7 ways to stay healthy in later life

While making healthy lifestyle changes as early as possible gives you the biggest health benefits, taking action later in life can still have a positive impact. We highlight 7 easy changes you can make to help keep your mind and body healthy for longer.

Mediterranean diet banner

The Mediterranean diet includes lots of fruit and vegetables, beans, lentils, wholegrains as well as fish, white meat and nuts and seeds along with some low-fat dairy produce and fat from unsaturated sources like olive oil. It’s been shown to help reduce the risk of developing problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and raised cholesterol.

Try a new hobby

Positive lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on your quality of life. Keep your mind and body moving by learning something new. If it’s something active (whether that’s joining a walking group, learning to dance, or playing a sport) then that’s even better!

Eat more fruit and vegetables

Boosting your vegetable intake will help add fibre, vitamins and minerals to your meals. Your digestive system slows down as you get older, so a fibre-rich diet can help avoid problems of constipation. Eating more fibre from fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, beans and lentils can also help to reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease, as well as helping you to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Keep active

Those who are active in older age are at reduced risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases. Why not try a short daily walk at a pace that’s suitable for you? One study has shown that walking for more than four hours per week – that’s just 35 minutes a day – helps reduce the risk of stroke in men aged 60-80. And research shows that taking up exercise in later life – even if you’ve never done much before – can still bring benefits. Just check with your doctor first if exercise is new to you.

Watch your weight

Many people put on weight and lose muscle as we get older – partly because we tend to be less active. Carrying too much fat raises your risk of heart and circulatory diseases, diabetes and many cancers. But it doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of ageing.

Control your blood pressure

In general, blood pressure rises as you get older. High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. So cut back on the salt you consume (don’t forget the salt in ready-prepared foods, including bread and cereals) and take any medication prescribed. If you haven’t had it measured for a while, get your blood pressure checked at your GP surgery or local pharmacy.

Get an NHS health check

If you live in England, are aged between 40 and 74 years of age and don’t have certain pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease or high blood pressure, you’ll be invited for a free NHS Health Check every five years – providing your GP surgery offers it. Some pharmacies also offer the Health Check too. The comprehensive check-up looks out for early signs of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, dementia and type 2 diabetes, so it’s worth taking 20-30 minutes of your time to have it done.

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