Health – Hard Talk, by Trevor Lunn

Trevor Lunn has been one of my best friends, mentors and inspiration for almost two decades. At 60+ he is healthier and fitter than most people half his age. He recently left his long-term publishing career to pursue his dream of getting a degree in Health Sciences. Now he is a full-time university student in Melbourne, majoring in exercise science, psychology and nutrition. He has agreed to share his knowledge and wisdom about health and fitness through this blog. Here’s the first one:

Welcome to Health – Hard Talk. Here will not be found “handy hints and tips” or the latest headlines about “health research” reported in the media, or the supposed quick fixes or mystical herbal or alternative remedies. Here there are no easy, comforting words intended to lull you into the belief that there is little that you can do to improve your own health status; that it’s all in your genes or your circumstances make it unavoidable.

What you will find is ideas and recommendations drawn from high quality scientific literature. They will not be my ideas. They will come mainly from epidemiological studies conducted by the World Health Organization and governments and from scientific research published in peer-reviewed, reputable journals. For now references will not be provided though they can always be requested.

This journey is intended to help you understand where you are with your health compared to the population, what risks you expose yourself to and, hopefully, how you can address these risks and move towards a healthier life. Join me and see where the journey takes you.

Here’s a starting and perhaps startling thought. The leading modifiable risk factor for all-cause mortality world-wide is cigarette smoking. The second is physical inactivity. Putting that into simple language, cigarette smoking kills more people than any other risky behavior and physical inactivity kills more than any of the rest.

If you are in the majority, you do not exercise enough. What’s enough? We’ll get into the detail of that later, but the quick answer is 30 minutes of moderately vigorous activity at least five days a week. Why don’t you do it? Here’s a useful exercise to try. It’s called a Decisional Balance by psychologists. Draw a simple table with two columns side by side. Head one “pros” and the other “cons” Now write down under the “pros” heading all the positive outcomes you think would result from exercising and in the “cons” column all the possible negative outcomes.

Post your answers and we’ll start our journey.