How can you stay healthy when you’re older? 3 May

How can you stay healthy when you’re older? 

Starting to think about how you can stay healthy in later life? Don’t worry, we’re here to help!

As we get older, not only are we more susceptible to illness and injury, but you may find your mind starts to slow down too. Good nutrition and regular exercise can help against cardiovascular diseases and cognitive decline; you can also improve your dental, bone and joint health just by being careful about what you eat and how much exercise you are getting.

As we age it can become difficult to maintain a healthy weight and good energy levels, meaning you may feel tired more often. Healthy fats are an important energy source and key to a healthy diet; so try to ensure you include plenty of them in your meals. Good sources include oily fish, avocados and peanut butter! Carbohydrates are also great energy sources. Wholegrain rice and pasta, cereals, lentils and more can all help with energy and fibre which is important for maintaining healthy bowel function and preventing constipation as we age.

When getting older your body can have trouble building and repairing muscle tissue. Meat, fish, dairy products (including milk, cheese, yogurts) and eggs can help to increase the protein in your diet. For vegetarians and vegans, lentils, beans, tofu and tempeh are also good sources of protein.

When we get older, we are also more likely to suffer from vitamin deficiencies. Different vitamins and minerals help with different bodily processes, so it’s great to get a whole mix! B vitamins helps with the brain and nervous systems. A lack of B vitamins can cause fatigue, a decline in your mental abilities, such as memory, understanding and judgement and loss of appetite. Growing older can, in itself, cause a decrease in appetite, so keeping up your intake of B vitamins is key. B vitamins can be found in vegetables, dairy, other animal products and breakfast cereals.

Vitamin C and Zinc support the immune system and lack of these can harm your immune systems and leave you more susceptible to picking up infections. Mix up your day with shellfish to get some zinc into your diet; try out shrimp, oysters, crab and more! If shellfish isn’t the way for you, meat and dairy products also contain good amounts of zinc. Pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts and tofu are good options for vegans.

Oily fish is key to have in your diet as it contains omega 3 which helps to prevent against heart disease and maintain healthy brain function, it also contains some vitamin D. Vitamin D maintains healthy bones and muscle function as it aids in calcium absorption. Low levels of vitamin D can increase risk of bone fractures, which is important as when we get older, we tend to be at higher risk of falls. We get most of our Vitamin D from sunlight which is synthesized in the skin, but often struggle to get out in the sunlight often enough in the UK. This is especially true of the older generation. It is therefore recommended that all adults over the age of 65 take a supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily and regularly eat foods containing vitamin D (e.g. oily fish and fortified breakfast cereals).

Calcium is also really important for bone health, muscle function and normal blood clotting. Lack of calcium can lead towards different types of arthritis, one being osteoarthritis. With daily intake of milk, cheese and yoghurt you can help reduce the risk of getting arthritis!

How does exercise help? 

Exercise helps in so many ways to keep you healthy and fit! It can increase life expectancy, reduce risk of various diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, dementia, strokes, depression and more! Even if you have arthritis, just 10 minutes low impact exercise can help ease pain and joint stiffness. Brio’s Cheshire Change Hub run Falls Prevention and Exercise Safely schemes. If you’ve had a fall and are at risk of falling, you may be eligible for one of their schemes. If you want to get into exercising but you’re unsure on how to start CCH can also advise you and start you on your fitness journey.

Click here for how Cheshire Change Hub can help you!

For more information on how to keep healthy when getting older, check out the British Nutritional Foundation.

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