Cliff Richard: ‘It helped me a lot’ – a star’s 3 tips for healthy aging

Giving rare insight into how he stays healthy and fit in old age, Richard, who was knighted in 1995, said his successful career surprised him as much as anyone. In a retrospective interview, the Summer Holiday singer shared, “I never thought I’d turn 50, let alone have a 62-year career.” Continuing to share his longevity secrets, Richard said aging is not a problem as long as he is “lucky” to have good health. The star in the past battled a ‘dangerous’ case of shingles and was warned by doctors about his rising cholesterol, but overall he credits staying constantly physically active with helping him to retain its youth.

“I always tell people, you know, keep moving forward. If you can run, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. Keep everything moving and I think that has helped me a lot, Richard has revealed in the past.

“Some people just don’t age well, but you can still grow old and be happy. I don’t even know what I look like now, but you don’t have to be 20 to have fun.

“You can still have fun within your age group within your level of tennis play, or whatever sport you choose to play. That’s what I do. I stay active,” he continued before mentioning the importance of diet in combination with exercise.

He added: “The trick is trying to stay healthy and sometimes that means giving up foods you shouldn’t be eating and want.”

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One of the ways Richard has maintained his lean physique in the past is by playing tennis twice a week and hitting the gym regularly, which makes his Wimbledon appearance not so surprising.

Having lost his 87-year-old mother Dorothy Webb after a long battle with dementia, Richard is determined to personally live to be 100.

Speaking about his centenary approaching, he said: “I just read a book I bought, Hundreds of Ways to Reach 100. It mentions apples and celery juice and things like that.

“I’ve been true to what I believe in and it’s served me well,” before adding with a laugh, “They should start treating me like an old man.”

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The National Institute on Aging explains that there are many factors that influence “healthy aging.” These can include genetic factors that are not within an individual’s control, but also others such as exercise, diet, and mental health management.

Importance of Exercise

Research has shown that regular exercise can reduce the risk of serious diseases such as:

  • Coronary disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Certain cancers.

In fact, it can reduce the risk of premature death by up to 30%. On the other end of the spectrum, being physically inactive or sedentary can significantly increase the chances of fat building up in your arteries (the blood vessels that carry blood to your organs).

If the arteries that carry blood to the heart are damaged and clogged, it can lead to a heart attack. If this happens in the arteries that carry blood to your brain, it can lead to a stroke.

For this reason, adults over 65 should strive to be physically active every day, even if it’s just light activity. Specifically, the NHS recommends the following:

  • Do activities that improve strength, balance, and flexibility at least two days a week
  • Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity if you’re already active, or a combination of the two
  • Reduce the time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of immobility with certain activities.

For most people, the easiest way to get moving is to incorporate an activity into daily life, such as walking for health or riding a bike instead of using the car to get around. However, the more they do the better, and participating in activities such as sports and exercise will make them even healthier.

Importance of diet

Although seemingly simple, a healthy diet is essential for good health and good nutrition. Not only does it keep individuals at a healthy weight, but it also protects them against many chronic non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

This is important regardless of an individual’s age, but as we age an individual may have slightly different requirements. This includes fewer calories but more protein. The Eatwell guide is divided into the following five food groups:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starches
  • Dairy Products and Alternatives
  • Beans, legumes, fish, eggs and other proteins
  • Oils and spreads.

Especially for older people, research shows that fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Starches are foods that give people energy and a range of nutrients and vitamins like vitamin B.

The same goes for dairy products and alternatives, which are a good source of calcium. It helps keep bones strong. Beans and legumes help the body heal after injury or surgery. Although individuals do not have to eat meat or fish every day, it is a good source of vitamin D which helps reduce the risk of heart disease.

The importance of mental health

Mental health issues affect the way a person thinks, feels and interacts with others. This can become increasingly difficult as people get older, especially when coping with bereavement. Depression is more common than many people think – it affects one in five people. For this reason, it is often mistaken for a normal part of aging.

Age UK explains that being depressed can manifest in different ways and each person’s experience will be different. Symptoms include:

  • Lack of interest and inability to enjoy things you normally enjoy
  • Being reluctant to engage in usual activities or leave your home
  • Feeling tired
  • Sleep too much or too little
  • Loss of appetite or eating more than usual
  • Lose or gain weight in a relatively short period of time
  • Losing self-confidence and feeling that life is useless
  • Being self-critical and feeling guilty
  • Having suicidal thoughts.

In order to cope with and care for the mental health of older adults, it is important to be prepared for changes, to continue to talk about changes and concerns with others, to seek help if needed, to think in the future to have a plan, to stay tuned, to be in touch with others and to stay active. For confidential help and support, contact The Samaritans 24 hours a day at www.samaritans.org or by email at [email protected]

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