Thanks to advances in medical treatment and greater awareness of what’s needed for a healthy lifestyle, life expectancy has continued to improve in the UK. However, the latest research shows that the UK is experiencing a slowdown when it comes to life expectancy rates. The UK has slipped from being one of the top performers in improving life expectancy, to the bottom of the list, raising questions about what’s behind this slowdown and what can be done to improve it. Could better self-care help improve life expectancy rates?
What the statistics show
According to the Office of National Statistics, the UK’s growth in life expectancy rates has slowed down in recent years – going from one of the strongest of the 20 top economic powers, to one of the worst. The results show that the rate has gone from 12.9 weeks per year for women from 2006 to 2011 to 1.2 weeks per year from 2011 to 2016 – a 90% decrease, while the rate was down 76% in men. Only the US performed below the UK.
At present, experts are unsure of the exact reasons why this slowdown has occurred, but austerity could be one reason. In the meantime, taking responsibility for your own self-care could help to improve your own life expectancy through living a healthier lifestyle. Self-care also means that you’ll be less dependent on the care of your doctor, freeing up waiting rooms for those with greater need.
Boosting low life expectancy through self-care
Living a healthier lifestyle is one way you can boost your life expectancy. Many of the choices you make can help reduce the likelihood of developing different illnesses and diseases which are preventable. Some of the ways you can help to improve your self-care include:
A healthy diet helps prevent many illnesses, helping to boost your immune system and maintain a healthy weight. Overeating and eating too many of the wrong foods could lead to obesity, which in turn can cause diabetes, heart disease and even increase your risk of certain types of cancers.
Exercise can help keep your weight within a healthy range, while also strengthening your muscles and improving your cardiovascular health. It’s never too late to start improving your fitness, and the NHS Choices website has a fantastic online fitness studio which has exercises from beginner level up. This is an ideal way to improve your fitness over time. Start working towards your recommended 150 minutes of exercise a week to help you stay in shape.
Take care of your mental health
Your mental health is as important as your physical health, so make sure that self-care applies there too. Remember to take time to yourself, to sleep better and to relax. If you are suffering from mental health issues, be sure to talk to someone about how you’re feeling to ensure you get the help you need.
Treat yourself at home
The NHS is overstretched with an increasing number of patients walking through hospital and GP doors. However, many of the appointments made are for conditions that could be treated at home. Practice some self-care by visiting your pharmacist to get help with colds, allergies and minor injuries. Make sure you always cancel unnecessary appointments to allow other people to book them, and to cut down on the number of appointments wasted each year.
Taking care of your own health is important, and there are a number of resources out there to help you maintain better self-care. Explore NHS Choices to get health information on all sorts of topics that will help you to practice better self-care and potentially increase life expectancy too.