feelgood factor: Jools Holland

Reading obituaries is my main health tip. I read them every day. First, I know I must be quite healthy if I'm not included and, second, I try to glean information from the lifestyles of those being written about. When there is a write-up of someone in their seventies or eighties, I often find they have been a painter or a conductor. Both professions require having the arms in the air quite a bit, so I like to keep my arms in the air as much as possible.

Reading about other people's health, it becomes obvious pretty quickly that stress is one of the biggest threats. So I try not to worry when reading the obituaries.

To reduce my own stress, I play the piano for about an hour when I get up in the morning - that helps me to exercise my fingers - and, of course, keep my arms in the air. It's terribly uplifting. That's my form of meditation, so to speak. I might start off with a scale or two, then I whip into some fast boogie-woogie, which is lovely, and then it starts to take over and move into its own world. It's a bit like flying, when you're improvising. Marvellous.

Then I'm ready for my walk around Greenwich park. I only do vigorous walking, not some form of leisurely stroll. I suddenly spurt off in one direction. I don't stop to talk to anybody. I went to a gym for a while and they had walking machines, but you can't enjoy views of London or whatever. Then, when I get home, I'm ready to read the obituaries.

I pick up lots of other little tips. I remember one chap who had started smoking cigars, as a tiny bit of nicotine can help to prevent senile dementia. So I have taken that up. Somebody else swore by drinking red wine with dinner, so I took that up, too.

NW

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