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HEALTH CHECK

I’m a health expert – from covering an eye to standing on one leg – these simple tests could reveal how healthy you are

GIVE yourself an at home health MoT with these checks that can provide surprising amounts of information about your body.

We told you yesterday how the inability to stand on one leg for ten seconds after the age of 50 could indicate an early death.

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Being unable to bend and flex towards your ankles could flag up an increased risk of heart problemsCredit: Getty
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Check for any early signs of age related macular degeneration which can lead to problems with vision and sightCredit: Getty

Try these simple tests that could reveal subtle, but vital warning signs about any issues, before it’s too late.

TOUCH TOES

Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you and see how far you can reach towards your feet.

How close you can get to your toes is a good way to monitor flexibility which also provides important information about heart health.

Being unable to bend and flex towards your ankles could flag up an increased risk of stiff arteries, which could lead to potential cardiovascular disease or complications, especially if you are over 40.

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If you can’t get near your toes your heart could be working harder, so it’s worth getting your blood pressure checked.

MONITOR MOLES

Keep a careful eye on your skin for changes to any moles, warts or lesions.

Moles can change to a type of cancer called melanoma which is the third most common skin cancer in the UK.

But the good news is that this is often treatable if caught early. In a well-lit room look out for changes in size, colour, number or asymmetry of moles, as well as any itchy, bleeding or sore patches.

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If you are fair haired, have lots of moles, or work outside be extra vigilant about observing skin checks.

MEASURE YOUR WAIST

Your waist measurement can provide crucial information about your health. Calculate your waist to height ratio to check your Body Mass Index (BMI) to see if you fall within a healthy range of between 18.5 and 24.9 (see nhs.uk).

Be aware that a big waist measurement still increases your chance of health problems - even when you are a healthy weight.

Women should aim for a ‘low-risk’ waist size of less than 31.5 inches; for men, it’s less than 37 inches.

A bigger belly circumference means more visceral tummy fat which could place you at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease.

Measure just above your hips and encircle your waist over your belly button for accuracy – and don’t breathe in.

TAP YOUR FEET

Find your pulse by placing a finger on your wrist or neck and tap your foot in time to the beat for a minute.

If it’s very irregular and you can’t tap along easily in time there could be an issue with your heart rhythm, a potential warning sign for atrial fibrillation or stroke.

This simple test can easily highlight extreme irregularities, fluttering or palpitations, which you should discuss with your GP.

READ YOUR PALMS

Your hands can tell you more about your health than you might think, and give crucial indications of your iron levels.

Hold your hand palm up and push fingers back.

The deep lines should look darker than the rest of the skin on your hand, if they are pale or turn white, this can indicate reduced circulation in blood vessels as a result of low iron.

Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, causing exhaustion, shortness of breath, brittle nails and cold hands and feet. 

COVER ONE EYE

Check for any early signs of age related macular degeneration which can lead to problems with vision and sight.

Looking directly at a door or window frame cover one eye with your hand, then alternate and repeat.

If your vision doesn’t stay straight and focused and there are any gaps, blurring, distortion or wavy lines you should get your eyes checked immediately.

These could suggest eye-related changes. 

SIT AND STAND

A simple longevity test is to measure how easily you can go from a standing position, lower to sitting cross-legged on the floor, then get back up.

Notice how often you need to use a hand or lower body part for support, or how many times you wobble.

Difficulty with this simple sitting-rising test can denote a lack or flexibility and fitness, and denotes a potential shorter life span.

If you struggle to perform it, boost your fitness to increase life expectancy.

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SKIP TO THE LOO

Don’t be embarrassed about monitoring your bowel movements, look at your poo regularly after you go as any changes to your number twos could flag up possible health issues ranging from gut issues, thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies to stress or dehydration, or more serious problems such as bowel cancers or Parkinson’s Disease. 

Make a note of any ongoing differences to bathroom habits, from changes to frequency and straining to smell, colour and texture. If these continue beyond two weeks seek medical advice.

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Be aware that a big waist measurement still increases your chance of health problems - even when you are a healthy weightCredit: Getty
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Can you tap your foot to your pulse - if not you could have heart problems loomingCredit: Getty
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