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Bill Roache health: Coronation Street actor, 89, says 'stress' is 'worst thing' for health

Life & StyleBill Roache health: Coronation Street actor, 89, says 'stress' is 'worst thing' for health


Having been in the popular ITV soap since it’s first episode on December, 30, 1960, Roache still has no plans to retire, explaining to both Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield that is partly due to his “positive attitude” that allows him to carry on acting as Ken Barlow. Delving deeper into other things that have kept him in remarkably good health and able to overcome any ailments, Roache said that he goes to an exercise class known as “fun fitness” once or twice a week.

Talking about the classes, the actor said: “What’s amazing about that is you’ve got five-year-old [children going] up to me and the exercises are appropriate for everybody. It’s like playing tag at school or something.”

Intrigued by his level of fitness, Willoughby replied: “Keeping active like that is so important and that seems to be what your life looks like. There’s no slowing down.”

Explaining more about his fitness classes, the actor said that he does a range of activities including basketball and boxing, which work to increase his heart rate and raise a sweat.

He added: “It’s not like going to the gym and doing a heavy serious workout. It’s called fun fit for a reason. We play games like tag zombies. It’s like a form of school game, you’re chasing around. We’re doing things that we enjoy all the time. It’s good to be together.”

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Roache continued to say: “There’s certainly basics to life like eating enough vegetables and drinking enough water, getting enough exercise, those things.

“But I think probably the worst thing is stress. If you listen to the news and read the papers, there’s not much joy around, is there?

“If you can enjoy yourself and find the joy in whatever you do, it makes such a big difference.”

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention explain that it is important for older adults to remain physically active in order to prevent or delay many health problems that seem to come with age.

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In fact, exercising can help to reduce the risk of early death by up to 30 percent. The NHS adds that physical exercise is not only a great way to lose weight, but also to reduce an individual’s risk of major illnesses such as:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer.

In addition to physical illness, research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, clinical depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Due to this, adults over the age of 65 are recommended to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week. This could include brisk walking, or cycling. At least two days a week, individuals should aim to do activities that strengthen the muscles and at least three days a week exercises that improve balance.

For any type of activity to benefit your health, you need to be moving quick enough to raise your heart rate, breathe faster and to feel warmer. If working at a moderate intensity, individuals should still be able to talk but you won’t be able to sing the words to a song.

As well as exercise, when speaking to former This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes back in 2019, Roache said that lifestyle and dietary choices are also extremely important for staying healthier well into your old age.

The star urged viewers to make sure they are getting enough sleep, to stay away from food with chemicals and take things in moderation, whilst also encouraging individuals to try the “discipline” of meditation, in order to rid any stress or worries.

Many studies have researched how meditation may be helpful for a variety of conditions, such as high blood pressure, certain psychological disorders, and pain, with some suggesting that the practice can help to ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), insomnia and anxiety and depression.

Although there are many types of meditation available for individuals to try, the National Institute for Health (NIH) explains that most have four elements in common. These include:

  • A quiet location with as few distractions as possible
  • A specific, comfortable posture (sitting, lying down, walking, or in other positions)
  • A focus of attention (a specially chosen word or set of words, an object, or the sensations of the breath)
  • An open attitude (letting distractions come and go naturally without judging them).

Remarkably, in a 2012 study, researchers compared brain images from 50 adults who meditate and 50 adults who don’t meditate. Results suggested that people who practised meditation for many years have more folds in the outer layer of the brain. This process (called gyrification) may increase the brain’s ability to process information. In addition, in a 2013 review of three studies, it was concluded that meditation may slow, stall, or even reverse changes that take place in the brain due to normal ageing.

As Roache mentioned previously, long-term stress can cause serious effects on the body. At first symptoms of stress may not be easy to recognise, but it may cause physical, mental and behavioural symptoms. One of the systems in the body that can be affected by stress is the respiratory system, which supplies oxygen to cells and removes carbon dioxide. Stress and strong emotions can present with respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath and rapid breathing, as the airway between the nose and the lungs constricts.

Chronic stress, or a constant stress experienced over a prolonged period of time, can also contribute to long-term problems for heart and blood vessels within the cardiovascular system. In the short-term when stress strikes, an individual’s heart rate increases and stress hormones such as adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol also rise, acting as messengers for these effects.

For those with chronic stress, the consistent and ongoing increase in heart rate, and the elevated levels of stress hormones and of blood pressure, can take a toll on the body. This can increase the risk for potentially life-threatening conditions such as hypertension, heart attack, or stroke.



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