Thomas Edinson. Inventor, scientist, business man.


If you find yourself more likely to reach for an unhealthy snack and a evening by the TV rather than your running shoes, you’re not alone. It seems that human nature makes us complacent in taking our well-being for granted. It is only when we begin to experience ill-health that we begin worrying about it.

Many of the the most common conditions in today's society such as heart disease, diabetes, lower back pain, stroke, lung cancer, depression, kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease could be prevented or improved by healthier lifestyles.

The purpose of this booklet is to provide information about the main contributing factors to good health and how we can live longer, healthier lives. 

Along with our content there are a number of excellent and trusted resources that we will sign-post you to and in particular place an emphasis on health related tools and  technologies such as apps to help you improve your well being.


Eubie Blake, composer and jazz pianist.


“If exercise had just been invented it would be hailed as a miracle cure.”

Sir Liam Donaldson International champion of patient safety and public health. 

Exercise is more effective than many medicines to treat Long term Conditions.

Exercise adds years to our lives and allows us to do more within those years.

Being fit and active can help prevent or manage many common long term conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, back pain, osteoarthritis, cancer and depression.

Regular exercises along with a balanced diet can provide enormous benefit to your overall health and make you more resilient to health problems in the future. Being more physically active can be easy and inexpensive.

We should aim to exercise as much as possible. The Department of Health recommends 150 minutes a week of 'moderate intensity activity' or 75 minutes a week of 'vigorous intensity activity'.

This might be achieved by doing household chores and gardening with vigour or by more obvious activities such as jogging.

Set Goals

50% of adults who start an exercise programme drop out within 6 months

Don't drop out. Set realistic goals and be gradual and progressive about achieving them.

Know your limits

If you're recovering from illness or injury or have restricted movement, take it easier and aim for 10 minutes a day to begin with. Choose gentler activities such as walking, swimming or cycling.

If you have back pain – avoid standing or sitting for too long. Be mindful that your back acts as a shock absorber so if it is troubling you try not to do exercises that jolt it.

If you have wear and tear in your hips, knees or ankles then try low impact activities and avoid hills as these can place extra strain on your knees.

Be prepared

Make sure you have the right kit for the right activity.

Well fitted shoes with good shock absorption will help you avoid injury.

Sticking to it

It's hard to stick to an exercise regimen. The trick is to incorporate the exercise into everyday activities.

Exercise Tips when you're out and about.

Try and leave the car at home and walk more. Use the stairs not the escalators. If you have to take the car, then park some distance from your destination and use a bit of leg power! Encourage others around you to be more active and be a lifestyle champion. Go walking or even dancing to get your heart rate going, your joints moving and to strengthen your muscles.


For any type of activity to benefit your health, you need to be moving quick enough to raise your  heart rate, breathe faster and feel warmer. This level of effort is called moderate intensity activity. One way to tell if you're working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk but you can't sing the words to a song.

If your activity requires you to work even harder, it is called vigorous intensity activity. There is substantial evidence that vigorous activity can bring health benefits over and above that of moderate activity. You can tell when it’s vigorous activity because you're breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you're working at this level, you won't be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

Exercise Tips when you're at home.

When settling down to eat, sit on your chair and stand up again 10 times before you start your meal. This will burn some calories and make you fitter. Think of your home as a gym... household chores can be your work out; vacuum with long drawn out movements using the whole body instead of just your arm. Time yourself to see how long it takes to house clean. Then try and do it faster with greater vigour next time.

Sit less – Stand more

Sitting is bad...really bad....if you spend most of your day sitting you are increasing your risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer -even if you are exercising regularly (read more)

Being less sedentary is as important as being more active.  So for example stand whenever you are on the phone at work or at home, look into using a standing desk and if you have to sit take regular breaks every half hour and spend a few minutes moving around.

Toughening up...the benefits of Strength Training

Want to reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass and burn calories more efficiently? ...strength training is a key component of overall health and fitness for everyone.

