Aged 52, Craig Cooper is dynamic. A marathon runner, businessman and author who seems to glow with good health, he leads a life that could make the most confident person feel inadequate.
But Cooper isn’t interested in shaming others into adopting a healthier lifestyle by painting over his own insecurities. He’s happy to admit that he feels stress, and encourages people to live their lives to the fullest, no matter their age.
His long career has seen him work as a chef, lawyer, developer, businessman, and most recently the author of the book Your New Prime: 30 Days to Better Sex, Eternal Strength, and a Kick-Ass Life After 40.
He spends his time surfing and fitness training, meditating, and maintaining a healthy diet - but swears by coffee and doesn’t deprive himself.
“Life is short and many of us enjoy a drink now and then,” he told The Times recently.
As many of us take stock of our lives around new year, here are his top tips for changing your lifestyle for the better.
Tackle your stress
"Like everyone, I struggle with stress every day. The important thing is how you react to stress. Daily stress is a constant and a natural part of a modern life. What becomes a problem is “chronic stress” – constant stress over a long period of time due to emotional or other pressures – and a feeling that you have no control.
"The best way I manage stress is through breath, meditation, and exercise. That doesn’t mean I get in a lotus pose every time I feel under pressure. I just focus on my breathing with deep inhales to a count of seven and long exhales for the same count.
"And there’s no better stress-reliever than going for a hard run on the beach or some intense boxing training."
Health news in pictures
Health news in pictures
1/19 Vaping backed as healthier nicotine alternative to cigarettes after latest study
Vaping has been given an emphatic thumbs up by health experts after the first long-term study of its effects in ex-smokers. After six months, people who switched from real to e-cigarettes had far fewer toxins and cancer-causing substances in their bodies than continual smokers, scientists found
2/19 Common method of cooking rice can leave traces of arsenic in food, scientists warn
Millions of people are putting themselves at risk by cooking their rice incorrectly, scientists have warned. Recent experiments show a common method of cooking rice — simply boiling it in a pan until the water has steamed out — can expose those who eat it to traces of the poison arsenic, which contaminates rice while it is growing as a result of industrial toxins and pesticides
3/19 Contraceptive gel that creates ‘reversible vasectomy’ shown to be effective in monkeys
An injectable contraceptive gel that acts as a ‘reversible vasectomy’ is a step closer to being offered to men following successful trials on monkeys. Vasalgel is injected into the vas deferens, the small duct between the testicles and the urethra. It has so far been found to prevent 100 per cent of conceptions
4/19 Shift work and heavy lifting may reduce women’s fertility, study finds
Women who work at night or do irregular shifts may experience a decline in fertility, a new study has found. Shift and night workers had fewer eggs capable of developing into healthy embryos than those who work regular daytime hours, according to researchers at Harvard University
5/19 Breakfast cereals targeted at children contain 'steadily high' sugar levels since 1992 despite producer claims
A major pressure group has issued a fresh warning about perilously high amounts of sugar in breakfast cereals, specifically those designed for children, and has said that levels have barely been cut at all in the last two and a half decades
6/19 Fight against pancreatic cancer takes ‘monumental leap forward’
Scientists have made a “monumental leap forward” in the treatment of pancreatic cancer after discovering using two drugs together dramatically improved patients’ chances of living more than five years after diagnosis.
7/19 Japanese government tells people to stop overworking
The Japanese government has announced measures to limit the amount of overtime employees can do – in an attempt to stop people literally working themselves to death. A fifth of Japan’s workforce are at risk of death by overwork, known as karoshi, as they work more than 80 hours of overtime each month, according to a government survey.
8/19 Over-cooked potatoes and burnt toast ‘could cause cancer’
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued a public warning over the risks of acrylamide - a chemical compound that forms in some foods when they are cooked at high temperatures (above 120C).
9/19 Cervical cancer screening attendance hits 19 year low
Cervical screening tests are a vital method of preventing cancer through the detection and treatment of abnormalities in the cervix, but new research shows that the number of women using this service has dropped to a 19 year low.
10/19 High blood pressure may protect over 80s from dementia
The ConversationIt is well known that high blood pressure is a risk factor for dementia, so the results of a new study from the University of California, Irvine, are quite surprising. The researchers found that people who developed high blood pressure between the ages of 80-89 are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease (the most common form of dementia) over the next three years than people of the same age with normal blood pressure.
