One of the best things about being in a place like Dubai is that you can get away with the odd bit of indulgence. Second (or fifth!) helpings at brunch, soaking up the rays by the pool and hitting ladies’ nights with friends are part of the fun of living on these sunny shores… but your body may not be thanking you for it. And while we love going out and enjoying ourselves, we certainly don’t want to end up with the body of an 80 year-old by the time we hit 40. So, with this in mind, we decided to find out just what our cheeky indulgences are doing to our health and wellbeing. Read the below to find out...
Q1. Do you smoke?
c. I used to but gave up the deadly weed recently
d. I used to but gave up more than five years ago
Q2. How stressful would you say your job is?
a. Very – I worry about it pretty much constantly
b. The pressure is moderate but I still feel overworked
c. Average, but I don’t let it worry me too much
d. Very low pressure
Q3. How much sleep do you get per night?
a. Around 8 hours
b. Between 6-8 hours
c. Less than 6 hours
d. I suffer from insomnia and sleep fitfully
Q4. Do you indulge in bubbly at brunches?
a. Yes, I limit it to at the weekends only
b. Yes, I drink heavily a few nights a week – and I don’t need the excuse of brunch
c. Yes, but I’m just a moderate drinker as a rule
d. I don’t drink
Q5. How much exercise to you get?
a. Erm… I keep meaning to go to the gym, but I just can’t find the time
b. I’m a gym bunny – I give myself one day off a week at the most
c. I am in the gym about three times a week, and do a range of exercise including yoga
Q6. Your diet is…
a. Healthy in the week, and slips at weekends when brunch and take-aways make up the majority of my food
b. Balanced and full of fruit and veg, with the odd treat
c. Pretty unhealthy, as I don’t have time to cook properly
d. Strict – I have cut out at least one food group and I never ever slip up
Q7. Downtime is…
a. A distant memory
b. Something I try to have about once a week
c. All I do outside of work – I’m far too tired/busy to see other people by the time I get home
d. Totally necessary. I aim for a balance of alone time and time with friends
Q8. Let’s talk shoes. Do you live in heels?
a. Yup. Three inches or more every day
b. I’m a flats girl but wear the occasional heel when I go out
c. Sensible heels for work, skyscrapers for weekends
Q9. In your job, how much walking around do you do?
a. I’m on my feet all day
b. Does walking to the coffee machine count?
c. I have a job which involves physical activity
d. I sit at my computer all day but try to take walking breaks during lunch
Q10. When you come home from work…
a. I have another list of chores to do including the childcare and cooking
b. I am too tired to do anything
c. I always seem to have made plans I can’t get out of
d. Either I chill out for a while, or make low keys plans I look forward to
Q11. Adrenaline is:
a. My middle name. At weekends I’m likely to be wakeboarding or skydiving
b. A distant memory. Along with energy and excitement
c. Best left to the professionals. I don’t really like to leave my comfort zone
d. Great now and again – I like a happy medium
Q12. How much of a role does technology play in your life?
a. I stare at a computer screen all day and my BlackBerry will have to be prised from my cold, dead hand
b. None. The last time I used a mobile phone or computer was in 2006
c. An average amount. I do like a good text or email, but I’m not addicted
Q13. If you could rate your general health/wellbeing, how would you say you feel?
a. I’m prone to colds and feel tired or borderline sick most of the time
b. I rarely get ill, and feel good most of the time
c. Average. I feel good most of the time, but I know I could do with eating better and exercising more
Add up your scores below to find out what your real age is:
1 a) 10 b) 0 c) 5 d) 2
2 a) 4 b) 2 c) 0
3 a) 0 b) 10 c) 2 d) 3
4 a) 5 b) 10 c) 2 d) 0
5 a) 5 b) 2 c) 0
6 a) 5 b) 0 c) 10 d) 3
7 a) 5 b) 3 c) 4 d) 0
8 a) 3 b) 0 c) 2
9 a) 1 b) 3 c) 0 d) 2
10 a) 4 b) 5 c) 3 d) 0
11 a) 1 b) 3 c) 2 d) 0
12 a) 4 b) 0 c) 1
13 a) 4 b) 0 c) 2
So, how old are you really?
