With science showing little sign of matching the bold ideals of Walt Disney, we’re still a good way off cryogenic chambers and eternal youth. Indeed, reaching a century requires a great deal of effort in the health-stakes, which is why we asked double gold medallist and all-round daredevil explorer James Cracknell, who knows a thing or two about living a healthy life, to impart some wisdom…


“Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to deny yourself everything you like. It’s about asking questions such as, ‘Do I really need to eat that?’ The food in question might be an extra bag of crisps, a dessert after dinner, or a biscuit that you eat when you’re not even that hungry, but those treats do add up in the long run.”


“The treadmill is fine, as is hitting the gym, but you need more variety than spending five days a week working out in the same room because when it comes to staying healthy enriching the mind is as important as the body. Keep your brain active by playing more outdoor exercise, which could be anything from 5-a-side football to jogging around the city with a friend.”


“Never eat while you’re cooking. People don’t realise how much they eat when standing around a stove. By not munching you can eat more when you sit down and also take time to make something that’s going to satisfy you even more. Another important part of cooking right is to ensure you know what you’re eating and ensure it’s as unprocessed as possible. Think of it this way – the more your food is processed the more times it’s been touched by human hands.”


“Crush enough acai berries and you have the South American fountain of youth. I drink them a lot in smoothies as they are hard to source individually in the UK. Beetroot is amazing too. The qualities in beetroot, whether it be juice or soup are ridiculous for extending your vigour.


“Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper – it’s an oft quoted phrase but it’s also one of the most sensible you can adhere to. That’s why I eat lots in the morning, have a good lunch and ensure I don’t gorge in the evening, especially not before bed. That’s why comedians are generally wide because they’ll do a stand-up show and then have dinner before bed, not giving themselves time to burn it off.“


“If you picked up a diary and over a week entered everything you eat and everything you drink, you’d be amazed at how much was written down. This allows you to spot unhealthy patterns, such as a time of the day when your diet nosedives and your brain hasn’t picked up on it. This allows you to prepare and make adjustments to your intake.”


“I’ve spent enough time in deserts to know the harmful effects of UV rays; hang around the Yemen and you’ll see that all the locals hide their faces. Not only is it dangerous, it has an immediate aging effect on the face, and this goes for anyone in a European city. A bit of sunshine is fine in the summer, just don’t overdo it and you’ll keep your skin looking good in the long run.”

Hear more from James at 'innocent inspires: How to live well and die old', the first in a series of evenings from Innocent;

Words: Joe Ellison

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