Use it or lose it

Muscle mass naturally diminishes with age and if you don't do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, you'll increase the percentage of fat in your body...but strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass — at any age.

Strength training also helps you:

• Develop strong bones.  By stressing your bones, strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

• Control your weight. As you gain muscle, your body begins to burn calories more efficiently. The more toned your muscles, the easier it is to control your weight.

• Boost your stamina. As you get stronger, you won't fatigue as easily. Building muscle also contributes to better balance, which can help you maintain independence as you age.

• Manage chronic conditions. Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, including back pain, arthritis, obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

• Sharpens your focus. Some research suggests that regular strength training helps improve attention for older adults.

Whatever you might be doing - think about your 'core' ; these are the key muscles that support your low back. Rather like the foundations of a house it's important to have a good base of strong stomach muscles to make us sturdy. Pull in your lower tummy and pelvic floor muscles a little way, try and keep breathing normally and hold. Keep practising or better still join a Pilates Class!  


So you're getting fitter but you need to challenge yourself further. Remember FITT :

Frequency – increase the number of times per week you are active

Intensity – walk, cycle, swim or doyour gardening a little bit harder and faster

Time – remember anything over 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise gives your body a significant health benefit whilst 45-60 is recommended to prevent obesity.

Type – if your activity is becoming a little too easy challenge yourself to make it more demanding like a walk into a gentle jog...

There's an App for that !

in fact there are loads but we particularly like

Couch to 5K

If it's been a long since you did any exercise, you should check out the NHS Choices Couch to 5K running plan.

It's made up of podcasts delivered over the course of nine weeks and has been specifically designed for absolute beginners.

You first start running for short periods of time and as the plan progresses, gradually increase the amount.

When the nine weeks ends, you should be able to run for 30 minutes non-stop, which for most people is around five kilometres.

Read more about Couch to 5K. 

Strength and Flex podcasts

The Strength and Flex plan is a five-week exercise programme delivered through five podcasts. The plan is a fun way of improving your strength and flexibility, and to get you motivated to exercise regularly. If you're not very active, don't enjoy exercise, need a bit of a push, or you simply want a way to get fit again, then Strength and Flex is for you.

Price: Free

Available on NHS Choices


A fitness app inspired by the video game world, Fitocracy makes exercise fun. Use the app to track your workouts, earn points, unlock achievements, beat quests, and slay the laziness dragon in you. When you join Fitocracy, you join a Facebook-style social network of supportive "Fitocrats" who will keep you motivated on your journey with daily inspiration and advice.

Price: Free

Available on iTunes

Got time ? ...Dr Mike wants to tell you about the single most important thing you can do for your health...


Edward Stanley, Earl of Derby (1826­ - 93)

Weight Management

The Body Mass Index tells you how big you are, not how sick you are.

Dr Arya M Sharma.

What is obesity?

Obesity is a term used to describe somebody who is very overweight, with a lot of body fat. Whilst we are generally preoccupied with the appearance of being overweight it is the hidden danger of accumulating, fatty deposits around our heart and abdominal organs that should concern us most. It can be a ticking timebomb leading to Type II Diabetes, Heart disease, some types of Cancer and Stroke.

What causes obesity?

Simply put, obesity is generally caused by consuming more calories than you burn off through physical activity. The main calorie culprits are fatty and sugary foods.The excess energy is then stored by the body as fat. Abdominal or 'belly fat' is considered to pose the highest risk to health. This 'visceral fat' in your middle makes toxins that affect the way your body works, among them are chemicals called cytokines that boost your chances of heart disease and make your body less sensitive to insulin, which can bring on diabetes. 

Obesity is an increasingly common problem, because many modern lifestyles often promote eating excessive amounts of cheap, high-calorie food and spending a lot of time sitting at desks, on sofas or in cars.

measuring obesity

BMI (Body Mass Index)

There are many ways in which a person's health in relation to their weight can be classified. but the most widely used method is body mass index (BMI). BMI is a measure of whether you're a healthy weight for your height. Whilst it isn't used definitively to diagnose obesity it gives some indication of whether you might be overweight. Try this BMI healthy weight calculator to calculate your score.

