Health is an essential aspect of life and an important topic in the IELTS Speaking test. In the test, you may be asked questions about fitness, health, staying well and looking after yourself. This topic encompasses a wide range of themes from sport, to diet, to health and how to educate people about being more healthy. You need a great range of specific and high-level vocab to score high marks and be confident in your test.
IELTS Speaking Vocabulary: Health
health – the physical and mental condition of the body and the extent to which it is free from illness or injury
fitness – the state of being physically fit and healthy.
Health Vocabulary Set 1: Health
healthy diet – mainly eating food that is nutritious and cutting down on sugar and fat.
– Eating a healthy diet can help prevent illness and disease.
health problems (or health issues) – situations where the body is suffering from illness, injury or disease.
– An unhealthy lifestyle can lead to many health problems in old age.
– Smoking and drinking excess alcohol can lead to many serious health issues.
health risk – any factor that exposes a person to the increased chance of experiencing illness, injury or disease such as poor nutrition, alcohol or drug consumption, unsafe water, poor hygiene and sanitation, unsafe sex.
– Binge drinking is a significant health risk and can have many long and short-term consequences.
ill health – suffering from some form of physical or mental illness or disease.
– He had been suffering from ill health for several months before he died.
poor health – the general state of not being in a good condition of health.
– The refugees arrived in a state of poor health having had little food or water for many weeks.
unhealthy – harmful to health or not having good health.
– Smoking is a really unhealthy habit.
– I read in a magazine article that it’s unhealthy to eat too much red meat.
health scare – a state of alarm or anxiety caused by concern about the risk of developing or being diagnosed with a particular illness or condition.
– Suffering chest pains while playing in the park with his kids was a real health scare and prompted him to lose weight and get fitter.
good health – the general state of being in a good condition of health.
– Despite celebrating his 90th birthday, Peter had no medical problems and was in remarkably good health.
healthy lifestyle (or unhealthy lifestyle) – a way of living that contributes to good health and well-being.
– Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
– His excessive weight and the fact that he gasped for breath when he walked were clues to his unhealthy lifestyle.
health care – the services provided by governments or organisations for the treatment of illness, injury, disease and to maintain well-being.
– Many governments cannot afford to provide free health care for their people.
health education – education that promotes an understanding of how to maintain personal health.
– Basic health education is vital if child mortality in rural African communities is to be reduced.
health-conscious – to be concerned about how your diet and lifestyle are affecting your health and take an active interest in maintaining good health.
– After his sister died young of heart disease, Bill became far more health-conscious and made changes to his lifestyle and diet.
health benefit – the positive effect on a person’s health gained from food, activity, medical treatment or therapy.
– Eating fruit and vegetables has many health benefits.
mental health – the state of a person’s emotional and psychological well-being. The health of the mind.
– Stress or bullying at work can lead to serious mental health problems.
to look after your health / to take care of your health – to eat well, drink alcohol sensibly and take exercise.
– I believe I’m still able to enjoy an active life in my 80’s because I have always looked after my health.
to regain your health – to recover from illness or injury.
– Sunita was very ill with the flu but is gradually regaining her health.
Health Vocabulary Set 2: Fitness
regular exercise – to engage in physical activity often and consistently.
– Taking regular exercise helps to keep the body healthy.
vigorous exercise – intense exercise that causes sweating, heavy breathing and increased heart rate.
– Vigorous exercise helps to keep the heart healthy.
to be unfit– when the bodynot being in good physical condition, generally due to a lack of regular exercise.
– I gave up going to the gym six months ago and I’ve become very unfit.
prevent – To stop something from happening.
– Keeping fit can prevent a wide range of health problems from developing.
– Governments could contribute to the prevention of health problems by banning the advertising of unhealthy products such as fast food, alcohol and cigarettes.
in good shape – in good physical condition.
– My parents are both in their 70’s but are still in pretty good shape.
stay in shape – to take action to maintain good health and fitness.
– Eating healthily and taking regular exercise helps me to stay in shape.
out of shape – not in good physical condition.
– I got very lazy over the holidays and am really feeling out of shape.
get back into shape – to take action to improve your physical condition.
– I’ve taken up swimming to help me get back into shape after breaking my leg.
work out – to exercise in order to improve physical fitness and increase strength.
– Sally works out at the gym three times a week to help her stay fit and healthy.
Health Vocabulary Set 3: Food & Eating
diet – the type of food and drink a person usually eats and drinks.
– In many Asian countries, the staple diet includes lots of rice and vegetables.
diet– an eating plan where someone eats less and/or changes what they eat to lose weight and to become healthier.
