On Your Marks: My struggle for fitness and better health starts here

Having my blood pressure taken - which turned out to be good!

Sussex Sports Editor Mark Dunford is taking on a challenge to get healthier and fitter. Here he starts with a health check.

In six months time, I hope there will be a picture accompanying an article similar to this with arms raised crossing the finishing line of a half marathon.

That’s my target.

For some people a half marathon is a doddle, for some a marathon is easy. But for me walking between the car park and work causes me to sweat and huff and puff. I have not been fit since 1997.

That’s why I am taking on this challenge - I want to get fit and healthy.

Are you taking on a challenge to get healthier? Or have you got a fitness regime that works? Let us know your story by emailing mark.dunford@jpress.co.uk. You can also follow me at @On_YourMarks

Dr Minesh Patel

But I also want to find out what it takes for someone who is overweight and non-active to achieve a goal like this - and hopefully you will follow me on this journey
To kick off this challenge I started with a general health check.

The NHS Health Check is a health check-up for adults in England aged 40-74. It’s designed to spot early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes or dementia.
As we get older, we have a higher risk of developing one of these conditions. An NHS Health Check helps find ways to lower this risk.

And I met with Dr Minesh Patel, who has been a practising GP in Sussex for nearly 19 years.

Before our meeting I had to have a blood test at my local GP - Coachmans Medical Practice.

Dr Amanda Molloy briefly talked me through my results and they were generally pretty good, apart from uric acid issues - but I knew I had gout problems.

So armed with these results - Dr Patel, who has an interest in cardiovascular health, talked me through where I am health-wise after taking my blood pressure, looking at my BMI (36.3 obese) and doing a Risk Calculator.

The Risk Calculator looks at what sort risk you are at of heart disease over a certain period of time. My result was a 1.39% of heart disease in the next 10 years, and when I am 95, there is a risk of somewhere around 45% - which is pretty heartening (please excuse the pun).

Dr Patel said: “What this does it quantifies your lifetime risk - and this sounds awful in some ways - we all die eventually this is calculating it to an age of 95. Your risk of having a cardiovascular event is somewhere around 45%. If I take your 10 year risk, that is really low.

“Anything below 10% as a risk over 10 years is deemed to be low risk. Anything between 10-20 is moderate and anything above 20 is high.

“But your score is really good.

“The only thing that can slightly influence that number is any hereditary issues like you family has had a lot of heart disease at a young age or your mum and dad had type 2 diabetes it tends impact on that score in away that the risk calculator does not quantify.”

So basically apart from being obese and having the odd attack of gout (Dr Molloy prescribed me with some preventative medication), I have a good basis to start from.
What may be a bigger hurdle than health and weight is the mental barriers I will have to get over to running a half marathon.

Over the next few months I will talk to different people, take on some smaller challenges and keep you informed with how I am getting on.

Next week I will be looking at diet and what Dr Patel recommends.

Coaching service from health group

The Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex Clincial Commisioning Group (CCG) has a tailored health coaching service to help people with long-term health condition.

In partnership with Impact Initiatives and West Sussex County Council, The NHS Tailored Health Coaching Service will help you to achieve lifestyle changes - putting you in control. They aim to improve your knowledge, skills and confidence of your own health and social care by agreeing goals that are achievable and sustainable.
There are local health and wellbeing support services in Crawley, the Horsham District and Mid Sussex.

Dr Patel said: “Health coaching is more about activating people to get more engaged with their own care and it can work well. It’s a supportive progress.

“Any adult with a long term condition and there’s good evidence that people who engage, especially people who are really unmotivated to look after themselves that they actually make significant changes to where they started from and their mental health and well being all tends to improve.

“Anyone wants to get fitter, more active more included in things the Well Being service is brilliant. They are brilliant places for people to access that ongoing advice.”

To find out more, click here

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