For most adults:

• A BMI of 25 to 29.9 means you are considered overweight

• A BMI of 30 to 39.9 means you are considered obese

• A BMI of 40 or above means you are considered severely obese

Measuring your waistline

How can you tell if your belly fat is putting your health at risk? That part is easy. No special blood tests or scans are required. All you need is a tape measure. The size of your waist says it all.

The higher the number, the greater the danger your tummy poses to your health.

For women, a waist measurement of 32 inches or for men, a waist measurement of 37 inches or more means you are more likely to develop obesity-related health problems.

If you have to move to a larger waist size, even if your weight is considered normal for your height, or even if you haven’t noticed much weight gain, that’s an important sign it’s time to start eating better and exercising more.

(Read the full article on belly fat)

Tackling obesity

The best way to tackle obesity is to eat a healthy, reduced-calorie diet and to exercise regularly. Generally speaking, regular moderate exercise of 1 hour a day, such as walking, helps you lose more calories than you gain. You should also consider eating a balanced, calorie-controlled diet, join a local weight loss group, take up physical activities such as fast walking, jogging, swimming or tennis and eat slowly and avoid situations where you know you could be tempted to overeat.


There is no "quick fix" for obesity. Avoid fad diets and accept that lifestyle changing habits over several years are needed. Weight loss programmes take time and commitment, but they work best when people are able to complete the programmes fully and are offered advice about maintaining the weight loss achieved.

Regularly monitoring your weight, setting realistic goals and involving your friends and family with your attempts to lose weight can also help.

Remember that even losing what seems like a small amount of weight (such as 3% or more of your original body weight), and maintaining this for life, can significantly reduce your risk of obesity-related complications like diabetes and heart disease.

There's an App for that!

Losing weight with the NHS weight loss plan

With more than three million downloads, "Losing weight – Getting started" has helped thousands of people with their weight loss goals. The 12-week plan combines calorie counting and exercise to help you lose weight safely and sustainably. 

The plan is delivered through 12 fun and motivating weight loss packs, which include a colourful food and activity log sheet.

You can also get advice and support from the very active online Weight Loss community.

Food for thought... Often our excess fat is considered in terms of how we appear to the outside world. Consider for a moment how that fatty build up may be narrowing arteries and effecting your cardiac function. It is the unseen and unknown that is often overlooked.


Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

Michael Pollan, author, educator and lifestyle evangelist .

"Eat food" means to eat real food: Try to choose a variety of different foods from these main food groups.

(Click on images for a closer look)

Plenty of bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods (30% of intake)

Plenty of fruit and vegetables (40%)

Some milk and dairy foods (15% of intake)

Some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein (10%)

Fats  (5%). Some fats are such as olive oil are considered to be good for a healthy heart.

Getting the correct proportions of food groups

What proportions of food groups we should consume during the day is continually under review. The 'eatwell plate' devised by the Food Standards Agency in the mid 1990's represents the proportions of food we should be aiming to eat each day. However a great deal of evidence has accumuated since then making it look ready to be revised.

In particular it would seem we should be eating more fruit and vegetables than previously thought (7 portions rather than 5), slightly less meat, reducing sugary foods to an occasional treat and cautiously... there is less emphasis on reducing saturated fats.

Advice is always changing but for the moment here is the latest food plate to show the proportion of food groups you should be eating on a daily basis. To make sense of it you would be advised to read the full article here.

What is the correct portion size?

We often over-estimate what our portion sizes should be and underestimate the number of calories in our meals. This 'portion distortion' is not helped by the tendency to use large plates at the dinner table and impracticlality of weighing and measuring the correct food amounts.

Thankfully help is at hand. Literally. Use your hand sizes to give you an indicator of what is the correct portion size for each food group.

