevention

More and more people are living with chronic preventable lifestyle conditions that, in the UK, presently cost the NHS around £11 billion a year, according to a report by Public Health England. But underlying that alarming statistic is another one – that 40 per cent of middle-aged people in the UK are living with chronic conditions that could have been prevented by earlier preventative action. For some conditions the stats are even worse, with 80 per cent of current cardiovascular disease now thought to have been preventable with simple lifestyle changes in earlier years.

“These are shocking statistics and we need to find solutions,” says Nikos Anastasopoulos, business development director for personal health at Philips. “Prevention is key because we have an ageing population, increasing costs and a rise of chronic conditions – data shows that more than 60 per cent of the UK population is either overweight or obese.”

And Mr Anastasopoulos is clear that these changes can have a huge impact at a wider social level in terms of the health of the UK economy as well as its people. “The five-year forward view from the NHS has estimated we will have a £30 billion deficit [in the health service budget] by 2020,” he points out. “These are huge numbers. We focus more on sick care than health care. Something needs to change in the health care system today and in our society. Technology can help people take better control of their own health.”

 

5. Sleep

Good sleep is vital to the body’s ability to restore and repair itself daily, and a lack of it is an important contributing factor undermining well-being across all ages. Conditions such as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) are implicated in serious conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke, for example.

Sleep expert and Philips clinical services manager Anwen Evans highlights how social changes such as artificial light have impacted badly on sleep patterns. “Since we became a 24-hour society, we’ve cut back on sleep,” says Ms Evans. “However, sleep is as vital for survival as food and water. 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.”

And as we get older, this “sleep debt” can be worsened by disruptions of the ideal sleep pattern. The key element of this is the 25 per cent of time we should spend in the deepest sleep – known as non-REM 3 – which is the restorative stage where essential repair of physical and mental wear and tear takes place.

But as we get older, people can experience health issues that hit this vital restorative phase. “If somebody has a condition such as obstructive sleep apnoea, they may not be able to achieve restorative sleep at all. They wake up in the morning feeling totally unrefreshed, despite maybe having spent eight, nine or 10 hours in bed,” says Ms Evans.  

OSA is a common cause of serious sleep disruption – and not just for older people. When we sleep our upper airway muscles relax, and in some people they relax so much that the airway tube collapses, first triggering snoring, then blocking the airway and stopping breathing (apnoea). As oxygen levels fall, the body acts to get breathing going again – often manifested by an explosive burst of snoring.

Sufferers from OSA may not wake up fully – but their sleep is disturbed dozens of time every night. Other things that might impact badly on sleep are pain or some medications prescribed for other conditions.

According to Ms Evans, only 20 per cent of OSA sufferers have been diagnosed and given therapy. “We hear all the time that the NHS is under considerable strain – so the more companies like Philips can support people in their efforts to adopt a healthier lifestyle, the more impact we will have to reduce this strain,” she says.

 

6. Data monitoring

Streamlining and facilitating the monitoring of important general health metrics – blood biochemistry, heart rate and physical activity – is a key area where Philips is pioneering ways to help patients maintain their independence. These also save valuable time and money by allowing patients to measure their health stats in their own time at home or while out and about, and then transmit the data safely and accurately to healthcare professionals.

The Future Health Index research commissioned by Philips this year underscores the potential of digital technology to encourage and empower people to take a more active role in their own health and well-being. “I think the focus of medicine will shift more towards behaviour,” says Dr Aloia, citing approaches to the global epidemic of obesity.

“At Philips we absolutely support efforts to make sure people stay alive longer – but we want them to have quality lives,” says Dr Aloia. For Philips, though, technology is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

“It’s not just about finding the next widget we can sell. It is about trying to transform healthcare globally. And this is why we talk about things such as behaviour change. There’s a difference between intention and persuasion. Intention is we just build the widget and hope a lot of people would get it and that will result in something. Persuasion is to home in on the way to support people in making a change. Behaviour change is critical.”

Dr Aloia says the key is to act when people are younger, sending positive behaviour change down the ladder of years. “We don’t want to wait until people are older – we would love to try to instil the right behaviours earlier in life,” he says. “And that speaks very well to the 150 Club. If we do this right, now, then many of those potential 150 clubbers will live healthier lives as older adults because we started early.”

