Our panel of ex­perts an­swers your ques­tions on ev­ery­thing from walk­ing your way to fit­ness to cut­ting down the calo­ries on Christ­mas Day

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Advice -

much would I need towalk a week to achieve a ba­sic level of fit­ness?

TONY GAL­LAGHER WRITES: French study looked at more than 3,000 men and women aged over 65 and fol­lowed them for an av­er­age of five years. It was found that par­tic­i­pants with faster walk­ing speeds had about a three­fold de­creased risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar mor­tal­ity com­pared with par­tic­i­pants who walked slower. This as­so­ci­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to the NHS, re­in­forces the mes­sage that phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and walk­ing have ma­jor life­time ben­e­fits. If you can man­age four to five times a week you will de­rive good ben­e­fits. Warm up by start­ing at a leisurely pace and then in­crease the speed. Stretch out your leg mus­cles af­ter­wards and be­fore your next walk. Aim for 30 min­utes min­i­mum at a brisk pace. You should be looking to be a bit out of breath and sweaty. To help lose weight con­sider be­tween 45 to 60 min­utes. If your cur­rent level of fit­ness stops you walk­ing for 30 con­sec­u­tive min­utes you can start by break­ing it down into 10-minute in­ter­vals. Add va­ri­ety by try­ing the fol­low­ing: in­clude hills in your route or take in new routes com­pletely; try wear­ing a pe­dome­ter as it is a way of mea­sur­ing your progress; al­ter­nate walk­ing speeds from slow to fast to slow; con­sider us­ing small hand weights for an ex­tra chal­lenge. Don’t for­get to wear a de­cent pair of comfortable shoes with ap­pro­pri­ate heel and arch sup­ports. Fi­nally, you can add a so­cial el­e­ment by join­ing a lo­cal walk­ing group.

el­derly neigh­bour had a bad fall, break­ing her hip. It has made me con­cerned about the risks for my own mother, who is 65. Is there any­thing that can be done to re­duce the risk?

DR DAN RUTHER­FORD WRITES: The ba­sic check­points are to look for any prob­lems with gait, bal­ance, mo­bil­ity and mus­cle power (this should in­clude a re­view of any med­i­ca­tion that might con­trib­ute to falls), bone strength (os­teo­poro­sis risk),

Aeye­sight and as­sess­ment of home haz­ards. Peo­ple who have had a fall are more likely to have an­other and the best re­sults come from mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary as­sess­ment and ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ment plans. Your mother’s GP can ad­vise on some of th­ese fac­tors but oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pists (OTs) are able to give good ad­vice on mak­ing the home as safe as pos­si­ble. Many ar­eas run falls preven­tion ser­vices – check with the OT but also with char­i­ties such as Age UK (www.ageuk.org).

you rec­om­mend some ways to make the tra­di­tional Christ­mas lunch a bit health­ier?

SARA STAN­NER WRITES: is about hav­ing fun and en­joy­ing time with fam­ily and friends, but on av­er­age we con­sume around 7,000 calo­ries on Christ­mas Day alone. Overindulging can cause weight gain as well as di­ges­tive prob­lems. There are easy ways to re­duce the calo­ries, without los­ing any of the en­joy­ment. Eat­ing a healthy break­fast will stop you from reach­ing for the cho­co­lates dur­ing the morn­ing. Start the meal with a healthy starter such as a veg­etable soup, as this will help fill you up without lots of calo­ries. Turkey is low in fat if you re­move the skin be­fore eat­ing (this will save around 50 kcals per por­tion). Be­fore cook­ing, prick the skin to al­low the fat to run out and use a metal rack or trivet when you are roast­ing it to al­low the fat to drain off. Steam­ing or mi­crowav­ing veg­eta­bles will help them re­tain their nu­tri­ent con­tent. Flavour them with

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