13 Tips for keeping healthy

Everyone hopes to live a long and healthy life and receive good-quality medical care if they become ill. However, taking steps to live a healthy lifestyle is the best way to avoid spending time in the hospital. Here are our tips to help you stay healthy.

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This article was written by:
Chris Steele
Founder and Editor

Chris is our resident private health insurance and healthcare expert. He has over a decade of experience writing about private medical insurance and treatment. He's Chartered Insurance Institute qualified and is regularly quoted by the national press.

Why good health matters

Staying healthy lets you enjoy your life, spend time with your loved ones and stay at work. The UK has some of the best medical care in the world, but the NHS is under unprecedented pressure, with patients facing long waiting times for treatment.

Unhealthy lifestyles significantly impact the NHS, with increased hospital admissions due to smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. It's estimated that preventable health problems account for approximately 40% of NHS spending, meaning lifestyle changes can improve our lives and reduce the pressure on the NHS.

Good health reduces your risk of health issues

While we'll all likely need access to high-quality healthcare at some point in our lives, it's a good idea to reduce our risk of becoming ill in the first place. A combination of a healthy lifestyle and preventative healthcare can prevent many illnesses and provide positive health benefits.

Healthy living can help prevent some minor ailments and also reduce the risk of chronic conditions and other more serious health conditions in the long term.

Chronic conditions

Poor health increases the risk of experiencing many chronic illnesses. Others may have a genetic element but can be exacerbated by lifestyle factors.

For example, some patients can control type 2 diabetes or return to a pre-diabetic state by eating a healthy diet and increasing their activity levels. Others may need medication, but healthy eating and exercise can make their treatment more effective.

Giving up smoking can prevent respiratory illness or reduce existing symptoms and help treat high blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease or stroke.


One in two of us will get cancer in our lifetime. Different types of cancers have varying causes, including genetic factors, such as those found in ovarian and breast cancer. However, lifestyle factors increase the risk of many cancers, so improving our health lowers the risk.

The link between smoking and lung cancer is well established. Excessive alcohol consumption also increases the risk of developing some gastrointestinal cancers and breast cancer. Acting to give up smoking, reduce our alcohol consumption and maintain a healthy weight can all make a real difference.

Heart disease and stroke

Heart disease and stroke can be fatal or cause long-term disability. They are closely linked, and many of the risk factors are the same. Giving up smoking, losing weight and increasing our activity levels can all reduce our risk of heart disease. Too much salt in our diet can cause high blood pressure, which is linked to heart disease and stroke. Healthy eating can help to reduce blood pressure and the overall risk of heart disease.

Mental health conditions

Mental health problems appear to be on the rise, with recent figures showing that 20% of young people between the ages of eight and 25 had a mental health disorder. 12.7% of all UK sickness absences relate to mental health problems.

Positive mental well-being increases our enjoyment of life, while mental ill health can be debilitating. Taking steps to reduce stress can improve our overall health.

An illustration of 2 people exercising together. The text on the graphic reads: " Tips for living a healthy lifestyle: Exercise regularly;  Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol; Eat a balanced diet; Drink plenty of water; Carry out regular health checks; Reduce stress."

Our tips to help you stay healthy

There are many ways to improve our health and well-being, from healthy eating to good quality sleep. Developing healthy habits can take time, but taking small steps can offer significant benefits.

Here are our tips to help you lead a healthier lifestyle.

1. Eat a healthy diet

Poor diets can impact almost every aspect of our health, and increasing food poverty makes it more challenging for many people to make healthier choices.

There's a vast array of information on ways to eat a healthy diet. Ours comes from the NHS Live Well site, which also provides resources to help you improve your diet and general health.

Eat more fruit and vegetables

You're probably already familiar with the idea of eating your five a day, but sticking with it brings many health benefits. Your fruit and vegetables can be fresh, frozen or tinned.

Increase your fibre intake

Carbohydrates are often seen as the enemy when trying to lose weight, and anyone with type 2 diabetes must monitor their consumption carefully. However, starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta are all low-fat sources of fibre, which can reduce our risk of developing bowel and colorectal cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Eat more fish

Fish provides protein, which is excellent for building muscle strength. Oily fish can also reduce our risk of developing heart disease.

Eat less fat and sugar

Too much fat and sugar can cause weight gain. While we all need some fat in our diet, it's important to stick to healthier choices such as olive oil, reduce the amount of saturated fats we eat, and choose a low-fat diet overall.

You can eat less sugar by swapping sugar-sweetened beverages for sugar-free versions and only eating cakes and biscuits as an occasional treat.

Reduce the amount of salt in your diet

Too much salt can increase our blood pressure. It's recommended that adults have less than 6g per day. Avoiding adding salt to food can help. However, many processed foods have high salt levels. If a food label shows more than 1.5g of salt per 100g, it's high in salt.

Eat breakfast

Skipping breakfast might seem like an easy way to cut calories, but it can help you avoid snacking later in the day and provide vital nutrients such as fibre and protein.