11/19 Most child antidepressants are ineffective and can lead to suicidal thoughts
The majority of antidepressants are ineffective and may be unsafe, for children and teenager with major depression, experts have warned. In what is the most comprehensive comparison of 14 commonly prescribed antidepressant drugs to date, researchers found that only one brand was more effective at relieving symptoms of depression than a placebo. Another popular drug, venlafaxine, was shown increase the risk users engaging in suicidal thoughts and attempts at suicide
12/19 'Universal cancer vaccine’ breakthrough claimed by experts
Scientists have taken a “very positive step” towards creating a universal vaccine against cancer that makes the body’s immune system attack tumours as if they were a virus, experts have said. Writing in Nature, an international team of researchers described how they had taken pieces of cancer’s genetic RNA code, put them into tiny nanoparticles of fat and then injected the mixture into the bloodstreams of three patients in the advanced stages of the disease. The patients' immune systems responded by producing "killer" T-cells designed to attack cancer. The vaccine was also found to be effective in fighting “aggressively growing” tumours in mice, according to researchers, who were led by Professor Ugur Sahin from Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany
13/19 Green tea could be used to treat brain issues caused by Down’s Syndrome
A compound found in green tea could improve the cognitive abilities of those with Down’s syndrome, a team of scientists has discovered. Researchers found epigallocatechin gallate – which is especially present in green tea but can also be found in white and black teas – combined with cognitive stimulation, improved visual memory and led to more adaptive behaviour. Dr Rafael de la Torre, who led the year-long clinical trial along with Dr Mara Dierrssen, said: “The results suggest that individuals who received treatment with the green tea compound, together with the cognitive stimulation protocol, had better scores in their cognitive capacities”
14/19 Taking antidepressants in pregnancy ‘could double the risk of autism in toddlers’
Taking antidepressants during pregnancy could almost double the risk of a child being diagnosed with autism in the first years of life, a major study of nearly 150,000 pregnancies has suggested. Researchers have found a link between women in the later stages of pregnancy who were prescribed one of the most common types of antidepressant drugs, and autism diagnosed in children under seven years of age
15/19 Warning over Calpol
Parents have been warned that giving children paracetamol-based medicines such as Calpol and Disprol too often could lead to serious health issues later in life. Leading paediatrician and professor of general paediatrics at University College London, Alastair Sutcliffe, said parents were overusing paracetamol to treat mild fevers. As a result, the risk of developing asthma, as well as kidney, heart and liver damage is heightened
16/19 Connections between brain cells destroyed in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease
Scientists have pinpointed how connections in the brain are destroyed in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, in a study which it is hoped will help in the development of treatments for the debilitating condition. At the early stages of the development of Alzheimer’s disease the synapses – which connect the neurons in the brain – are destroyed, according to researchers at the University of New South Wales, Australia. The synapses are vital for brain function, particularly learning and forming memories
17/19 A prosthetic hand that lets people actually feel through
The technology lets paralysed people feel actual sensations when touching objects — including light taps on the mechanical finger — and could be a huge breakthrough for prosthetics, according to its makers. The tool was used to let a 28-year-old man who has been paralysed for more than a decade. While prosthetics have previously been able to be controlled directly from the brain, it is the first time that signals have been successfully sent the other way
18/19 Aspirin could help boost therapies that fight cancer
The latest therapies that fight cancer could work better when combined with aspirin, research has suggested. Scientists from the Francis Crick Institute in London say the anti-inflammatory pain killer suppresses a cancer molecule that allows tumours to evade the body’s immune defences. Laboratory tests have shown that skin, breast and bowel cancer cells often generate large amounts of this molecule, called prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). But Aspirin is one of a family of drugs that sends messages to the brain to block production of PGE2 and this means cancer cells can be attacked by the body’s natural defences
19/19 Potatoes reduce risk of stomach cancer
Scientists have found people who eat large amounts of white vegetables were a third less likely to contract stomach cancer. The study, undertaken by Chinese scientists at Zhejiang University, found eating cauliflower, potatoes and onions reduces the chance of contracting stomach cancer but that beer, spirits, salt and preserved foods increased a person’s risk of the cancer
Change your perception of life after 40
"I’m not saying my life started at 40. What I am saying is that your '40s and beyond are an opportunity to thrive forward in life, and not a time to slip into complacency.
"Rather than a period of traditional “crisis”, I want to re-frame “mid-life” as a period of opportunity and renewed passion."
Focus on what makes you truly happy
"Routine is a part of it but it’s not the complete picture. No matter who you are it’s part of modern culture to just want “more”. More money, more sex, more holidays, more respect, more of everything! And social media drives a lot of this pressure.
"We’re losing control of what matters most and focusing too much on other people’s lives, rather than what really drives true happiness – which is most often the simple things in life."
Improving your health isn't complicated - and just moving more is the first step
"The most important thing is to take control of your own health - and be proactive in your own wellness plan - as there is so much confusing information out there.
"I grew up in New Zealand and Australia. We walked to school across country paddocks. We rode our push-bikes all weekend. We surfed, skateboarded, went skiing, and played rugby. I don’t remember ever not being active.
"I now live in Los Angeles where people drive their cars to go visit their neighbors. It’s crazy! We don’t move enough! We sit all day and wonder why we have back pain and degenerative diseases. We need to stand more, sit less – and move as much as possible.
"You don’t have to do much to get the benefits of exercise. In fact, studies have shown that in those countries with the highest levels of centenarians just small amounts of constant daily movement are all that is required to get the health benefits.
"And don’t think that you have to start running marathons or doing triathlons to be healthy. You just need to move more. Walk to the shops rather than driving. Take the stairs rather than the escalator. Small daily movement patterns all add up."
Don’t be obsessed – just make mainly healthy choices
"I’m not obsessive. I’m just committed to a better life. I have "cheat days", and I love chocolate and ice cream. I’m not going to deny myself pleasures. Life is too short.
"But 80 per cent of the time I live in a state of health consciousness – where all my thoughts, food, movements, and emotions are driven by whether they are fueling a state of better health or not.
"You don’t want to be that guy who weighs his food and carries around perfectly calorie-calculated meals in Tupperware containers. That guy is no fun."
Don’t be scared of ageing, be scared of becoming "old"
Age doesn’t scare me but "growing old" does. My objective is to be the healthiest and most active I can possibly be for my age – whatever that might be.
"The worst thing is to be that guy that dyes his hair and gets testosterone therapy in an effort to reclaim their youth. Accept your age but don’t grow old!"
Work with your partner to maintain your sex life
There are both physical and psychological elements to sex, and maintaining your sex life as you age is intricately related to your overall health - specifically your cardiovascular health.
"You also need to ensure that you and your partner’s emotional and psychological connections are aligned. And first and foremost you need to have the physical “ability” to have sex – which can be affected by many things such as stress, medications, weight, the types of food you eat."
Your New Prime by Craig Cooper, published by Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins, is available now priced £18.99.
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