Almost all of us would like to be around until we are well into our "golden years", but just as important as getting there is being in the best health possible to allow us to enjoy them.
So what does it mean to age healthily? Ideally, it means getting into our later years without suffering from any significant disease, being independent and functioning as fully as possible. Rather than reversing the ageing process, concentrating on ageing well is the key to a happy time in later life.
There are several things you can do to help the process along the way, including keeping fit, keeping stress under control and eating well. As we get older, we become more likely to develop health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. We can significantly reduce our risks of illness in old age by maintaining healthy and active lifestyles.
Tips for ageing healthily
Focus on what you can control: the only person who can change your lifestyle is you. Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly to ensure it becomes habitual as you get older. Adults should take part in moderate exercise for 150 minutes a week, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity together with some muscle-strengthening exercises a couple of times a week. Keep your activities fresh and enjoyable, so they never feel like a chore
Get your beauty sleep: sleep is restorative - it helps your body to recover from the mental and physical rigours of the waking hours so make sure you do all you can to get six to eight hours of good-quality sleep each night. Remember that the amount of sleep you need is likely to be set in early adult life, but as you get older you may need less. As long as you're not feeling tired during the day and your performance is not impaired, you're probably getting enough sleep.
Keep your stress levels under control: relax and exercise to stay on top of the stresses in your life. Stress can affect you both mentally and physically, so take advantage of down-time and talk to family, friends and colleagues if you are struggling
Think about preventative healthcare: your doctor is there to help you stay healthy, not just to cure you when you become ill. Get regular check-ups to help prevent diseases, or to help catch diseases in the early stages when they are generally easier to treat.
Consider a vitamin D supplement if you're over 65: this will help you to maintain healthy bones and teeth. Again, your doctor will be able to advise you in more detail
Protect yourself in the sun: too much ultraviolet exposure can have a dramatic effect on the health of your skin and significantly increase your risk of developing skin cancer and cataracts. Always cover up as much as possible in the sun, wear sunscreen and UV-blocking sunglasses and try to avoid the more intense midday sun between 11.00 am and 3.00 pm and NEVER use tanning devices such as sunbeds and tanning lamps. However, getting 20 minutes a day in full sunshine, with face and arms uncovered, from April to October, will help to keep your vitamin D levels topped up.