Most of us fear feeling old and getting fat, but these life changes are often seen as forgone conclusions – and it’s easy to say chirpily: “Well, if I’m fat when I’m old, at least there’s less chance of breaking a hip!”

However, there is much you can do to avoid feeling ancient and getting flabby, and as a result, you might just live to a grand old age with your hips intact.

A book by Dr Frank Lipman called 10 Reasons You Feel Old and Get Fat…and How You Can Stay Young, Slim and Happy! outlines how people can feel fine for years, then they hit their mid-40s and all of a sudden they develop a tummy, their joints start creaking, they’re always getting sick and their memory starts to go….

Many of us just accept it as part of the natural way of things. After all, it’s a fact that around this time of life, your body’s functionality is beginning to wane, which affects nerves, digestion, hormones, the immune system and brain function.

Add to that the fact it’s tougher to shift the weight as your body ages (hello heart disease and high blood pressure!), and you can basically sign yourself over to ‘natural deterioration’.

But it doesn’t have to be that way – and don’t go blaming your genetics either.

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Only 2% of the ageing process is down to what you’ve inherited, the remaining 98% you decide, based on how you eat, exercise, sleep and manage anxiety and stress. 

Here are some simple, practical steps that you can take to feel younger and look trimmer:

1. De-stress

We naturally develop wrinkles and frown lines as we age, but there’s no need to add to them (or your chances of having a heart attack) by being stressed. Make time for you (try a hot bath, a 20 minute spell of meditation or a good book), and let those anxieties fade away.

2. Cut down on sugar

Yep, the evil sweet stuff. It makes us chubby and sluggish, and rots your teeth, but it can also make you tired, grouchy and even forgetful. Cut it out to feel more energetic (like the young’uns) and more clear-headed.

3. Get intimate

Free and fun, sex is one of the best ways to stay in shape (it works all the muscle groups and is a sure fire way to burn calories), and feel youthful. Orgasms relieve stress, increase happiness levels (thanks to the release of endorphins), have been found to cut the risk of stroke and heart disease, and boost hormone production which can keep you looking young. It’s an all-round winner.

4. Avoid white flour

It’s second to sugar in the ‘bad for you’ stakes, along with processed foods. Eating copious amounts of white flour can increase the chances of developing diabetes. It lacks nutrients and fibre, and can easily be swapped for far healthier, tastier wholegrain types.

5. Go full-fat

You might feel virtuous choosing low-fat yoghurts and spreads, but you need fats in your diet. Also, low-fat items are often packed with sugar to make them taste better.

6. Be flexible

We’re so obsessed with muscle mass that we often forget about the ligaments, soft tissues and tendons that hold all those muscles (and bones) together. They need caring for too, especially as we age, and stretch less. Why not sign up to a low impact class like Pilates or yoga which both really boost flexibility, meaning tendons get the attention they deserve? Massage can help too.

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7. Feel strong

Beat feeling old and frail by getting strong. However weak you might think you are, there is a weight lifting programme out there for you, to help improve core strength and posture. This will help combat aching backs, shoulders and necks.

8. Work your mind

Staying active also means you’ll be keeping the flow of oxygen to your brain nice and steady, which keeps brain function at optimum levels, and gets your mind firing.

9. Take your vitamins

A couple of pills in the morning can really help boost your all-round health. Vitamin C keeps cells and connective tissues healthy, vitamin D is great for teeth and bones -as are calcium supplements - while cod liver oil capsules are good for supple joints. 

10. Stick with hobbies

Staying active isn’t just about hitting the gym, and neither is feeling young. It’s about continuing to do all the things you love. Be that cycling, walking the dog, reading a good book, checking out new restaurants, going to the cinema and trying new things. Life doesn’t have to get less exciting just because you’re getting older, even if you have to make more of an effort to get out there and stick at things.

11. Don’t forget to rest

To function properly, and to have enough energy to get you through the day, you need to get enough sleep, otherwise you’ll feel groggy, slow and, well, old. A good sleep pattern can also help regulate your metabolism.

Do you feel old? How do you stay in shape? Let us know in the Comments section below.