A bit about calories

Calorie intake will depend on what you eat and how much you have. Calories are a measure of the amount of energy stored in food and drink.

The recommended number of calories per day are 2500Kcal for a man and 2000Kcal for a woman though these values can vary depending on age, metabolism and levels of physical activity, among other things.

Read the NHS page on understanding calories.

When it comes to a healthy diet, balance is the key to getting it right. This means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

Checking the label

When you’re food shopping, it’s a good idea to look at the label to help you make a healthier choice. Try comparing similar products and choose the ones with less fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt.

Sometimes there can be a big difference between similar products. Many foods are now labelled with nutrition information. Front of pack nutrition labels contain information to help you make decisions, such as colour coding/ percentage of your Guideline Daily Amount. 

Where colour coded labels are used you can tell at a glance if they are high (red), medium (amber) or low (green) in fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt. For a healthier choice, try to pick products with more greens and ambers and fewer reds. To find out more see nhs.uk/foodlabels

Sugar...the silent killer

Most adults and children in the UK eat too much sugar.

Many foods and drinks that contain added sugars can be high in energy (calories) and often have few other nutrients. Eating these foods too often can mean you eat more calories than you need, which can lead to weight gain and obesity.

Being overweight can increase your risk of health conditions such as:

• Heart disease

• Type 2 diabetes

High sugar intake leads to tooth decay.

For a healthy, balanced diet, we should eat these types of foods occasionally, in small amounts. We should get the majority of our calories from natural starchy foods (potatoes, bread, cereals, rice and pasta and  fruits and vegetables.

If you don't consider yourself to have a sweet tooth and avoid sugary drinks, you may still be eating more sugar than you think. 

Many foods that we don't consider to be sweet contain a surprisingly large amount of sugar. 

 Always check food labels and swap reds labelled foods (High) for greens (Low).

Top tips to reduce sugar intake

For a healthy, balanced diet, cut down on foods and drinks containing added sugars.

These tips can help you to cut down:

• Instead of sugary fizzy drinks or sugary squash, go for water, lower fat milks, or sugar free, diet and no added sugar drinks. 

Remember that even unsweetened fruit juice is sugary, so limit the amount you have to no more than 150ml a day.

• If you prefer fizzy drinks, choose diet versions or try diluting fruit juice with sparkling water.

• Limit cakes or biscuits to a rare treat; they offer no nutritional benefit but are high calorie.

• If you take sugar in hot drinks or add sugar to your breakfast cereal, gradually reduce the amount until you can cut it out altogether.

• Rather than spreading jam, marmalade, syrup, treacle or honey on your toast, try a lower-fat spread, sliced banana or lower-fat cream cheese instead.

• Choose tins of fruit in juice rather than syrup.

 •Choose wholegrain breakfast cereals, but not those coated with sugar or honey.

Find more ways of cutting out sugar from your diet. Click here.

Learn more about Healthy Snaks. Click here.


You don't have to add salt to your food to eat too much of it – around 75% of the salt we eat is already in everyday foods such as bread, breakfast cereal and ready meals.

Remember, whether you're eating at home, cooking or eating out, don't add salt to your food automatically – taste it first. Many people add salt out of habit, but it's often unnecessary, and your food will taste good without it.

Shop for low-salt foods

When shopping for food, you can take steps to cut your salt intake:

• Compare nutrition labels on food packaging when buying everyday items. You can really cut your salt intake by checking the label and choosing the pizza, ketchup or breakfast cereal that's lower in salt. Try choosing one food a week to check and swap when you're food shopping.

• Go for reduced-salt, unsmoked back bacon. Cured meats and fish can be high in salt, so try to eat these less often.

• Buy tinned vegetables without added salt. Do the same with tinned pulses.

• Watch out for the salt content in ready-made pasta sauces. 

Tomato-based sauces are often lower in salt than cheesy sauces or those containing olives, bacon or ham.

