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
1/25 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
2/25 '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
3/25 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”
4/25 New online test predicts skin cancer risk
Health experts have created a new online tool which can predict a person’s risk of developing a common form of skin cancer. The tool uses the results of a 10-question-quiz to estimate the chance of a person aged 40 or over of having non-melanoma skin cancers within three years. Factors including the age, gender, smoking status, skin colour, tanning ability, freckling tendency, and other aspects of medical history are covered by the quiz
5/25 Multiple Sclerosis stem cell treatment 'helps patients walk again'
A new treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) has enabled some patients to walk again by “rebooting” their immune systems. As part of a clinical trial at Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital involving around 20 patients, scientists used stem cells to carry out a bone marrow transplant. The method known as an autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) works by using chemotherapy to destroy the area of the immune system which causes MS
6/25 Dementia patients left without painkillers and handcuffed to bed
Dementia patients experience a ‘shocking’ variation in the quality of hospital care they receive across England, a charity has warned. Staff using excessive force and not giving dementia patients the correct pain medication were among the findings outlined in a new report by The Alzheimer’s Society, to coincide with the launch of Fix Dementia Care campaign
7/25 Cancer risk 'increased' by drinking more than one glass of wine or pint of beer per day
Drinking more than one glass of wine or pint of beer a day increases the risk of developing cancer, according to medical experts. New guidelines for alcohol consumption by the UK published by chief medical officers warn that drinking any level of alcohol has been linked to a range of different cancers. The evidence from the Committee on Carcinogenicity (COC) overturns the oft-held view that a glass of red wine can have significant medical benefits for both men and women
8/25 Vaping 'no better' than smoking regular cigarettes
Vaping could be “no better” than smoking regular cigarettes and may be linked to cancer, scientists have found. The study which showed that vapour from e-cigarettes can damage or kill human cells was publsihed as the devices are to be rolled out by UK public health officials as an aid to quit smoking from 2016. An estimated 2.6 million people in the UK currently use e-cigarettes
9/25 Rat-bite fever
A teenager was hospitalised and left unable to move after she developed the rare rat-bite fever disease from her pet rodents which lived in her bedroom. The teenager, who has not been named, was taken to hospital after she complained of a pain in her right hip and lower back which later made her immobile, according to the online medical journal BMJ Case Reports. She suffered for two weeks with an intermittent fever, nausea and vomiting and had a pink rash on her hands and feet. The teenager, who had numerous pets including a dog, cat, horse and three pet rats, has since made a full recovery after undergoing a course of antibiotics. Blood tests showed that she was infected with for streptobacillus moniliformis – the most common cause of rat-bite fever. One of her three pet rats lay dead in her room for three weeks before her symptoms showed
10/25 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
11/25 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
12/25 Fat loss from pancreas 'can reverse' effects of type-2 diabetes
Less than half a teaspoon of fat is all that it takes to turn someone into a type-2 diabetic according to a study that could overturn conventional wisdom on a disease affecting nearly 3 million people in Britain. Researchers have found it is not so much the overall body fat that is important in determining the onset of type-2 diabetes but the small amount of fat deposited in the pancreas, the endocrine organ responsible for insulin production
13/25 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
14/25 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
15/25 Sugar tax
The Government should introduce a sugar tax to prevent an “obesity crisis” from crippling the NHS, a senior Conservative MP and former health minister has said. Dr Dan Poulter believes that the case for increased taxes on unhealthy sugary products was “increasingly compelling”
16/25 Cancer breakthrough offers new hope for survivors rendered infertile by chemotherapy
A potentially “phenomenal” scientific breakthrough has offered fresh hope to cancer patients rendered infertile by chemotherapy. For the first time, researchers managed to restore ovaries in mice affected by chemotherapy so that they were able to have offspring. The scientists now plan to begin clinical trials to see if the technique, which involves the use of stem cells, will also work in humans by using umbilical cord material and possibly stem cells taken from human embryos, if regulators agree
17/25 Take this NHS test to find out if you have a cancerous mole
An interactive test could help flag up whether you should seek advice from a health professional for one of the most common types of cancer. The test is available on the NHS Choices website and reveals whether you are at risk from the disease and recommends if you should seek help. The mole self-assessment factors in elements such as complexion, the number of times you have been severely sunburnt and whether skin cancer runs in your family. It also quizzes you on the number of moles you have and whether there have been any changes in appearance regarding size, shape and colour
18/25 Health apps approved by NHS 'may put users at risk of identity theft'
Experts have warned that some apps do not adequately protect personal information
19/25 A watchdog has said that care visits must last longer
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said home help visits of less than 30 minutes were not acceptable unless part of a wider package of support
20/25 Pendle in Lancashire tops list of five most anxious places to live in the UK
Pendle in Lancashire has been named the most anxious place to live in the UK, while people living in Fermanagh and Omagh in Northern Ireland have been found to be the happiest
21/25 Ketamine could be used as anti-depressant
Researchers at the University of Auckland said monitoring the effects of the drug on the brain has revealed neural pathways that could aid the development of fast-acting medications. Ketamine is a synthetic compound used as an off anaesthetic and analgesic drug, but is commonly used illegally as a hallucinogenic party drug. Dr Suresh Muthukumaraswamy, a senior researcher at the university and a member of the institution’s Centre for Brain Research, used the latest technology in brain imaging to investigate what mechanisms ketamine uses to be active in the human brain
22/25 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
23/25 The biggest cause of early death in the world is what you eat
Unhealthy eating has been named as the most common cause of premature death around the globe, new data has revealed. A poor diet – which involves eating too few vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains and too much red meat, salt and sugar - was shown to be a bigger killer than smoking and alcohol
24/25 Scientists develop blood test that estimates how quickly people age
Scientists believe it could be used to predict a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease as well as the “youthfulness” of donated organs for transplant operations. The test measures the vitality of certain genes which the researchers believe is an accurate indication of a person’s “biological age”, which may be younger or older than their actual chronological age
25/25 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
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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