Even if the idea of humans living happily and well to 150 remains a dream for the future, the broad-based person-focused approaches being pioneered by Philips provide a bold leap forward on the right road.

Source: The Telegraph, By Norman Miller

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Baby boomers 'should work for longer to stay healthy'

The baby boomer generation, now in their 50s to 70s, should stop thinking about putting their feet up when they retire – and maybe not retire at all for the sake of their health, according to the government’s chief medical officer.

Professor Sally Davies, in her latest annual report on the health of the nation, says that people of retirement age might do well to stay in work if they can, or else get involved in community and voluntary activities that will keep both mind and body in better condition than sitting in a fireside chair.

“People are living longer than ever and so retirement presents a real opportunity for baby boomers to be more active than ever before. For many people it is a chance to take on new challenges, it is certainly not the start of a slower pace of life it once was,” said Davies.

“Staying in work, volunteering or joining a community group can make sure people stay physically and mentally active for longer. The health benefits of this should not be underestimated.”

Some 42% of 50-64 year-olds have at least one health condition and 24% have more than one. Staying active through appropriate work – heavy physical work such as building may not be advisable – or volunteering will help. Social engagement is also very important for mental health.

Davies told the Guardian that she was not saying that retirement should be abolished. She added: “We’re not saying you must stay in work. Moderate steadily. Stay active, stay in the community. Don’t become isolated, is the message, whether it’s staying in work, volunteering or working with the family. All of that is good for long term health, both physical and mental.”

Davies, who has just had her 67th birthday, pointed out that she is still working. She said that if she looks younger and fitter than her years, it’s “partly because I go out and exercise twice a week and try and maintain my weight. I think it’s very important people realise it’s never too late to try and increase activity and make sure the lifestyle is a healthy one”.

By 2020, it is expected that a third of British workers will be over 50. More than three-quarters of those aged 50 to pension age are still working, and 12% of people who are older than that.

Studies have shown that early retirement, when it leads to a busy and active social life, can benefit people who are better off, with larger pensions. But those who do not have enough money in retirement can suffer ill-health related to the stress of their financial insecurity.

The report, Baby Boomers: Fit for the Future, also looks at the sex lives of older people and the need to keep their weight under control, in order to avoid debilitating illnesses when they reach old age.

Read the report

Source: The Guardian 8/12/16

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'Middle age health crisis' warning

Middle-aged people in England face a health crisis because of unhealthy lifestyles, experts have warned.

Desk jobs, fast food and the daily grind are taking their toll, says Public Health England. Eight in every ten people aged 40 to 60 in England are overweight, drink too much or get too little exercise, the government body warns.

PHE wants people to turn over a new leaf in 2017 and make a pledge to get fit. Health officials say the "sandwich generation" of people caring for children and ageing parents do not take enough time to look after themselves.

We are living longer, but are in poorer health because we store up problems as we age.

The campaign's clinical adviser, Prof Muir Gray, said it was about trying to make people have a different attitude to an "environmental problem".

"Modern life is dramatically different to even 30 years ago," Prof Gray told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "People now drive to work and sit at work. By taking action in mid-life... you can reduce your risk not only of type 2 diabetes, which is a preventable condition, but you can also reduce your risk of dementia and disability and, being a burden to your family," he added.

Many people no longer recognise what a healthy body weight looks like, say the officials - and obesity, which greatly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, is increasingly considered normal.

The PHE website and app has a quiz that gives users a health score based on their lifestyle habits by asking questions such as, "Which snacks do you eat in a normal day?" and "How much exercise do you get every day?"

The questions are simple, but the results are revealing, says Prof Kevin Fenton, director of Health and Wellbeing at PHE.

"The quiz will help anyone who wants to take a few minutes to take stock and find out quickly where they can take a little action to make a big difference to their health."

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Dr Ellie Cannon said PHE recognised that the "sandwich generation" was "incredibly busy".

"This is about making small changes that can have this really big improvement for your long-term health," she added. "People want this, people want the help... it is not encouraging people to take on board anything expensive or anything complicated."

