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Planning Retirement Online

    Medicine Balls    

    February 2008   


Medicine Balls: Consultations with the World's Greatest TV Doctor

Comedian and best-selling author, Dr Phil Hammond is a doctor who never gets ill.
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, Officer.


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 excuse anyway.


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 war. 


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 chutney.

Give blood

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)



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