• For healthier snacks, choose fruit or vegetables such as carrot or celery sticks. If you are going to have crisps or crackers, check the label and choose the ones lower in salt.

• Go easy on soy sauce, mustard, pickles, mayonnaise and other table sauces, as these can all be high in salt.

Many of us in the UK eat too much salt. Too much salt can raise your blood pressure, which puts you at increased risk of health problems such as heart disease and stroke. But a few simple steps can help you to cut your salt intake.

Top tips to reduce SALT intake

• Banish the salt cellar from the dinner table. Salt is already present in most everyday foods such as bread, breakfast cereal and ready meals.

• Compare nutrition labels on food packaging when buying everyday items. 

Salt levels can be high in certain foods such as pizza, ketchup or breakfast cereal. Try choosing one food a week to check and swap when you're food shopping.

• Avoid processed meats and ready made dinners. They tend to be high in fat and salt.

• Buy tinned vegetables without added salt. Do the same with tinned pulses.

• Watch out for the salt content in ready-made pasta sauces. 

Tomato-based sauces are often lower in salt than cheesy sauces or those containing olives, bacon or ham.

• If you are going to have crisps or crackers, choose smaller packets, check the label and choose the ones lower in salt.

• Go easy on soy sauce, mustard, pickles, mayonnaise and other table sauces, as these can all be high in salt.

There's an App for that !

in fact there are loads but we particularly like


When it comes to tracking your diet and exercise, MyFitnessPal is one of the biggest names around. With a database of more than two million food items, the platform makes it easy for users to keep track of calories and so much more. MyFitnessPal can be used with all diets, whether you're going low carb, high protein, or just trying to eat healthier.

Price: Free.

Available on iTunesGoogle Play, , Windows Phone.

Change4Life healthier recipes

The Change4Life healthier recipes app is a great free way of helping everybody eat tasty healthier meals. Use it to search more than 100 easy calorie-counted recipes for breakfast, lunch, evening meals, puddings and snacks, keep track with the handy shopping list, which organises the ingredients you need by supermarket aisle, and learn more about being food smart and making healthier choices.

Price: Free.

Available on the NHS health apps library.

Calorie checker

Use the NHS Choices calorie checker to look up the calories of more than 150,000 different foods and drinks quickly and simply. The calorie checker's database lists the calorie and fat content of: 

• Generic foods.

• Branded products.

• Meals from around the world.

• Alcoholic drinks.

• Restaurant meals, including fast food chains.

For quick access to the calorie checker on the go, save the page to your mobile device's home screen, and use it just like an app.

Price: Free.

Available on NHS Choices.

5 A DAY meal planner

Need to include more fruit and vegetables in your diet? The 5 A DAY meal planner is just what you and your family need. Create a weekly 5 A DAY meal planner and shopping list in five simple steps. It makes healthy eating simple, with ideas for meals, tasty recipes, cheaper options and top tips.

Price: Free.

Available on NHS Choices.


A fitness app inspired by the video game world, Fitocracy makes exercise fun. Use the app to track your workouts, earn points, unlock achievements, beat quests, and slay the laziness dragon in you. When you join Fitocracy, you join a Facebook-style social network of supportive "Fitocrats" who will keep you motivated on your journey with daily inspiration and advice.

Price: Free

Available on iTunes

Change4Life Sugar Swaps

The Change4Life Sugar Swaps app is designed to show quickly and easily how much sugar is in the food and drink you’re having. Just scan the barcode and see how much sugar it contains.

• See how much sugar is in a product.

• Keep track of the last 10 products you’ve scanned.

• Share the amount of sugar in things via Facebook.

Price: Free.

Available on iTunes, Google Play.

Pollan's 7 Rules for Eating

1. Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. "When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can't pronounce, ask yourself, "What are those things doing there?" Pollan says.

2. Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce.

3. Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.

4. Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot. "There are exceptions -- honey -- but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren't food," Pollan says.