– I’m going on a diet because I’m too fat to fit into my favourite dress.
balanced diet – a combination of healthy types and amounts of food.
– Eating a balanced diet is important for staying healthy.
dietary habit – eating similar things regularly.
– Dietary habits are hard to change, especially for people addicted to junk food.
dietary requirement – the correct types and amounts of food to maintain health which may vary from person to person depending on age and lifestyle.
– In many poor communities, people can’t grow or buy enough food to meet their basic dietary requirements and so they get ill.
comfort food – types of food that provide a feeling of well-being. They are typically sweet and high in calories.
– I always feel happier after eating a slice of chocolate; it’s such a great comfort food.
portion – the amount of food served to a person
– When I visited the US I was shocked at the oversized portions served in the restaurants. No wonder obesity is such a big problem over there.
additive– A substance which is added to food in order to improve its taste or appearance or to preserve it.
– I try to avoid food that is full of additives because I think they are bad for your health.
nutrients –a substance that provides the essential elements needed for living things to survive and to grow.
– Most fast food contains very few nutrients. I like to eat cook my own meals so that I can be sure they are nutritious.
binge drinking – drinking an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time or drinking to get drunk.
– There’s a worrying increase in binge drinking among young people in many societies today.
Food & eating idiom
you are what you eat– makes a connection between the food someone eats and the state of their health.
– I feel much better and have much more energy since I cut out junk food and started eating more healthily. I guess it’s true that “you are what you eat”.
Health Vocabulary Set 4: Health issues
overweight – to weigh more than is considered desirable or healthy.
– According to recent statistics, nearly 70% of the population of the UK is overweight.
obesity – the state of being extremely overweight.
– Obesity is now considered to be the most serious health issue facing the developed world.
– Being obese can contribute to developing type 2 diabetes.
diabetes – A serious medical condition in which the body cannot control the level of sugar in the blood.
– My father used to suffer from diabetes, but after following medical advice to cut sugar out of his diet, he is no longer diabetic.
overeating– eating more than your body needs.
– Overeating can lead to many serious health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.
allergy– a condition where a person becomes ill or develops skin or breathing problems due to eating certain foods or being near certain substances.
– Food allergies seem to be becoming more common and many people have developed an allergic reaction to nut, which can be fatal.
disease – an illness caused by infection or poor health.
– Chickenpox is a very common childhood disease.
addiction – the inability to stop doing or taking something that is harmful.
– Drug addiction destroys lives and contributes to soaring crime rates.
fall ill – to become sick or ill.
Chandra fell ill while on holiday but receive excellent care in the local hospital.
come down with (something)- to become ill, to catch a virus.
– My best friend came down with a heavy cold and didn’t feel well enough to come to my birthday party.
get over (when related to health)– to recover from being illness or injury.
– I was off work for three days last week with a chest infection but I’m getting over it now.
to be under the weather– to feel unwell.
– I was so looking forward to the new club’s opening night but didn’t really enjoy it as I was feeling under the weather.
back on your feet – to be healthy again after a period of illness or injury.
– It took my gran a while to get over the effects of her fall but she’s back on her feet again now.
to be on the mend – to be recovering after ill health.
– I suffered from depression after my brother was killed in an accident last year but I’m on the mend now and beginning to enjoy life again.
to make a speedy recovery–to recover quickly from an ill health.
– The doctors said that it was because he was so fit and healthy that he made a speedy recovery from the operation on his fractured shoulder.
road to recovery – the process of becoming healthy again.
– They didn’t think she’d survive the bout of pneumonia with her weak chest but she’s finally on the road to recovery.
clean bill of health – a decision by a doctor that a person is healthy.
– Tony changed his lifestyle after suffering from heart problems and has now been given a clean bill of health by his doctor.
fit as a fiddle – to be in very good health.
– I was fed up with feeling tired, full of aches and pains and always getting colds so I changed my diet and took up running. Now I’m as fit as a fiddle.
to feel washed out – to not have much energy after an illness.
I’m much better than I was but I’m still feeling washed out.
Health Vocabulary Set 5: HealthCare
GP– general practitioner (family doctor).
– My GP said that I am in great shape for my age.
to make an appointment – to arrange a time to see the doctor.
– I’ve made you an appointment with the doctor for 3.30 pm on Thursday.
a check-up–a physical examination by a doctor.
– Now that I’m over 50, I get a free annual check-up from mydoctor.
prescription – written authorisation from a medical practitioner for a patient to be issued with a medicine or treatment.
– The doctor gave her a prescription for antibiotics to help clear up her chest infection.
phone in sick– to call your workplace to explain that you won’t be attending work due to illness.
