Bill Roache: ‘This has worked for me’ – how star uses exercise to avoid health problems

Bill Roache reveals secret to staying healthy on BBC Breakfast

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In a special documentary airing tonight on ITV, the star’s life and career is celebrated, looking back on his legacy and achievements. The film also follows him on set as beloved character Ken Barlow, and in his Cheshire home in the build up to his special birthday, which will take place on April, 25. Despite approaching a momentous age, in 2018, Roache himself said that “ageing is a relief system”, going on to say that he is open to living until the age of 120. Having “barely had a serious illness” in his entire life, it is easy to see why the actor strives to live for as long as possible. But what things does he credit for his good health?

“I once had a small duodenal ulcer that burst and I lost four pints of blood because it had gone straight on to an artery, but that was soon healed and I’ve had no problems since,” Roache explained, opening up about his previous health ailments.

“My hearing has not been good but that’s nothing to do with age. It’s the result of an accident when I was 21 and in the Army.

“I was on a three-inch mortar training course in Chiseldon, Wiltshire, when a bomb detonated close to where I was standing, which left me totally deaf for around three weeks.

“I lost 50 percent of my hearing, but I’ve learned to live with it. When my eyesight began to deteriorate, I went to an optician, who said, ‘How old are you?’ I replied, ‘45,’ and he said, ‘That’s what it is.’

“I decided it wasn’t that. And I got a book, Better Eyesight Without Glasses, and started exercising my eye muscles as it suggested. I could feel those muscles working, and I delayed my need for glasses by 12-15 years.”

Although Roache was luckily able to delay his need for glasses, his problems with hearing loss remained. Having coped with 50 percent of his hearing from a young age, for others, hearing loss can be a common problem caused by ageing.

The National Institute on Ageing (NIH) estimates that one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing. If ignored these hearing problems can get worse over time.

The signs that an individual is gradually losing their hearing due to old age include:

  • Having trouble hearing over the telephone
  • Finding it hard to follow conversations when two or more people are talking
  • Often asking people to repeat what they are saying
  • Needing to turn up the TV volume so loud that others complain
  • Having a problem hearing because of background noise
  • Thinking that others seem to mumble.

Sudden hearing loss, like the type Roache suffered from is usually caused by damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve. Continuing to explain his remarkable talents for overcoming any health related problem that has presented itself over the years, he added that he drinks alcohol in moderation, having only the “odd glass” of brandy on special occasions.

He went on to say: “Smoking is really, really bad for your health. I say this as someone who smoked about 40 a day, up to the age of 40. To give it up, I made myself watch films about lung cancer.”

The star also revealed that he attends regular “fun fit” sessions, a one hour session comprising a multitude of activities, ranging from basketball to boxing.

The actor added: “It gets the heart rate up and raises a sweat. I’ve found all this has worked for me.” In a more recent interview, Roache said that he still attends these sessions, marking them as the secret to keeping fit.

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.”

As well as exercise, when speaking to former This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes 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.

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.

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.

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