These days the emphasis is on leading a healthy lifestyle and staying well rather than waiting until health problems arise.
Like most people, you probably have a reasonable idea of what is good for you – and what isn't. You know you should eat more fruit and vegetables and cut down on saturated fats; you know you should be walking to the local newsagent rather than jumping in the car.
So what simple steps can you take to improve your health?
Often it’s just a question of cutting down on junk food and taking up an activity you enjoy, perhaps an aerobics class, a round of golf or walking.
If you are an older or have a disability you may find it more difficult to introduce exercise into your daily life but it’s still worth making the effort. Some exercise classes and walking groups are specifically for older people and lots of sports clubs welcome disabled people.
Age Cymru offers advice about keeping your body healthy, including looking after:
- your bones
- your feet
- your eyesight and
- your hearing
Eating, drinking and smoking
What you put into your body is really important and some simple changes to your diet can make a huge difference. Try to increase the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat, reduce your meal size and cut down on sugar and salt. It’s important to drink plenty of fluids, though best to avoid sugary drinks.
If you’re struggling on a tight budget – as many people now are – take a look at Jack Monroe’s excellent Cooking on a Bootstrap or Thrifty Lesley for some great healthy low-cost meal ideas.
The negative effects of drinking too much alcohol are well-documented and there is plenty of support available if you need help to cut down on your drinking or tackle substance addiction.
As well as the health risks, getting drunk means you are more likely to fall over or be involved in an accident.
Smoking is now associated with many health risks. If you smoke, try to give it up or at least cut right down.
Taking care of your health
Looking after yourself includes attending regular health checks including dental check-ups and eye tests. Regular smear tests and mammograms are important for women and neither should men neglect their health.
If you have a long-term condition like heart disease, asthma or diabetes, it’s even more important that you take care of yourself, take any regular medication and heed the advice of health professionals, e.g. losing weight or walking regularly.
If you’d like support to make healthier lifestyle choices, ask your GP about the National Exercise Referral Scheme.
One of the side effects of looking after your physical health is that it’s likely to have a positive effect on your emotional well-being too.
It’s very easy to neglect your own health needs when you are looking after someone else, but if you want to continue in your caring role it’s important that you remain fit and healthy.
If you want more ideas about healthy living and eating well, why not visit your local library and borrow some books on the subject, or have a look at the Living and Feeling Well section on NHS 111 Wales.