For my medical examination i went to a modern hospital in a neighbouring city. It was a private hospital.
The examiner was a young guy, obviously a big sports and fitness enthusiast. His name was Phil. I told him about my cycle training routine,
This is what I learned. And these are the steps I have taken.
My body is shrinking a little. I used to be 5 ft 9 and a half inches. Now I am 5 ft 8 inches.
My body fat, at 26.5%, was over the recommended level of 25% for someone of my age. I bought a body analyser and I now monitor my body fat score. My body fat is sticking up over 20%. I have resumed the 5-2 diet, taking less than 600 calories on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
My resting blood pressure tested at 152 over 86. That’s way more than the recommended limit of 120 over 80. Now I have a blood pressure monitor. I measure my blood pressure first thing in the morning, taking the average of three readings. I am still averaging more than 140 over 80.
My postural assessment was poor. I need to increase the flexibility and strength of my back. My score was only 2 out of 5. The problem is hyperkyphosis or excessive curvature of the upper back. They showed me the x-rays. I have spent too much time leaning over work or standing with a slouching posture.
I went to the websites he recommended and set myself an exercise programme. I also got some upper body exercises from Time magazine. This routine takes nearly an hour. It’s designed to increase my upper body fitness and the flexibility of my spine. It’s quite boring. I listen to the radio while I do these exercises.
My VO2 max was over the normal level for my age. This tests the amount of oxygen I can process while exercising. That was good. It means my aerobic fitness levels were at the higher end of the recommendation for my age.
My body glucose level was in the recommended range but my total cholesterol was too high. Too high levels of low density cholesterol results in the formation of plaque in the arteries called atherosclerosis. I now need to get a more detailed cholesterol test to find out if my levels of low density cholesterol are too high. I am hoping my diet and exercise plan will help to address this issue.
My diet was assessed. Phil was keen on a “Mediterranean” diet high in fibre, fruit and vegetables and low in sugar, saturated fat and salt. My diet, based on my responses, was pretty good, but I could eat more fish and take more water. (My generation did not grow up with a water bottle in its hands. I now keep a water flask beside me on my desk.)
Phil did not think I got enough sleep. I guess I should not be here writing this at 6am.
I don’t drink too much alcohol according to my test responses. (The daily recommended limit is about two pints of beer or two shots of spirits for men. I take a shot of malt whiskey most evenings and drink wine with friends.)
The tests also measured my quality of life and ability to manage pressure through a series of questions. That did not come out too well. On the basis of my answers, my perceived well-being shows a lack of optimism and self-esteem. Also poorer resilience, which means the resistance of my sympathetic and para-sympathetic nervous systems to shocks or surprises is sub-optimal.
Phil said I must continue with my cycle training programme from the British Heart Foundation. I will.
I have been thinking about what Maureen said, that our brains are a kind of excess growth that will lead our death as a species. Huge animals once died away when an asteroid burned up carboniferous forests. Small creatures with whom they shared some genes scrabbled for remnants and lived on.
I see tiny monkeys on the verges of empty highways or sifting the litter of blasted cities.
I will watch my body and understand it better, if I can.