5. It is not just what you eat but how you eat. "Always leave the table a little hungry," Pollan says. "Many cultures have rules that you stop eating before you are full. In Japan, they say eat until you are four-fifths full. Islamic culture has a similar rule, and in German culture they say, 'Tie off the sack before it's full.'"

6. Families traditionally ate together, around a table and not a TV, at regular meal times. It's a good tradition. Enjoy meals with the people you love. "Remember when eating between meals felt wrong?" Pollan asks.

7. Don't buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.

Takeaway food... picking the healthy options!

When it comes to eating takeaways there are few healthy options. Often they are high in fat, salt and calories...but there are ways to limit the damage of the occasional treat. Click here for top tips on what to choose and what to avoid.

Got time? Dr. Mike gives you the low down on healthier eating:

Got time? Dr Mike wants you to consider the best drink for you:


Quit smoking.

Smoking is bad for you..really bad. Smoking greatly increases the risk of getting lung cancer, heart attack, chronic lung disease, stroke, and many other cancers.

 It causes high blood pressure, diabetes, circulation problems and angina. Smokers die an average of 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death. We suspect you know that.

It has a detrimental effect on fertility, sexual performance, it ages the skin, stains your teeth and reduces your energy levels... We suspect you know much of that too.

If you are one of the 70% of smokers that wants to give up then great... help is at hand. So do it now:

Step 1

Enroll at your local Stop Smoking Service.


Step 2

Join the crowd and sign up to online support for a free quit kit.


Step 3

Be part of the Smoke free community and and introduce yourself on the Smokefree Facebook page

Step 4

All enrolled?... Excellent!  You will be surprised how helpful your GP can be. Advice aside they can help provide the tools to cope..gum, nicotine patches and medications. Make an appointment with your GP today and see how they can help.

Step 5

Think about the benefits to yourself and your family. Consider what the cost savings will be over time and how that money could be spent on more exciting things 

Cost Calculator

Got time? Dr. Mike understands you and wants to help.


Vaping can be defined as the act of inhaling water vapor through a personal vaporizer (the vaper’s tobacco-free version of the traditional cigarette). It is an increasingly popular alternative to smoking and an aid in smoking cessation. Whilst there have been no long term studies a recent study by the NHS suggested that E-Cigarettes are significantly (95%) less harmful than smoking'

E-cigarettes '95% less harmful than smoking' says report

"E-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than tobacco and could be prescribed on the NHS in future to help smokers quit," BBC News reports. (Read More)

There's an App for that

Smoke Free

Smoke Free is a quit smoking app with a difference. You'll get all the usual things you want from a quit smoking app, but with the added bonus of the option of sharing information about your cravings and how bad they were with scientists researching ways of helping people quit smoking.

Price: Free

Available on iTunes and Google Play


Reducing your intake.

Health effects of alcohol

Most people have experienced the after effects of short term alcohol consumption... the hangover and the poor nights sleep. However, it's the longer term health effects of alcohol that people often only experience once it's too late. Regularly drinking more than the NHS recommends can have a noticeable impact on your waistline as well as cause less obvious but more serious health problems.

Alcoholic drinks such as beer and wine have a high hidden calorie count. A  pint of beer for example contains the same number of calories as a packet of crisps. Too much alcohol consumption can result in a build up of abdominal fat that is related to cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. It can cause liver disease, stroke and breast cancer. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down the brain and the central nervous system's processes.

Over time, heavy drinking interferes with the neurotransmitters in the brain that are needed for good mental health. So while alcohol may help deal with stress in the short term, in the long run it can contribute to feeling depressed and anxious and make stress harder to deal with. People who drink heavily are more likely to suffer from mental health problems.


Keeping within recommended guidelines is key such as 3-4 units maximum a day for a man (1 pint of beer) or a 2-3 units maximum a day for a woman (standard glass of wine).  (Read more at Change4life)

Top tips

• Alternate an alcoholic drink with a glass of water – this will help to prevent you becoming dehydrated.

