Our beloved queen has been on the throne for nearly 63 years - a remarkable achievement matched only by Queen Victoria. In fact, she's the longest reigning British Monarch ever. But Queen Elizabeth's predecessor in this exclusive 'club' of longevity ascended the throne at the age of 18 and passed away at the age of 81 - our queen is already 88 and shows little sign of slowing down. So what can we learn from the queen about the secrets of a long and healthy life?
Savour your food
The queen proves beyond a doubt that even if you have to eat out regularly, you don't need to put on weight. We may not all be entertaining heads of state on a regular basis, but we can adopt the same approach to how we approach a meal if we don't have any say in what is set down in front of us. The queen apparently makes a point of putting down her knife and fork between mouthfuls. This allows you to concentrate on what you're tasting, and of course also slows down your eating speed. Your body takes about 20 minutes to register that it is full, so eating quickly makes it easy to overeat, as well as risking that uncomfortable bloating feeling which makes you wish you'd realised your eyes were bigger than your stomach.
A little of what you fancy does you good
Moderation seems to be one of the queen's key health secrets. Perhaps growing up in the rationing years around the war (she apparently saved clothing coupons for her wedding dress!) made her realise that excess isn't necessary to enjoy life. She enjoys a drink - but just one. She eats regular meals, but ensures they include plenty of fresh vegetables. Unlike her namesake Queen Elizabeth I, she's highly unlikely to call for a dish of peacock or hare, but she does enjoy a small, lean portion of lamb. While she is well-known for her love of traditional British teatime delicacies, she knows they are a treat and doesn't indulge to excess, or snack between meals.
As a doctor, I explain regularly to my patients the health benefits of sitting down to proper meals rather than 'grazing' or eating in front of the television - if your brain is distracted, it doesn't register what you're eating, and underestimates the number of calories you've consumed. Somehow I doubt pie and chips in front of the telly are a common feature of the royal household!
Get a pet
The stress-reducing benefits of pet-owning are well recognised. We could all learn a lesson from the queen's devotion to her beloved Corgis, who bring out her nurturing instincts (she once demoted a footman who fed her corgis brandy). Fortunately for the rest of us, a rescue home cat will do the job just as well as a thoroughbred racehorse!
I doubt the queen has ever been seen in a Lycra® leotard, but she certainly knows the value of regular exercise. The best kind for heart health and general fitness is aerobic exercise - the kind that makes you mildly out of breath. For decades, she has taken regular brisk walks and, until cartilage surgery to her knee in 2003, spent several hours a week horse-riding.
Apparently the queen also concentrates on her posture, keeping her back upright. This, along with weight bearing exercise (walking, jogging, cycling, tennis all count) help guard against the signs of osteoporosis (thinning of the bones). Yoga also helps keep her supple - an important safeguard against the stiffness that osteoarthritis can bring. It's worth pointing out that swimming doesn't guard against osteoporosis, despite being a fabulous way to improve your general fitness and heart health.
A happy home life really does up your chances of a long life. We can't all have millions of adoring subjects, but we all have the odd 'annus horribilis', when the support of close friends and family is invaluable. What we wouldn't all give for a marriage as long and happy as hers!
Queen Elizabeth lost her father tragically young as a result of smoking. He, of course, grew up in an era where the dangers of smoking were almost unknown, and 'asthma cigarettes' were regularly advertised to treat rather than worsen lung conditions! Even though doctors knew relatively little about the risks of smoking in her youth, she never succumbed to the evil weed, adding an average seven years to her life expectancy.
With thanks to 'My Weekly' magazine where this article was originally published.
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