As we get older the body’s tissues and organs start to work less efficiently. We have to work harder and harder to stay fit and active. But keeping well is also about anticipating what’s increasingly likely to go wrong, and taking steps to prevent harmful events from happening. This may mean not just eating the right foods and taking regular exercise, but also changing your living environment and watching out for possible dangers.

Preventative tactics are particularly important because our health doesn’t just decline in a gradual way. Instead what’s often more important is a step - by - step decline on top of a slow deterioration in health. Every so often we have a major illness or event from which we never quite recover to previous levels of fitness. The most common causes include:

Infections. Broken bones. Cancers. Conditions or diseases requiring an operation.

As we get older we have more and more of these acute episodes of illness and drop further and further back down the scale of general health. If we could dodge the acute illness we could stay well for longer even as ageing takes a general toll.

Graph showing how our biological function causes our health to deteriorate