But with so much information out there, it can take hours of searching for helpful and reliable advice, especially when you have more than one health concern.
To help save you time surfing around trying to find sites dealing with different health issues, Bupa, the British private healthcare organisation, have developed an extensive range of free, easy to use online tools and apps which are all in one place.
Helping You Find Healthy
Each of these is designed to help you ‘find healthy’.
Types of Tools
There are some fun to use calculators like the ‘Cost of Smoking Calculator’, and the ‘Count your Calories tool’. These calculators ask a few questions and give an instant result.
Alternatively, you can choose an assessment, for example, the lung cancer risk assessment. These ask you to register first then, after a 10-minute process which includes filling in some health questions, you’ll be given a personal report, together with recommendations for improving your health and lowering your risk. There are also free downloadable apps for iPhones, iPods and Android smart phones.
Of all the Bupa apps on the main page, it was the Health Age Calculator that got my attention first. As someone who pays a lot of attention to diet and general health, I was pretty confident I’d score well on this one. By scoring well, I mean ending up with a health age younger than my real age (which I’m not revealing here!).
Health Age Calculator Review
The swingometer starts off in the middle, (your actual age) and swings to the right (older) or left (younger) depending on your answers. Several of the answers involve using a slider or plus and minus buttons.
Step 1: Personal information. Just four questions here: gender, age, whether you are married or have a life partner and the region you live in. Entering my gender and age had no effect on the swingometer, but clicking ‘yes’ to married/life partner, sent the arrow towards younger. I imagine this is due to some studies showing a link between marriage and the positive effect it can have on health (or was that men’s health?). The region I live in didn’t have any effect on the swingometer.
Step 2: Medical history. Two questions. Whether or not I have diabetes and whether I ‘smoke’, ‘used to smoke’ or ‘never smoked’. Clicking ‘no’ to diabetes sent the swingometer further left, but thanks to my previous 20 a day habit (many years ago), clicking on ‘used to smoke’ sent the arrow skittering back in the opposite direction and past my actual age. However, I had a chance of reclaiming some years by the next questions which were ‘how many years ago I stopped’ and how many I smoked per day.
Step 3: Height/Weight. This step involves entering your height and weight and the number of times you exercise per week. This revealed a normal BMI but my dismal two times a week exercise sent my age on the rise again.
Step 4: Alcohol/Diet. The alcohol section asks how many days a week you drink, and how many drinks you have on a typical day.
Alcohol. Now this was interesting and slightly confusing. I don’t drink, or very rarely drink. On entering zero days for drinking, the swingometer added some years to my age. Conversely, any number from 1-3 swung the arrow to the left (younger). As might be expected, entering 4-7 drinks progressively swings the arrow back to the right.
The Diet section simply asks you to rate your diet over an average week on a scale from Very Poor to Very Good. Moving the slider right up to ‘very good’ moved my age a bit younger once more.
Watching the swingometer is quite addictive, but at the same time it can help you see where you need to make improvements. However, going by the swingometer, it appears that I’d have a younger age by drinking four days a week rather than zero days.
I know there have been studies showing that drinking moderately can be good for your health but my zero alcoholic drinks a week puts me on a par with a five units a day drinker which doesn’t seem quite fair.
That’s it for questions. Your final health age is displayed after the next click. Incidentally, as the swingometer moves around, your age is displayed as a question mark so you won’t find out your results until the end.
Disappointingly, my results revealed my heath age to be exactly my own age. But, by following some of the recommendations given, I could hope to lower this age by 10 years.
Together with the result, you are given some personal recommendations. Mine were:
1. Stop smoking. Surely this is a bug? Despite answering that I’d stopped smoking some 18 years earlier, I’m still advised to give up my nasty habit. Apart from travelling back in time, I'm not sure what else I can do. There is, however some very helpful and encouraging information on giving up the weed.
I’m also advised to exercise five times a week. My miserly two exercise sessions per week weren’t enough to shed a few years. Bupa recommend I set a target of 30 minutes a day, five times a week. They also tell me why and how my health can benefit from physical activity. And for those who hate the idea of exercise, there is a handy list of different ways to exercise while fitting into your daily routine.
By taking heed of the recommendations given by Bupa and fiddling around with my answers, I soon found out what I must do in order reach my lowest health age.
Other Apps I Tried Out
Cost of Smoking calculator
app calculates, for various time spans, the phenomenal amounts of money you could save by quitting.
For example, giving up a 20 a day habit could save you £25,550 over a 10-year period. You’re also provided with the health benefits of stopping smoking over these different time spans.