We may not have any choice about growing old, it’s the most inevitable thing about our lives. But we do have a choice about how we grow old. We can choose to live a healthy, fulfilling life. Here are four tips to get you on the right track today.

Tip 1: Eat healthy & fresh food
We’ve heard the expression ‘You are what you eat’ and you only have to look inside a healthy person’s fridge or pantry to see it’s true. We are lucky to live in a country where fresh, healthy food is available and affordable.

But there are also some wicked temptations around too! So when loading up the trolley at the supermarket, balance the fruit, vegetables and lean protein with the odd naughty treat. Eat less sugar, flour and fatty foods, and more fish, nuts and seeds – and of course, drink plenty of water.

Tip 2: Find a physical activity you enjoy
Physical exercise is important for all of us, regardless of how old we are. We now know that physical exercise is even more important than it was when we were young for optimum health and longevity. A daily walk or swim can make all the difference to how we feel. Exercise makes your legs feel stronger, your body feels lighter and you have more energy. The secret is to find an activity you enjoy. It could be dancing, playing a sport or being active with your friends, partner or grandchildren. What do you most enjoy?

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Exercise makes your legs feel stronger, your body feels lighter and you have more energy

Tip 3: Do something new each week
Why not try something different every week to keep life interesting? Life is too short to get caught in a dreary routine so get ready to break old habits. Take a different route home, jump on a bus trip to go somewhere you’ve never been, phone a friend you haven’t seen for ages, or cook something exotic and invite friends around to try it out. Don’t be afraid to move out of your comfort zone. Explore your nearest city, visit the cinema or local theatre. Join a club or an evening class where you might make new friends. Most importantly, enjoy yourself! What do you want to try next?

Tip 4: Keep your brain active
Finally, mental stimulation is important for healthy ageing. One of the activities I always recommend is puzzling – of course! Countless puzzlers have written to tell me how much solving crosswords and puzzles has helped them to stay mentally fit, as well as passing the time in a satisfying way.

Crosswords are fun, they are inexpensive (compare a crossword magazine to the price of a cup of coffee or a greetings card) plus they give your ‘grey matter’ a good workout. Doctors recommend crosswords for stroke patients, because it helps them to regain their literary skills. And you learn some interesting facts along the way. You might even win a prize in a crossword competition!

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Christine Lovatt recommends puzzles as a way to keep your brain healthy!

Other ways of ‘waking up your brain’ is to try learning a language, or playing a musical instrument. Engage in a game of Scrabble, chess or Mahjong. Take up painting or drawing. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re not very good at it, it’s just for fun. And you will get better as you go. Read a newspaper from cover to cover, try memorising the shopping list and leaving it at home. Even using the opposite hand to the one you usually use, in simple tasks, can be beneficial.

However, the most important thing is to be positive and have fun. As the years go by we can all inevitably get a few aches and pains, but when they hit try to remember the lines of this beautiful poem:

Solitude by Ella Wheeler

Wilcox Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth
But has trouble enough of its own 

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What is your best tip for keeping both mind and body healthy? Let us know in the comments section below.

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