– He was so ill after eating the prawn curry for dinner that he had to phone in sick the following morning.
medical cover /medical insurance – insurance for the cost of medical treatment
– I was reluctant to pay for medical cover but was so glad I had when I fell ill with malaria after a holiday in the tropics.
immunisation – the process of making a person or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine.
– Mass immunisation programmes are highly effective in eradicating many common infectious diseases.
vaccine– a preparation of organisms administered to stimulate the body’s own immune system to protect the person against infection or disease.
– Modern flu vaccines are so effective that thousands of lives are saved every year in the UK and free vaccination is offered to everyone over the age of 65.
surgery – the process of cutting open the body and removing or repairing damaged parts.
– Sanchez had to undergo emergency surgery after suffering a heart attack.
operation – the act of surgery performed on a patient.
– My ankle fracture was so bad that I had to have an operation to repair it.
cure – to eradicate a disease or medical condition.
– Millions of children in the developing world die of common illnesses for which there are simple cures.
Health Vocabulary Set 6: Minor health problems & symptoms
symptom – a physical or mental change to the body that is caused by illness.
– Yang Li had many of the typical symptoms of flu including aching muscles and a high fever.
to catch a cold–to get a cold.
– There were lots of people coughing and sneezing on the tube this week so it’s hardly surprising that I’ve caught a cold.
a chesty cough–a cough caused by mucus in the lungs.
– Whenever I get a cold it nearly always develops into a chesty cough.
a runny nose–a nose that has mucus coming out of it.
– I hope that my runny nose is due to the cold weather and not a sign that I’m coming down with a cold.
a blocked nose–when the nose has excess fluid due to a cold.
– A blocked nose is one of the worse symptoms of a cold as it can make it difficult to breathe.
a sore throat– when the throat isinflamed causing pain when swallowing.
– I find that a drink of honey and lemon helps to soothe a sore throat.
high temperature – when body temperature is high than the average body temperature ranges of 97°F (36.1°C) to 99°F (37.2°C); often a symptom of illness.
– When I was young, my mother only believed my story of feeling ill and not going being well enough to go to school if I had a high temperature.
to be sick / to vomit / to throw up – when the contents of the stomach are expelled through the mouth.
– Camilla’s two-year-old son ate six pieces of cake when she wasn’t looking and as then sick all over the kitchen floor.
– Jared drank far too much at the party and threw up on the way home.
diarrhoea – a condition where the body’s solid waste matter becomes more liquid than normal and is discharged from the body more often.
– Diarrhoea is considered a minor complaint in the developed world but in the developing world, around 1.5 million children a year dies of it mainly due to unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
splitting headache –a continuoussevere pain in the head.
– After a day of intense meetings with the boss and senior managers, Brigit went home with a splitting headache.
to pull a muscle– to overstretch or tear a muscle causing pain.
– Anatoly was favourite to win the 100 metres but fell to the ground in pain after pulling a muscle before reaching the finish line.
cuts and bruises–minor injuries. With cuts, the skin is torn but with bruises, it is not.
– Lucy got knocked off her bike cycling to work today and was lucky to get away with just cuts and bruises.
Other Health Vocabulary
1. to be prone to obesity
Meaning: to be likely to become fat [in an unhealthy way]
Example: Children who are addicted to watching television, instead of playing outdoor games, are more prone to obesity.
2. eating disorders
Meaning: problems that occur when people are unhappy with their bodies, and therefore eat far too much or far too little.
Example: Advertising tells women that they should have bodies like supermodel celebrities, and this sometimes leads to eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.
3. safe hygiene standards
Meaning: a safe level of keeping yourself, living areas or working areas clean in order to prevent illness and disease
Example: Maintaining safe hygiene standards in hospitals, homes and workplaces is a simple and inexpensive way to combat the spread of diseases.
4. to keep their teeth healthy
Meaning: to take care of their teeth by cleaning them regularly
Example: Advertisements encourage youngsters to brush their teeth several times a day in order to keep their teeth healthy.
5. to launch a full-scale investigation into sth
Meaning: to start an investigation completely or using all available methods, equipment, money, etc.
Example: Scientists are about to launch a full-scale investigation into the cause of the outbreak of the disease.
6. the outbreak of an epidemic
Meaning: a large number of diseases occurring at the same time in a particular community
Example: A lack of government programs for vaccination and regular health care may lead to the outbreak of an epidemic, particularly in developing countries.
7. sedentary lifestyle
Meaning: involving little exercise or physical activity
Example: A sedentary lifestyle is a major factor in health problems such as obesity and heart disease.