10 points or less: You are your real age
Congratulations – your body is in the shape it should be for your age! According to dermatologist Dr Lina Houssami: “Ageing is the accumulation of biological changes in a person over time,” and you’re in the enviable position that your biological changes aren’t being sped up by guzzling too much bubbly or fatty foods. But this doesn’t mean the work stops here. “Getting older is influenced by many factors that are in our control such as exposure to sunshine, drinking alcohol, smoking, and leading a sedentary lifestyle,” Houssami says - and this is something we need to be vigilant about. To manage your lifestyle, and keep your skin in tip top condition (because, let’s face it, living in Dubai can mean you end up with skin like a leather handbag), Houssami advises sticking to the following to keep your real age the same as your age in years:
● Protect yourself from the sun
● Eat food rich in anti-oxidants
● Drink plenty of water
● Maintain a healthy lifestyle
● Do physical exercise
● Stay positive
10-25 points: You are 5-10 years older than your real age
Chances are you know that elements of your diet and/or lifestyle could do with a few tweaks to get you in maximum condition. Perhaps you’re eating a wee bit too much or you’re overdoing it at the gym. According to specialist orthopedic surgeon Dr Youssef Fallaha, “Putting on weight is a bad thing for the knees, hips, ankles and back, as it will put more pressure on the cartilage.” However, he also warns; “Studies have shown that doing too much exercise, especially running, affects the joint surface and could trigger arthritis.” The key here is balance, which also applies to stress. “Not managing your time effectively causes a rise in stress levels which impacts on your health,” Dr Fallaha warns. So blocking out some downtime is a must. Ditto turning off technology. If you sit at a computer, take breaks every 40 minutes to move your joints. Walking round the block in your lunch hour will also clear your head, but if you’re walking in heels, take heed: the ideal heel height is low (about 5cm). Dr Fallaha explains: “Although very high heels are fashionable, they put pressure on the calf muscles and can cause tendinitis.” Better save those stillies for the weekend...
25-50 points: You are 15 years older than your real age
You’re not quite in the terrible category but, let’s face it, you’re a long way from being as healthy as you could be. It may be that you are guilty of one of the big agers (smoking, drinking heavily or overeating excessively), in which case, you’ll also need to read the advice in the column to your right. However, it may also be that you are doing several smaller things which can age you, such as spending too much time in the sun, letting your healthy eating plan slip at weekends or cutting out important food groups. Dr Houssaimi explains: “UltraViolet radiation is well known as the major causal factor in premature aging, skin cancer, aggravation of various skin diseases (lupus, porphyria), and the appearance of multiple skin changes (such as liver/sun spots). Protect yourself by staying out of the sun when it is strongest, using sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and wearing protective clothing.” She also advises following a balanced diet to stay healthy. “Foods rich in antioxidants bring the most benefits as well as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, monounsaturated fats (found in olive oil), and omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Drinking at least two litres of water per day is also a must,” Dr Houssaimi adds. Remember that by making changes now, you’ll re-write your future health.
55 or more: You are 20+ years older than your real age
Oh dear! There are only a few things which would have dropped you in the 20+ category, and unfortunately they all involve doing things to excess. Smoking, drinking and overeating take a serious toll on your body - and they are issues you need to address now. “Everyone knows the dangers of smoking and how it will increase the chance of cancer of the lung, throat, tongue and mouth by many folds,” explains Dr Fallaha. “Some people say ‘look at my grandfather, he smokes like a chimney and he is still alive’. They are the exceptions.” If you’re drinking heavily as well as smoking, you’re just doing further damage to your body as you’re putting extra pressure on your liver and heart too. And if all that smoking and drinking makes you fancy a burger, just remember Dr Fallaha’s warning that, “Obesity opens the door to so many other problems like breathing difficulties, joint and back pain.” So what to do? Cutting down initially should be your goal - aim to have more alcohol free nights a week and limit fatty foods to one day a week. You should also look to increase the amount of exercise you do and, you guessed it, quit smoking. If you need some help, Allen Carr’s book The Easyway to Stop Smoking (Dhs30, amazon.com) is fab.