On average, people are living longer lives. Across men and women, a 50-year-old in 2023 will on average live for a further 36 years.1 A longer life can be an exciting prospect. However, in our ‘Second 50’ research of 900 workers and 100 retirees, we found that 82% were somewhat or very concerned about their health in retirement.2
With declining health a worry for many, it’s important to keep both our brain and body active as we grow older. Doing so could help you age well and make the most of the opportunities a longer life can bring. From sleeping better to moving more, here are some low-cost ways to boost your mental and physical health.
Free ways to keep physically fit
We all know daily exercise is good for our physical health – it can lower our risk of various health conditions including stroke, obesity, diabetes and cancer. But it also has brain-boosting benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety and increasing self-esteem.
Fortunately, staying active doesn’t mean you need to sign up for an expensive gym membership or hire a personal trainer. For example, park runs are a scenic way of clocking some cardio – find your nearest park run on their website. Many bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups and squats, can be done in the comfort of your own living room. Low-impact activities such as gardening can also be a great form of exercise, especially if you have physical limitations.
If you have a busy schedule, try to fit small spells of exercise into your daily routine. Consider taking the stairs instead of the lift if you can, or doing some quick exercises at your desk. Strive to stay active throughout the day, especially if you’re in a job that involves sitting for long hours.
Granted, some of us may lack the motivation to keep fit. The key to making exercise a lifelong habit is finding an approach that truly inspires and motivates you. Gamifying your exercise might be a start. For example, set a daily step target and track your progress over time using apps such as the free Steps App. Having a goal to work towards – such as completing a 5k or 10k – might also boost your motivation. And working out with friends can increase your accountability, improving your fitness over the long run.
Consider your diet
A balanced diet – one that includes different foods from the five main food groups – is key to staying healthy. The good news is that it’s entirely possible to eat well on a budget.
For starters, you could try eating more plant-based foods, which can benefit both your health and your wallet. Research shows that vegetarian and vegan diets tend to be the most affordable. What’s more, according to the Netflix series ‘Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones’, people leading longer lives tend to follow a plant-based diet.
Other ways to eat well on a budget include pre-planning your meals and making a shopping list, which can lower your grocery bill. Also, opt for healthy, affordable foods where possible, such as tinned or frozen fish, beans and lentils, tofu and grains. For more ideas, check out article 9 money saving food tips to help you live sustainably.