How to age well

i. Get active

Ageing affects your balance, muscle strength and bones, but daily exercise helps you to stay strong and healthy. It will lower your risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and even cancer. If that wasn’t enough, staying active can boost your self-esteem, improve your sleep, and give you more energy. The recommended activity level is 30 minutes, five times a week – gardening, vigorous housework, cycling and daily walks all count. When sitting for long periods, try getting up and walking or stretching every 20 minutes. Experts also advise twice-weekly muscle strengthening exercises for the over 65s . If that sounds like a lot, try starting small – as you get stronger you may well be able to work up to those amounts. Why not look to attend a weekly strength and balance class or contact your local leisure centre or community centre to find out what’s going on there?

ii. Stay connected

Spending time with other people can improve your mental health and help to prevent you from feeling lonely or anxious. If you find that you are no longer able to do the things you used to or are unsure what activities you can get involved with locally, there is support to help you take up new hobbies and interests or find out about how you can get involved in volunteer work.

A Social Prescribing Link Worker can help you to find local support for your social, emotional and practical wellbeing by connecting you to voluntary and community services in your area. Further information can be found at the end of the leaflet.

iii. Reduce the amount you smoke

Smoking is linked to a whole range of health problems, including heart disease, lung cancer and bronchitis. The good news is that if you stop smoking, regardless of your age, your circulation, lung capacity and energy levels will improve. Places to go for help and advice can be found at the end of this guide.

iv. Watch what you eat and drink

A balanced diet is crucial for good health, energy and preventing illness. An ideal diet should be low in saturated fat with lots of fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, oily fish, and small amounts of low-fat dairy and lean meat.

The sensation of thirst can decrease with age, so don’t forget to top-up with water regularly throughout the day to avoid dehydration, especially during hot weather. Dehydration can make you feel tired and confused and can even cause urinary tract infections. Tea, coffee and fruit juice will also help you to stay hydrated but avoid sugary fizzy drinks. It’s recommended you drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread across three days or more, with at least two days per week booze-free. Fourteen units is approximately six medium (175ml) glasses of wine, or six pints of 4% beer. There’s no completely safe level of drinking but sticking within these guidelines lowers your risk of harming your health.

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