• Don’t drink on an empty stomach. If you do reach for snacks while drinking, opt for a healthier option – choose a sandwich instead of crisps or chips, or choose a chicken burger without mayonnaise instead of a kebab with garlic sauce.

• Drinking in rounds can mean you end up drinking more than you intended. Opt out and drink at your own pace.

• Try cutting down with a friend, as you’ll be more likely to stick to it with moral support.

• Eat a healthier dinner before you start drinking. Order or cook before you start drinking so you’re not tempted to go for the less healthy options.

• Pace yourself by taking small sips.

• Avoid "binge drinking" – some people are under the misapprehension that they can "save up" their units to splurge at the weekend.

• If you’re drinking white wine, why not add a splash of soda water to help the same number of units last longer?

Are you drinking too much? Take Drinkaware's quick self assessment tool. 


If you are drinking too much… get some advice and tips to reducing your alcohol consumption? Become healthier and wealthier by signing up to the Change 4 life Booze buster.


There's an App for that

Alcohol unit calculator

Use the alcohol unit calculator to find out how many units there are in a single drink or in a number of drinks. If you're on the move, you can also text Units to 64746 to access the NHS units calculator on any smartphone.

Price: Free

Available on NHS Choices

Change4Life drinks tracker

The Change4Life app helps you keep track of your drinking – showing you when you're putting your health at risk and giving you tips to help you cut down.

Price: Free

Available on iTunes

Got time? Dr. Mike wants you to consider your relationship with alcohol.

A healthY

MIND... and body

“It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor”

Cicero, roman philosopher, statesman and lawyer.

What activity can maintain a healthy mind?

Our mood state, our mental wellbeing, our happiness ...is dependant on our ability to cope with the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Most people conclude that their lives are increasingly stressful and hectic and we need to be mentally resilient as well as physically fit to maintain a healthy and contented existence. Whilst everyone's lives are uniquely different there is one common resource that we can all use to combat negative thoughts and feelings... EXERCISE.

The benefits of exercise

1. A positive mood

How we feel about life modulates how we cope with its challenges. And even how we modulate pain. Keeping physically active especially with high levels of regular exertion can be a real tonic in enhancing positive emotions such as interest, excitement, enthusiasm and alertness. The greatest impact of exercise is often seen in those with lower energy levels and more negative feelings at the start of the exercise program. 

Choose your own level of intensity and go for it!

2. Stress

Stress causes the body to build up chemicals which prepare it for a primitive 'fight or flight' emergency which in turn causes raised blood pressure, increased heart rate  and perspiration. It also compromises the efficiency of our immune system. 

Unfortunately these mechanisms are unhelpful to the individual stuck in traffic, a busy office or a crowded train who cannot fight or run away. Over time these chemicals and the changes they produce cause serious damage to our health increasing our risk of  heart attacks and stroke. Physical activity can reduce stress by acting as a relief valve (known as 'stress-buffering').  Evidence suggests that highly active individuals tend to have lower stress compared to their less active counterparts.  Exercise acts as a distractor from stress and helps improve your mood. It also makes you more inclined to follow healthier behaviours such as giving up smoking and better eating habits.

Click here to learn how to cope with stress more thoughtfully.

3. Self esteem

How we feel about ourselves effects our satisaction in life, our resiliance and our general outlook. It also impacts on our relationship with others. Physical self esteem in other words our stamina, strength, sporting ability and body attractiveness is part of how we feel about ourselves. Improving this can have a strong, positive influence on our overall self esteem. Getting fitter is therefore important and studies show that this improvement is most apparent in those whose self esteem is lowest at the beginning of an exercise program. Try and pick something moderately demanding (how about the Couch to 5K app in the exercise chapter !) and try and keep it up for at least 12 weeks and pick something you enjoy doing. Try and set measurable, realistic goals so that you can look back on your experience and wallow in your success!

4. Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and Depression varies from mild to severe and is experienced by 10% of us in any one year. Mental health problems can be improved through exercise either on its own or in combination with anti-depressants and/or the talking therapies (e.g. cognitive behaviour therapy).

Studies show that following the Department of Health's recommendation of 50 minutes a week of 'moderate intensity activity' or 75 minutes a week of 'vigorous intensity activity' can be effective in combatting mental health problems ; even in those who have not responded in the past to anti-depressants. All types of aerobic exercises are useful. Choose what you are most comfortable with... 

groups or exercising alone... indoors or outdoors.

Bear in mind there may be more health benefits in participating outside in the fresh air especially if sunshine is permitting (provided you are in a clean air environment of course and you've taken all obvious precautions about exercising in the sunshine...keeping hydrated, wearing sun cream, sun hat... etc.)

5. Dementia and Cognitive Decline

Alongside the increase in life expectancy has been a rise in those suffering from dementia and cognitive decline. The main symptom of dementia is memory loss, which becomes progressively worse over time.

Cognitive decline occurs in older people who do not develop demnetia but suffer with aspects of poor attention, concentration, memory and become slower and less efficient. Exercise appears to protect against the onset of these disorders and for sufferers can slow the rate of decline. Higher levels of activity along with greater frequency – three times or more a week seems to be most effective.

Exercise can also improve aspects of  physical function such as endurance, strength, balance, mobility, gait and flexibility.

6. Sleep

We all know how a bad night's sleep can effect our mood but it's thought that one third of us suffer with a lack of sleep or poor quality sleep leading to reduced energy and concentration levels.

This can impact on our relationships and work life. Studies show that exercise can improve sleep quality and therefore our wellbeing. Long term insomnia sufferers may be interested to know that 50 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity reduces pre-sleep anxiety and improves sleep quality. So try cycling, swimming or running early evening, finish with a hot bath and then straight to bed. Sweet dreams!

7. Increased feelings of control

Known as 'mastery experiences' , physical activity can lead to greater belief that one is able to influence his or her environment and bring about desired outcomes which in turn leads to greater wellbeing. For example completing an exercise session that was previously thought impossible such as a 5Km race for the first time may enhance feelings of confidence and self esteem with a knock on effect of greater confidence in everyday life.

8. Social interaction

Physical activity in groups presents an opportunity for social contact and interaction increasing the possibility of networks and friendships. It could be part of a team game such as volleyball, touch rugby or football), buddying up with a partner (salsa dancing, badminton or squash) or simply meeting others with a mutual interest such as dog walking or trekking.


The idea that there is always someone else worse off than yourself perhaps isn't the most generous way of feeling better about yourself – that said there is a reality that exists within this philosophy and you can make change, real change to another persons life. This rewards you with a great sense of purpose and accomplishment along with the opportunity to meet new people, gain new skills and make a big difference to your community. So whether it is helping out at a soup kitchen or having a cup of tea with a lonely pensioner go online, 

type in your postcode and find out how you can do something great today. https://do-it.org/opportunities/search

Feel like the one who needs the support and help? Speak to your GP about 'social prescription' and ask what resources are available in your community.

Want to do something more physical? How about helping out with the National trust for example https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Got time? Dr. Mike on Mindfulness... See how you can manage stressful situations more thoughtfully

The information and references contained in the Good Health Guide are intended solely for the information and education of the viewer. It is not to be used for treatment purposes, only to drive discussions between the patient and the healthcare provider. The information presented here is not intended to diagnose health problems or to replace professional medical care, nor should it be considered a substitute for seeing a health professional.

All content, including text, graphics, images and information contained in or available within the Good Health Guide is for information and education purposes only. The primary limitation with online resources is the inability to consider the unique circumstances of any given patient.

The Exercise Prescriber (the originator of the Good Health Guide) attempts to keep it's content up to date and check the accuracy of the third party links and information. However the Exercise Prescriber (or it's users) cannot be held liable for any health related consequences of its use.

If you have any further questions, please consult with your medical professional.