More than a million people have taken the quiz so far. One of them is Lee Parker, who is 41 and from Bolton. He did the quiz in March before starting a diet in August.

He says it was his son who provided a much-needed wake-up call. Lee's son, who is now eight, told him he loved him "even though you are fat". This was the final nudge that Lee says he needed.

Weighing more than 22 stone, Lee started to diet and exercise and lost just over five stone in 16 weeks. His partner has joined in and has lost two and a half stone.

In April 2017, Lee will be taking part in the Manchester marathon. He says: "You can become very complacent when you are in your forties. You kind of think you've done everything and so you can relax and eat pizzas and Chinese in the week. I've still got another stone to go to my target weight. It's been very, very difficult. I'm missing all the cakes and the crisps and the biscuits.... I still have them, I still enjoy them, but I know when to say no and I know how much I've had."

Another quiz participant, Penny Henderson, says her bad habits "slowly crept up" on her with how much she was drinking and that she was not really exercising.

"When I took the test, I actually was not that honest and I kind of lied... I think I just did not say exactly how much I was drinking and that was quite a wake-up call. I realised if I was lying to myself then it must be bad," Ms Henderson told Breakfast.

After cutting down on alcohol, Ms Henderson said she had more time for things, was less stressed, coped with work better and, that family life was more pleasant.

"The thing is to keep it always achievable and then you can keep it up," she added.

Source BBC News 28/12/16

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Finding a sense of purpose could help you be happier — and richer

What does it mean to have a sense of purpose?

We already know from past research that having a greater “sense of purpose” is good for us psychologically: it’s linked with experiencing more positive emotions and generally feeling better about life.

Now a study in the Journal of Research in Personality suggests there are material benefits too. Researchers followed the same sample of people over a period of about nine years, and they found that during that time, those individuals who reported a greater sense of purpose at the study start had accumulated greater wealth.

What does it mean to have a sense of purpose? Patrick Hill and his colleagues measured it by asking 7108 US residents to rate their agreement with three statements: “Some people wander aimlessly through life, but I am not one of them”; “I live life one day at a time and don’t really think about the future”; and “I sometimes feel as if I’ve done all there is to do in life.” Participants were considered to have more sense of purpose if they agreed strongly with the first statement while disagreeing strongly with the last two.

The participants also completed a basic personality questionnaire, rated their life-satisfaction, and then answered questions about their income and accumulated wealth. At the study start, participants with more sense of purpose earned more and had accumulated more wealth, even after factoring out the influence of personality and life-satisfaction, and other personal details like education.

Between seven and ten years later, the researchers managed to re-interview nearly 5000 of the same participants. They found that those individuals who’d reported more sense of purpose at the study start had accumulated more wealth over this time period, and they experienced greater increases to their income. Again, this was true even after controlling for the influence of other factors like personality, life-satisfaction, education and marital status. Statistically speaking, a one standard deviation increase in purpose at the study start was associated with accumulating an extra $20,857 over the ensuing nine years or so of the study.

Breaking the results down by age group, the financial benefits of purpose were stronger among older participants at the study start, but the purpose-related gains over time were greater for younger participants aged 20-35. In fact, for participants older than 35, there were no long-term benefits of purpose through the study, perhaps because they had already been accrued by the study start. These age-related findings suggest that a sense of purpose might have particularly strong financial consequences as people are starting out in their careers.

It’s a shame the researchers didn’t ask the participants about the content of their sense of purpose. For example, is it only job-related or money-related long-term objectives that are likely to aid wealth acquisition, or might similar benefits accrue from any kind of sense of purpose that engenders the pursuit of more constructive daily activities and a focus on the future? Hill and his team speculated a little vaguely that more purpose in life leads to greater wealth because it goes together with a greater capability and propensity to pursue long-term goals. They acknowledged some limitations of their findings, including the fact they relied on self-reports on wealth and income.

“These caveats aside,” they concluded, “the current findings provide evidence that even when it comes to finances, finding a purpose in life appears to be well worth it.”

