SO it’s official. I’m getting older, overweight and need to start changing my lifestyle and eating habits.
Yup, it’s time to finally accept I’m a forty-something who has to stop living like I’m in my twenties.
SunSport’s Justin Allen has an “over-40s” health check with Northampton Town boss Jon Brady at the club’s training ground
Ex-player Brady tells Justin how he has had to kick his beloved croissants from his breakfast routine to stay healthy
Northampton Town gently broke the news after they invited me to undergo a health-check designed for people aged 40 and above, alongside their manager Jon Brady.
So what happened to that well-worn belief that life begins at 40?
The Cobblers have been going into their community visiting local businesses to give employees in that age category hassle-free tests.
Akshay Mistry, the club’s community sports participation officer, is the man entrusted to deliver those checks.
The roughly 20-30 minute procedure includes measuring body mass index (BMI) by taking height, weight and waist measurements — and then checking blood pressure and heart rate, cholesterol levels and, if necessary, a diabetes test.
Usually such check-ups are performed at a local GP surgery but getting a doctor’s appointment nowadays seems impossible.
Akshay has performed more than 300 tests since the club started conducting them — and the Cobblers have almost certainly saved two people’s lives after discovering their health statistics were at dangerous levels.
He told me: “We want to get people between the ages of 40 and 74 checked. It’s an easy procedure but GP surgeries have their hands full so this takes the pressure off the NHS while making these tests more accessible.
“Anything that can get flagged now will work better later as this can prevent future problems.
“If you have high blood pressure and are overweight to the point it’s dangerous that could be the end of you.
“But if you can discover this now, you can do something about it — either by changing or moderating your lifestyle and diet or, if at dangerous levels, being referred to a doctor to put you on medication as well as making a plan.
“I’ve come across two who I referred to a GP — and it’s a good job because had they not had the check they almost certainly could’ve one day suddenly dropped dead.”
The checks are done in coordination with Public Health England and the results uploaded to the NHS database to give your GP access.
And even people who appear to live a healthy lifestyle can find that sometimes all is not as well as they think.
Take Cobblers boss Brady, who is 48, for instance. He has lived his life in football — playing either in the EFL or at the top of non-league and working as a coach.
He likes running, regularly walks his dog and is surrounded by healthy food and drink at the club’s training ground.
Jon Brady gets his height measurement taken by Akshay Mistry
Northampton boss Brady has his blood taken to test his cholesterol
Ex-Cambridge United wideman Brady is ready for his blood pressure test
But, not so long ago, he did a check through the League Managers Association and was stunned to find there was a health issue that needed addressing.
He told me: “The test flagged up my cholesterol levels needed to drop.
“They were concerned and did a lot of testing. I even had to wear the blood pressure measuring device for 48 hours.
“And it came out that I need to look after my cholesterol. I’ve certain enzymes that aren’t working properly.
“I always thought I was fit and healthy but that wasn’t the case. I now watch what I eat. I love a croissant in the morning and my wife goes mad at me — so I don’t have them anymore.
“It’s non-dairy tasteless yoghurts with blueberries for me!”
So on to my own check. My height is just shy of 6ft, waist is 39 inches and weight is 98.4kg. This means I have a BMI of 30 and, for the first time in my life, am officially obese! Although personally I think Akshay needs to check his dodgy tape measure and scales!
Like Brady, I enjoyed running — often going for 5k or 10k runs — but since the pandemic have lost that enthusiasm.
Our man Justin gets his finger pricked in a cholesterol test
Akshay takes Justin’s waist measurement
I drink beer and wine, love food, enjoy socialising and have a job which takes me away from my home regularly, making it difficult to get into a healthy routine.
Then came the blood pressure and heart rate test. Two readings were taken .. the systolic pressure (when your heart pushes blood out) and diastolic pressure (when your heart rests between beats).
Mine came in at 139 (sp) and 93 (dp) … healthy levels are below 140 and 90. So my systolic pressure is creeping towards an unhealthy high while the diastolic pressure is now over the healthy threshold.
However, the good news is I’m not at the worrying 160/100 level that would require me to be referred to a GP.
My heart-rate came in at 99 beats per minute. However, that was probably because it was pounding in fear that Akshay was about to tell me I’d no longer be able to scoff delicious pizzas, Chinese takeaways or kebabs.
My Apple Watch says my average resting heart rate for the last week has been 78 — which is within the average level of 60-100.
And finally my cholesterol levels were recorded after having some blood pricked from one of my fingers.
Alan WalterSunSport’s Justin Allen undergoes a Health Check at the Northampton Town FC training ground[/caption]
Brady works in the stressful environment of football management
While The Sun’s Justin Allen has a busy schedule as a football writer
My overall total came in at 3.74, which is a healthy level. Anything between five to six would mean you seriously need to eat healthier — but anything above that would require an urgent doctor’s appointment.
My “good cholesterol level” only came in at 0.71 though. A healthy person would expect to have that at least 1.0.
So I asked Akshay for some health tips.
He said: “Your BMI isn’t exactly where you want it. For your height, you should lose about 10kg. That will automatically bring your waist down too.
“Your blood pressure isn’t too bad but you do need to bring it down slightly. Losing weight should help that.
“You also need to add more healthy cholesterol to your blood. So good food is the answer — oily fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel will help. Also things such as raw nuts, avocados, blueberries and non-dairy yoghurt and supplements of fish oils or multi-vitamins are all great.
“And you need to get your resting heart rate down a bit. You don’t need to lift weights but I’d recommend doing more aerobic exercise. That should do the trick.”
I’m going to get on it but, sorry, not ready to give up a steak and ale pie and a pint at the football. That is a non-negotiable. Got to run now … must meet my mates down the local boozer … er, sorry, I mean health club!
THE EFL’S 72 clubs have been running community events as part of the league’s Week of Action.
A report — produced by research experts Substance — showed that EFL clubs created more than £865MILLION of social value across England and Wales between 2019 and 2022. More than £101m has been generated for community investment.