8. healthy eating habits
Meaning: eating healthy food at regular times of the day
Example: Health education involves teaching people about healthy eating habits, such as regular mealtimes and eating fruit and vegetables every day.
9. to take regular exercise
Meaning: to do some physical activity on a regular basis
Example: Authorities should encourage people of all ages to take regular exercise by providing facilities in each community.
10. a fitness regime
Meaning: a method or routine of taking regular exercise
Example: Even elderly people can adopt a fitness regime by taking light exercise such as walking or jogging.
11. health awareness campaigns
Meaning: publicity to encourage people to be concerned about looking after their health.
Example: Public health awareness campaigns are essential if people are to accept that they have a personal responsibility to look after their own health.
12. preventive medicine
Meaning: practices of healthcare intended to try to stop illnesses
Example: An emphasis on preventive medicine will result in a healthier population and reduced costs for medical treatment.
13. alternative healthcare
Meaning: this is a term used by many western countries to describe more traditional types of healthcare that do not involve operations and pharmaceutical drugs.
Example: Naturopathy is a form of alternative healthcare which treats illness and diseases using natural foods, herbs and other techniques.
14. public health services
Meaning: the agencies funded by the government to protect and promote the health of the population
Example: I would argue that funding for public health services should be the main priority of all governments.
15. to take out private health insurance
Meaning: to make regular payments to an insurance company, who will pay for medical or hospital treatment when you need it
Example: In countries with poor public health services, many people have to take out private health insurance in order to receive adequate medical treatment.
16. primary health care
Meaning: the medical treatment that you receive first when you are sick or ill, for example from your doctor or local clinic.
Example: Developing countries must allocate resources to establish primary health care clinics in rural areas and overcrowded city districts.
17. medical practitioner
Meaning: a person who works as a doctor or surgeon
Example: It is essential to train more medical practitioners if public health is to be improved.
18. to build up one’s immune system/ immunity
Meaning: to increase the ability of your body to fight diseases
Example: A healthy lifestyle and a diet rich in vitamins is a sure way to build up one’s immune system.
19. mental health problems
Meaning: related to illnesses of one’s mind
Example: Overwork may sometimes result in mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.
20. to offer emotional support
Meaning: to give counselling to a person who is suffering from a mental health problem
Example: Some schools in Europe now offer emotional support to pupils who are the victims of bullying.
IELTS Speaking Sample: Health
Try practicing your IELTS speaking skills with some of our sample IELTS questions below:
Speaking Part 1
Do you have any unhealthy habits?
Well, everyone is addicted to some habit which they try to change. And am one among them. My work priorities are such that I reach home around 8 pm. I feel lazy to cook, so I go to bed with an empty stomach or order a takeaway.
In what ways do you try to stay healthy?
I try to stay healthy by eating a well-balanced, low-fat diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Thereafter, I workout for a minimum of 40 minutes and meditate for 20 minutes. It is important for everyone to focus on the fitness level to stay healthy.
Is it easy to keep fit where you live?
Yes, it’s quite easier for me to stay fit where I live, because there are several fitness centers and gymnasiums located within the vicinity of my area where many individuals and middle-aged people come to workout.
What do you think is more important, eating healthy or doing exercise?
In my opinion, eating a healthy diet and exercise are quite essential for long-term weight loss and overall health care. We need to balance both food and exercise for healthy living. Therefore, a person must eat healthily and exercise regularly to achieve long-lasting results.
What are the health benefits of playing a sport?
There are several health benefits of playing a sport. Physical activity can give a better chance to build your muscles and burn fat. Sports can give physical fitness and as well mental strength. Active participation in physical activities and sports have a tremendous impact on the human body.
Have you ever had any habits which you consider to be unhealthy?
Well, there are many unhealthy habits that I would like to discard straight away. Some of them are procrastinating physical exercises, eating junk foods, taking irregular meals, and skipping breakfast or eating late at night.
Do you think more about your health now than when you were younger?
Of course! I do think about my health now more than when I was younger. During the school days, My mother was concerned about my health and even now she is. But now as I am working and staying in a hostel, it has all come up on me. Initially, I was careless and didn’t take care of myself. But, with time, I’ve realized the importance of health and ensure that I practice eating healthy foods and workout on a regular basis.
What are the health benefits of playing a sport?
I think playing sports benefit us both physically and mentally. When you play sports, you are giving your body time to build muscles, and burn fat. Therefore, you will be fitter and stronger. Also, you are giving your body time to relax. That’s why I enjoy working out so much.