Source: Business Insider UK 10/1/17

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Seven reasons why getting old is more fun than you think

It’s a common assumption among some people that getting older is something to be at best, ignored and at worst, feared. Advancing years are associated with receding hairlines, creeping wrinkles and a decline in physical and mental capabilities. When you think of it like that there really isn’t much to shout about.

But there is another interpretation of getting older which is much more positive. Older people are more content than younger people, according to a report by insurer AVIVA.

Here are seven reasons why getting older is a lot more fun than you might think.

1. You could be healthier and happier than you were when you were younger

There are plenty of 50- and 60-somethings who are a lot fitter than most people 30 or 40 years their junior suggesting that they consume fewer calories, take more exercise and eat less junk food. But surely getting older makes you miserable? Not a bit of it. AVIVA’s report indicates that older people are actually happier than younger ones.

 

2. You could also be wiser

Why might older people be happier than young people, when young people are so full of life and vitality? The answer seems to be stress. While young people are beset with stresses and anxieties about careers, romance, finances and friends, older people have an accumulated experience which tells them (to put it simply) not to sweat the small stuff. They know that getting that promotion isn’t the be all and end all, and they know that - as it turns out - there really were more fish in the sea. In other words, older people are better at seeing the bigger picture. We suppose you might call it wisdom.

 

3. You’re probably underestimating how much fun it will actually be

Again, the picture younger people have of retirement is generally negative, but Aviva’s recent Voice of New Retirement report found that we may actually be underestimating how happy we will be in our later years. The report revealed that 62% of those interviewed who are now retired mention that, in their experience, retirement has been better than they imagined.

The best retirement is one in which you can afford to do all the things you want to do, of course, whether that means travelling the world or lavishing time and money on beloved grandchildren.

 

4. You’re likely to be happier with your sleeping habits

Part of the reason older people are so full of vim, compared to their younger counterparts, is that they they’re happier with their sleep. There is an epidemic of sleeplessness sweeping the Western world, and insomnia is one factor that can limit the happiness of people of working age. According to the Aviva Voice of New Retirement report, 53% of retired people are happy with their sleep, compared to 39% of the unretired.

 

5. You’ll probably feel less lonely

Another misconception about old age is that it can be lonely and isolating. While that is unfortunately true for some, a study published last year by the Office of National Statistics actually found that older people generally were more satisfied with their lives than those in middle age.

 

6. All the power, all the time

You might have heard of the power of the ‘grey pound’ or the ‘grey vote’? The simple fact is that the UK is an ageing population and according to the Office of National Statistics, the median age continues to rise. More Britons than ever are in their 60s, 70s and 80s. Which means older people have real power, and will increasingly be courted by politicians, businesses and advertisers. More and more services will be geared towards the needs and desires of older people. Now won’t that be fun?

 

7. You might travel more

So some older people tend to be happier, less stressed, better rested and often healthier, and it turns out they use all this vitality to have a lot of fun, too. That might simply mean more car journeys to see friends or relatives – something which in itself promotes happiness – but it can also mean more foreign holidays and even backpacking trips.

 

Source:  Huffington Post 18/1/2017 (Huffpost Lifestyle UK)

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This is what it takes to become a millionaire

Becoming a millionaire takes time, but you can get there if you're patient. So how patient do you need to be?

Two decades and a bit, apparently, according to Fidelity International.

Fidelity has put a precise number on how long it could take the average UK investor to become a millionaire: 22 years and five months. That isn't so long, giving our rising life expectancy. Fidelity points out that the tax-efficient individual savings account (ISA) allowance rises to £20,000 from 6 April 2017. If you invested your full ISA allowance each year, your portfolio should be worth a cool million by around July 2038.

These figures assume that the ISA allowance rises by an inflationary 2% a year. They also assume your funds grow 5% a year before inflation and charges. If your portfolio grows faster than that, you could make a million that much sooner. Also, many private investors will have a healthy existing portfolio, and will already be well on the way towards hitting that target. Millionaire-dom for the masses.

Let the snowballs roll!

Better still, all that money will be free of income tax and capital gains tax if held in an ISA, making you a tax-free millionaire, which is probably the best type of millionaire of all. Fidelity investment director Tom Stevenson says the sooner you start investing the better, because your money has more time to grow. This gives you more time to benefit from the magic of compounding, the snowball effect of generating earnings on top of previous earnings.

