King’s Lynn firefighters are leading the way lead the way in encouraging people in Norfolk to make small, achievable changes in 2017 that could make a big difference to their health.
Members of North Lynn Fire Station’s red watch.
Lots of people indulge in more food and alcohol over the festive period, and resolve to be healthier in January. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle in the long term can be a challenge, and as a result many people in the county are putting their health at risk. It’s estimated that two thirds of Norfolk residents are now overweight or obese and around 20 per cent of the population are thought to be drinking at a level which increases the risk of damaging their health.
Now people in Norfolk are being urged to check if they could make some small changes to improve their health by taking the One You online quiz at www.nhs.uk/oneyou/how-are-you.
The quiz, called ‘How Are You’, takes around 10 minutes to complete and asks people a series of lifestyle questions. At the end, people are given a score out of 10 and suggestions for how they could improve their health, as well as links to support them to make these changes.
More than 1.1 million people have taken the quiz so far and been directed, where relevant, to download Public Health England’s free mobile apps like Couch to 5K, Drinks Checker and Easy Meals.
Nearly a quarter of a million people have subsequently downloaded Couch to 5K, which is designed to get people more used to sitting in front of the TV to become runners in just nine weeks. The Drinks Checker app makes it easy to keep an eye on how much alcohol people are consuming and take control with daily tips and feedback, while the Easy Meals app is a great way to plan healthy, easy-to-make meals. All are available to download for free from Apple’s App Store and Google Play.
The One You campaign is particularly aimed at those aged between 40 and 60, as in middle age the risk of having a stroke or developing heart disease, diabetes or kidney disease increases.
Dr Louise Smith, Director of Public Health at Norfolk County Council, said: “This is a great time to make those small changes to your life that will have a big impact on your health in later years. Taking simple steps now can double your chance of being healthy at 70 and beyond.”
Around 40 per cent of all deaths in England are related to everyday habits and behaviours – such as eating too much unhealthy food, drinking too much alcohol, not being active enough or continuing to smoke. They also cost the NHS more than £11 billion every year.
Some small changes that most people could make to improve their health and maintain a healthy lifestyle in the long term include:
Building being more active into your daily life – walking or cycling to work, going for a walk at lunchtime, walking to the shops instead of driving. Set yourself a realistic but challenging step or activity target each day and track it using a pedometer or app on your mobile phone.
Replacing unhealthy snacks with fruit and vegetables – if you bring these to work with you, you’re less likely to be tempted to buy chocolate or crisps when you get hungry.
Getting some moral support – it’s far easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle if your friends or family are trying to be healthier too. Start a new sport or exercise class with friends and banish sugary foods from the cupboards at home.
Going alcohol-free on more days in the week – limit the days on which you have alcoholic drinks, particularly if you associate having a glass of wine or a beer with certain everyday activities, like making the dinner or sitting on the sofa in front of the TV.
Getting enough sleep – this has a direct impact on your health, but also on your energy and stress levels, which can make you more likely to make unhealthy choices when you’re awake.
For more information and advice to help you make small changes and lead a healthier life, visit www.nhs.uk/oneyou where you can also find a link to the How Are You quiz.
It’s important for firefighters at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) to be fit and healthy in order for them to be able to carry out their potentially life-saving jobs confidently and effectively. However, as people get older it can be more difficult to stay in good shape, and firefighters are no different.
Five firefighters aged 40 and over at King’s Lynn North Fire Station’s Red Watch decided to find out how healthy their lifestyles were and whether they could make any changes for the better by taking the How Are You Quiz.
Clive Wells, 52, is King’s Lynn North’s station manager and has been with NFRS for 26 years. After completing the quiz, he said: “I do an hour’s hard cardio exercise every morning and walk the dogs for an hour a day, so I think I keep fairly fit. I think you have to be more health conscious as you get older, I’m diabetic so without a shadow of a doubt that makes me more aware of the need to stay fit and healthy. My wife organises my diet so I have quite a strict diet to make sure my sugars are kept low, but I would like to lose a couple of pounds so I’ll try to eat a bit less in January.”
Steven Lyden, 41, has been a firefighter for 14 years. He said: “I’m reasonably healthy for someone my age. I bike to work most days, which is a 15 mile round trip, and I actually find it easier in the winter as I don’t get so hot on the bike. I don’t enjoy exercise but for me the motivation is getting to work, and it only takes me five minutes longer than driving, so it forces me to do exercise.
“You get a sense of your own mortality when you hit 40, and I had a bit of a scare a couple of years ago, so I feel better now than I did this time two years ago, just down to cycling and going walking with my wife.”
Lee Broadhurst, 42, is a crew manager at North Lynn Fire Station, and has been a firefighter for 20 years. He said: “I got six out of 10 in the quiz, so I’m alright but could do better and I have been better in the past. My diet’s not very good but that’s usually offset by activity. I’ve got some niggling injuries at the moment so that’s stopping me doing what I’d usually do – I still go kickboxing three times a week, but my injuries are stopping me doing some things I’d usually do there.
“My age is catching up with me a little bit, and it does make me think I should do better to be a bit healthier with my drinking and eating because I have put on some weight recently. Diet-wise, it’s been harder over Christmas as there’s more opportunities to eat food you shouldn’t and going to people’s houses for drinks. I’ve got a horrendous sweet tooth and, because we have kids, there’s been quite a lot of treats around at home because of the time of year. We do exercise together as a family and in the new year we’ll be getting back to the healthy eating as a family too, which will make it easier for me to be healthier.”
Mark Endersby, 42, has been a firefighter for 18 years. He said: “I cycle a lot, and compete in races, but my diet could be better. I eat a lot of fruit but I could eat more vegetables and cut down on processed carbohydrates – they’re quick and easy but I know they’re not the best for you. I want to be able to maintain my fitness and do what I’ve always been able to do on my bike, and it’s not going to get easier as I get older.”
Adam Ellis, 45, is a crew manager at North Lynn Fire Station. He’s been with NFRS for 20 years. He said: “I’m definitely more health conscious than when I was in my 20s. I coach cycling at quite a high level so if I’m telling people what to do I need to be able to do it myself.
“If people want to get into doing more exercise, the best advice I can give is to do it with friends. Cycling’s great because you can go out, cycle to a café and have a coffee and cake and bike back, so it’s really sociable. The quiz flagged up that I could do with doing some more strength work, and it’s something that I have been thinking about, so I should probably do more of that now I’m 45.”