best-selling author, Dr Phil Hammond is a doctor who never gets
Here he discloses how he does it.
We’re all stuck in a rut. The trick is to make your rut as
comfortable as possible. I don’t diet or weigh myself – a sure
route to misery – but if the tops of my legs start rubbing
together I walk and cycle more. I eat loads of fruit and veg,
fish when I remember and try to buy local. But I eat and enjoy
just about anything, usually far too quickly. Especially
nuts. Instant gratification.
We’ve known for years that moderate drinkers live longer, on
average, than both teetotallers and heavy drinkers. Alcohol
reduces your risk of heart disease and since this is our biggest
killer and gets more common as we get older, there is an
overwhelming case for moderate drinking from mid-life onwards,
A great study found that men who have a hundred orgasms a year
reduce their risk of death by 30 per cent. According to the
research the more sex a man says he has per week, the less
likely he is to die. The high sex group had half the risk of
dying compared to the low sex group. Don’t use this for
emotional blackmail. You may not get the answer you want.
For women, it’s quality rather than quantity. One study found
that sexual dissatisfaction was a risk factor for women having
heart attacks. But maybe we just need to lower expectations
here. A real orgasm uses only 96 calories but a fake one
62,856. All that huffing and puffing can be a really good
aerobic workout. So even bad sex can be bad for you. That’s my
An orgasm is the equivalent in terms of exercise of going for a
leisurely stroll but do we need get more physical than that? Yes
but it doesn’t have to be torture. All you have to do is walk up
a hill once a day until you get a bit puffed and sweaty. One
large study found that men who walked two miles a day had about
half the chance of dropping dead over a ten year period compared
to another group of couch potatoes. There is no form of medical
intervention or pill that gets close to having such a big impact
on our health as walking.
Walking is even more fun with a dog. If we could prescribe dogs
on the NHS, it could save it overnight. A dog gives you
unconditional love, reduces your cholesterol and blood pressure,
improves your mood, gets you out walking and talking to other
dog lovers and keeps you supple as you stoop to scoop the poop.
After a brisk dog walk, I’m partial to a nap. Without enough
sleep, you’re more prone to infections and (perhaps even
cancer bit slight…throw away…. You can torture prisoners to
death just by sleep deprivation. The damage kicks in after just
one night of poor sleep but is far more of a problem in the
long-term. The metabolic and hormone changes of chronic sleep
loss mimic those of ageing and increase the risk of diabetes,
high blood pressure, obesity and memory loss. The good news is
that it doesn’t matter when you get your kip. Lie-ins, catnaps
and siestas are all excellent ideas unless you’re driving or at
Enjoyment is a personal thing but the concept spans every
culture in every time zone. Alcohol, sex, stories, chocolate,
pets, music, dancing, laughter, caffeine, sunshine, driving too
fast and perfume are ubiquitous. There is a basic human need for
risk and enjoyment. Control it but don’t deny it.
Passion is as important as pleasure. Often you can combine the
two. Gardening and The Archers. Sex and Countdown. Antiques and
Blood donors live longer either because it thins the blood or
because the type of people who become donors are more sorted. Or
maybe they get their anaemia picked up earlier.
People who laugh a lot seem to get fewer coughs and colds and
they may even get less heart disease and cancer. When the going
gets tough, remember the three Ps: pace yourself, pamper
yourself and piss yourself laughing.
This is an extract from Medicine Balls by Dr Phil Hammond
(Black & White Publishing)