The disappointing truth is that it will take most investors longer to become a millionaire, because you have to be fairly wealthy to stow away £20,000 a year. Don't give up if you can't come anywhere near that, every penny you put away is a wise investment for your future, even if you never quite hit millionaire status. You can always throw in more as you get older.

The key is to start early: the first £1 you invest is the most important of all because it has more time to snowball, and grow into something big. You should also forget cash, because with the average savings account paying around 0.4%, and inflation at 1.6%, this will only destroy your money in real terms. If you had invested £15,000 in the FTSE All Share index 10 years ago, on 31 December 2016 you would have had £25,769. However, if you left the money in the average UK savings account, you would have a paltry £15,846, Fidelity calculates. That's nearly £10,000 less.

Source: Yahoo! Finance 3 February 2017

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Fitness checklist reveals the exercises you should be able to do at different ages

If you’re in your 20s, you should be able to run 5K in 30 minutes and complete 20 burpees (squat thrusts) in a row.

That’s according to a fitness checklist devised by a major health club, which details the exercises that will reveal if you’re fit and healthy at different ages. The checklist follows research by the health club that suggests 32 is the age when Brits start exercising for their health rather than their looks.

In a survey of 2,000 adults, over half (58%) of Brits under 25 stated “looking good” was their number one motivator for working out. This reduces to just 36% for those aged 35-44 and over, who prioritise activeness over abs.

When asked what is more important to them, over half of people between the ages of 25 and 34 (55%) claimed they’d rather look slim and toned in their holiday photos than be fit enough to run a marathon. Over 50% (52%) of women agreed with this statement, in comparison to just 39% of men.

The research also found that over 55s are also likely to spend more time working up a sweat, exercising on average 4.8 hours a week (12% higher than those under 24). In comparison, the national average is 4.3 hours a week.

The research was commissioned by Virgin Active as it launches an in-club service that gives people access to experts who help improve fitness, movement and wellbeing through a combination of Reformer Pilates, sports massage and physiotherapy.

These are the excises the programme’s creator, Tim Wright, says you should be able to complete at different ages.

In your 20s…

  • Run 5K in 30 minutes
  • Perform 20 burpees in a row
  • Hold a full plank for one minute each side 

 

In your 30s…

  • Run a mile in less than 9 minutes
  • Hold a plank for 45 seconds
  • Deadlift more than 50% of your bodyweight

 

In your 40s…

  • Sprint for 60 seconds without stopping
  • 10x press ups without stopping
  • Touch your toes comfortably whilst keeping your legs straight

 

In your 50s…

  • Run at a moderate pace for 60 seconds without stopping
  • 5x burpees without stopping
  • Lower yourself into a cross-legged sitting position on the floor (without using your hands) and then return to standing

 

In your 60s…

  • Regularly take more than 10,000 steps in a day
  • Perform 12 bodyweight squats without stopping
  • Touch your fingertips with one hand over your shoulder and the other behind your back 

 

In your 70s…

  • Walk a mile in less than 16 minutes
  • Climb a flight of stairs with 10 steps in under 30 seconds comfortably
  • Rise to stand from a chair without using hands or arms and repeat 12+ times in 30 seconds

 

Source:  Huffington Post 07/02/2017 (Huffpost Lifestyle UK)

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Author meets rugby ace at book launch

Author of ‘The Little Guide to your Bigger Future’ Brian Morman chose the 2017 Gloucestershire Motor Show on 10th June to ‘officially’ launch the book.

The Motor Show, held at historic Highnam Court just outside Gloucester is run annually in support of local charity, the Pied Piper Appeal. It was the perfect venue for Brian to promote the book because a proportion of the proceeds is earmarked for the charity.

On hand to congratulate Brian was Phil ‘Raging Bull’ Vickery, rugby legend and past winner of TV’s Celebrity MasterChef. Phil is a Vice Patron of the Pied Piper Appeal.

Brian said, “I was given a platform at the event to talk about the book and subsequently, business was brisk! A fiver from every sale will go to Pied Piper.”