2. Drink more water

Good hydration helps you maintain your body temperature, eliminate waste products, stay alert throughout the day, and protect your joints. You need more water in warm weather and when you exercise.

Government guidelines recommend 6-8 glasses per day. You can drink any non-alcoholic drink, but low-sugar beverages such as water, milk, and tea are ideal. Fruit juices and fizzy drinks can be high in free sugars.

3. Increase your activity levels

Increasing your activity can provide many health benefits, including better bone health, lower blood pressure and improved mental well-being. People in the UK are becoming less physically active; physical activity levels in adults fell from 63% to 61% and from 47% to 45% in children between 2018 and 2021.

You can improve your physical health by choosing an activity you enjoy, such as yoga, swimming, walking, or running. Start small and build up slowly. Monitoring your progress can help to keep you motivated. Physical activity doesn't have to be formal. Walking your children to school or gardening count and can give you quality time with your loved ones.

4. Improve your sleep

Getting enough sleep keeps your energy levels up and supports your mood, memory and concentration. It can also help you lose weight and support heart health and emotional well-being. It's also great for reducing stress.

A good sleep routine can include going to bed and getting up at the same time, avoiding blue light, caffeine and heavy meals before bedtime.

5. Lose weight

We've mentioned how good quality sleep, healthy eating, and physical activity can help you lose weight. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent many health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, liver disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Obesity is becoming more common in adults, but the National Child Measurement Programme has found a 5-6% increase in rates of overweight and obesity in children.

6. Give up smoking

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable illnesses and early deaths in England, although smoking among adults has fallen from 27% to 16% in the past two decades. Smoking rates remain high in deprived areas, meaning children are affected by second-hand smoke and smoking during pregnancy.

Quitting smoking can dramatically improve your health. There are various methods, including vaping and nicotine replacement. The NHS offers support to help you quit, including a free stop-smoking service.

7. Drink less alcohol

The NHS recommends drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol per week and regularly going over that can cause liver disease and hepatitis. Alcohol-related hospital admissions for liver disease increased by 11.7% between 2021 and 2022.

Keep an eye on your alcohol consumption and aim to have drink-free days. Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and use a smaller glass. If you're drinking with friends, buy your own drink rather than a round so you can stay in control.

8. Develop positive relationships

Positive interpersonal relationships and feeling part of our community support good mental well-being, particularly among young people. Spending time with your children benefits all of you, especially if you include some outdoor activity.

Gallup also found that having a best friend at work improves employee engagement and success.

9. Be safe in the sun

Time in the sun can be healthy. It gives us mood-boosting serotonin and vitamin D, which supports healthy bones. While overexposure is linked to skin cancer, it can help prevent some other cancers and improve skin conditions such as eczema, acne, and jaundice.

In the UK, staying in the shade between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. is wise, and following local guidance when travelling abroad is wise. Cover up with a hat and clothes and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, reapplying regularly and after swimming.

10. Schedule regular check-ups

Routine check-ups can help identify potential issues before they become more serious. Your doctor can refer you for treatment or provide guidance on improving your lifestyle. The NHS offers routine general health checks and other specific screening.

Eye tests and dental checks can also be an early warning system for potential health problems.

11. Practice good hygiene

Good personal hygiene makes you more pleasant to be around but can also help you stay healthy. Washing your face, hands and body and brushing your teeth can reduce your risk of catching common ailments such as colds or stomach bugs.

During COVID-19, we became more aware of the need to wash our hands. Washing your hands regularly prevents germs or infections from being passed on.

12. Practice safe sex

When you practice safe sex, you help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, herpes and HIV. Sexually transmitted infections can have long-term health implications, including reduced fertility and a need for ongoing treatment.

In most cases, condoms can provide good protection. You can find more detailed NHS guidance here.

13. Invest in health insurance

Health insurance provides access to private medical treatment when needed. However, more health insurance providers offer support services and rewards to help you improve your general health.

Services vary depending on your chosen insurer, so always check the small print to find benefits and services that meet your needs.

Support to improve your physical health

Many health insurers offer health screening to give you an overview of your health and areas for improvement. Some are general checks, while others provide more detailed tests such as women's health or athletic performance.

You can use this information to set health goals, and many providers offer support and accountability to help you meet your targets.

Rewards and discounts

Most health insurers have a rewards programme with perks and product discounts to help you get more active, eat well or stop smoking. Vitality rewards customers who achieve their health goals, and you can get a discount on premiums.

Mental health support

Basic health insurance policies provide direct access to limited counselling sessions without a GP referral. Some providers also have specialist telephone advice lines. If needed, you can also add more comprehensive coverage for additional counselling sessions and in-patient or out-patient psychiatric care.

Many insurers provide rewards and discounts on apps offering guided mindfulness meditation and other resources.

Getting professional advice

We hope this guide has helped you find new ways to keep healthy. If you'd like to learn more about how health insurance can support your health and well-being, contact us for a comparison quote. We'll connect you with a regulated broker for tailored advice.

Disclaimer: This information is general and what is best for you will depend on your personal circumstances. Please speak with a financial adviser or do your own research before making a decision.

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