Regular readers will know I went for a health check up a few weeks ago and I was pleased that all my results are all broadly okay, although the Doctor thinks my blood pressure could be a little lower. My cholesterol score was “five” and acceptable to my Doctor even though it was suggested about being lower. I wasn’t too worried about that as the blood samples were taken in January after some rich living over Christmas. Here I want to mention something about maintaining a good cardiovascular system and at this point to remind you all I’m not a Doctor and therefore don’t read my blog as authoritative medical advice — I don’t want you complaining of a heart attack because of my blog!
With my Coast to Coast ride coming up and much training to be done I have been thinking about my current performance and what my strengths and weaknesses are. My strength (I think) is having a good cardiovascular system. I find I can talk easier than others when cycling or running up hills. I put a lot of this down to running, especially hill running which I have come to enjoy so much over the last few years: sometimes I would run up a hill as fast as I could and get to the top panting and out of breath. Then I’d jog back down and do it all over again! That is ‘interval training’ and has much support and benefits if done wisely. This running and interval training has put me into a fairly good position.
While I was at the Doctors reference was made to some assessment indicator and I was told my risk of having a heart attack or a stroke in the next ten years was very low. That’s good to know. Naturally I could risk having a quick look around on the internet and seeing what they were referring to and it’s not difficult to find on-line tools to check yourself out – such as this. Why not try it out yourself?
What else helps, apart from interval running?
We all know the basics of keeping a good heart – quitting smoking, maintaining a good weight / BMI, getting some exercise and eating well. I want to mention something about food here and in particular about making the effort to get in those extra little nutrients which I think can all have an accumulative effect. One of these is Linseed, aka Flaxseed.
This morning I needed to grind some more Linseed. This is one little thing I can easily do to stay in good shape, albeit a fairly small ~ but important ~ building block. This brings a supply of Omega 3 and 6 each day which is said to help lower cholesterol and help protect the cardiovascular system. It is a nice feeling to go through this ritual often but it is a simple thing to do. We buy whole seeds, either brown or golden as both are good and then whizz it through our coffee bean grinder – it seems to do a good job. A coffee grinder, I should say, is a really good gizmo to have in the kitchen as it can be used for all kinds of things (ours is so old and battered it is actually held together with sticky tape).
Flaxseeds are just one food that helps. Others that are brilliantly helpful include the following:
- Other good fats. These could include nuts, especially Brazil nuts, oily fish containing Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Pumpkin seeds I have regularly and include this in my diet.
- Colourful fruit and make sure it is a wide variety. Oranges, pineapple, melon, berries, mango, peaches etc.
- Carbohydrates which are wholegrain and include muesli, pasta etc.
I see all this as an important part of maintaining a healthy life. Cycling is part of that, running too, and it’s important I keep these in the right order. Although I love cycling and running, I have to remind myself these are all “means to an end”. The “end” being able to remain healthy for as long as I can.
Now then. I’ve already had breakfast but now I feel hungry again!