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Residents walking through Danson Park

Top tips for healthy living

eat wellThere are a number of ways that you can help yourself to stay healthy. Even small changes can improve your health and cut your risk of illness.


Stop smoking

We know it can be a big step to give up smoking. If you do decide to stop, you can reduce the risk of developing cancer and improve your general health. Smoking is a significant risk factor for a wide range of cancers, as well as being a direct cause of nine out of ten cases of lung cancer.

Quitting isn’t easy and you have to do it when you feel ready, but with support from the Smokefree Bexley, you are four times more likely to succeed. You can find out more about the risks associated with smoking and how you can get support by contacting the Smokefree Bexley helpline on 0800 783 2514, email: or follow them on Twitter: @SmokefreeBexley or Facebook


Cut down on alcohol

There is strong evidence which indicates that too much alcohol increases your risk of several cancers. It can also make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. 

Department of Health guidelines advise that men should limit their intake to between three and four units of alcohol per day. Women should limit their intake to between two and three units. A unit of alcohol is equal to about half a pint of normal strength lager, cider or bitter, a standard glass of wine or 25ml of spirits.

Do you know your limits? Find out how to calculate the units of alcohol in your drink by using the NHS DrinkCheck.

If you would more advice on how you can reduce your alcohol intake, visit the sensible drinking section of the website.


Eat a balanced diet

Making sure you eat a wide range of  wholesome fresh foods is another way to keep your weight constant, as well as making sure you get the nutrients you need.

Try to eat at least five portions of different fruit and vegetables each day and choose  fresh produce rather than processed and pre-prepared ready meals. Try to eat different foods over the week, rather than having the same thing every day for breakfast or lunch- this will ensure you are getting a range of vitamins and your body does not develop intolerances to food that you tend to eat too often.

Also try to avoid foods that are high in saturated or trans fast, salt or sugar and those that contain artificial flavouring and additives (like E numbers).

For more advice on eating a balanced diet go to the eat well section or the good food section of  the NHS website


Keep active

Taking regular exercise is essential to good mental and physical health. It helps combat stress, heart problems or depression and exercise allows to you maintain a stable weight.

Exercise doesn’t have to be hard work or limited to the gym. Walking, swimming, pilates and yoga or even housework and gardening are all excellent forms of moderate activity. Try to aim for 30 minutes a day of exercise that leaves you slightly out of breath but still able to hold a conversation. As your fitness increases, you will find that you have to work harder to become out of breath and this in turn will increase your fitness level.

If you would like more advice about being physically active go to the keeping active section of the website.


Maintain a healthy weight

Being overweight can increase your risk of developing cancer, heart disease and strokes. If you are concerned about your weight, your GP should be able to provide you with information and support in finding a healthy weight for you. Click here to calculate your BMI. If you’re committed to losing weight, speak to a Bexley Health Trainer for free support and advice to meet your goals.


Look after your sexual health

Using condoms during sex will protect you from most sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including Chlamydia and HIV. Condoms are available for free from family planning clinics and sexual health clinics. If you are concerned about your sexual health, speak to your GP in confidence. Or if you feel uncomfortable doing this, a number of other local services offer confidential advice, information and screening for STIs.

For more information and advice see the sexual health section.


Get screened

Bowel cancer screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage, when treatment is more likely to be effective. Men and women aged between 60 and 69 are automatically sent a test kit to be completed at home, once every two years.

Breast screening is a method of detecting breast cancer at a very early stage. Women aged between 50 and 70 are automatically invited for a free breast x-ray (mammogram) every three years.

Cervical screening is not a test for cancer. It is a way of checking the health of a woman's cervix (the neck of the womb) to prevent cervical cancer. Women aged between 25 and 49 are automatically invited for free cervical screening every three years. Those aged between 50 and  64 are invited every five years. 


Manage your stress levels

There area number of ways we can enhance our mental wellbeing and reduce our vulnerability to mental illness. Do you feel stressed or overwhelmed at work or due to personal issue? Take the stress test


Stay sun safe

Most cases of skin cancer are caused by damage from UV (ultraviolet) rays in sunlight. Sun beds also emit UV rays that damage your skin. Taking care to cover up in the sun and not using sun beds can cut your risk of developing cancer. For more information about staying safe in the sun please visit the sun safety section of the NHS website.