Speaking Part 2
Describe a time when you were ill
You should say :
- when this was
- what your symptoms were
- how long the illness lasted and say how it affected your life at the time
Well, I’ve never been seriously ill, but I can remember a couple of weeks ago, I had taken leave for 3 days because I was under the weather.
I was walking back home from work and it suddenly started to rain cats and dogs, so I got wet. The next day when I woke up, I was a bit off-color. I still remember feeling poorly, even I got a headache, a sore throat, chesty cough, and a blocked nose. I decided to see my GP for a check-up. My GP said that I caught a heavy cold and had to take a lot of medicines. I was in charge of a project presentation at that time, and due to the situation, I had no choice but to phone in sick and reschedule the presentation until this week. But thank God, I was over the worst of it and made a speedy recovery after 3 days of suffering.
Vocabulary For Cue Card
Take leave: to use time permitted to be away from work
Eg: John has taken leave on half-pay.
To be under the weather: (informal) to not feel well
Eg: After returning from her vacation, she felt under the weather and took a leave from work.
Rain cats and dogs: rain heavily
Eg: It was raining cats and dogs.
A blocked nose: when the nose has excess fluid due to a cold
Eg: Rose has a sore throat and a blocked nose.
To be a bit off-color: to feel a little ill
Eg: John’s been a bit off-color for the past two days.
A sore throat: inflammation that causes pain when swallowing
Eg: Mary has a severe cold and a sore throat.
Chesty cough: a cough caused by congestion around the lungs
Eg: Since He’s a chain smoker, and has a chesty cough.
Catch a heavy cold: have a bad cold
Eg: Since I got drenched in the rain last, I had caught a heavy cold.
To be in charge of: take over something; responsible for something
Eg: The old man is in the charge of taking care of the mansion.
To phone in sick: to call work to explain you won’t be attending work due to illness
Eg: Rose has again called in sick today.
To be over the worst: to have got through the most serious or uncomfortable stage of an illness
Eg: The damage in his lungs seems to be over the worst
Made a speedy recovery: to recover quickly from an illness
Eg: The doctor wished John a speedy recovery.
Speaking Part 3
Do you think people pay enough attention to their health today?
No, I don’t think so. Nowadays, most people are leading a sedentary lifestyle where they don’t have enough time to look after themselves. They don’t pay attention to their diet and hardly workout. But there are a few self-conscious people who are aware of their health and prefer eating a healthy diet and doing some physical activities in their life to ensure they’re healthy.
What costs are involved when you are ill in your country?
In my country, the costs depend upon the kind of hospitals we prefer. There are government hospitals that are less expensive than private hospitals. In private hospitals, we have to pay a fortune to get our treatment done. However, it is up to us to choose the hospitals wisely.
Do you think most people worry more about their health as they get older?
Of course! In my opinion, once a person hits the 40s, they’re more likely to get signs of diseases and conditions like blood pressure, heart attack etc. So they become health-conscious and take precautionary measures.
How can people be encouraged to stay healthy?
One of the best ways a person can be encouraged to stay healthy is by talking to them about the health benefits. They can even promote health benefits through advertisements. People will get motivated and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
What are the most popular ways of keeping healthy in your country?
There are many ways to stay healthy and in my country, a majority of the youngsters prefer working out in gym and fitness center, while the middle-aged men and women prefer doing yoga, pilates, squats, and other exercises, and the old people prefer walking or jogging in the early morning to remain healthy.
Why do you think some people continue bad habits when they know that they are damaging to their health?
Although some people know that bad habits are damaging their health, they continue to follow them. This is because they have attached themselves to bad habits. As the saying goes ‘bad habits die hard’ it becomes difficult for the people to stop doing things that they’ve inculcated in their daily routine.
Do women pay more attention to their health than men?
Not exactly! Women in my country always pay more attention to the health of their husbands and kids rather than paying attention to themselves. But they make sure that they don’t involve themselves in bad habits that would have an impact on their health.
Do you think people have become more health-conscious in recent years?
Obviously, Yes! Nowadays, many people have become health conscious which is a positive sign. It may be because of the influence of their favorite actors who portray the importance of health benefits on television. Moreover, everyone wishes to live a long and illness-free life. So they have realized the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
How can children learn to have a healthy lifestyle?
Children should be taught to stay healthy from the day they start going to school. Moreover, they are influenced by people around them. So, as a society, we should adopt a healthy lifestyle which will influence the children. Instilling a healthy lifestyle in children can help in building the framework of healthy habits till the end of their life.
Do you think the government should promote a healthy lifestyle among the citizens?
According to me, yes, the government should promote a healthy lifestyle among the citizens by setting up campaigns about the awareness of chronic diseases. They can impose tax on junk foods, build a public park for the citizens to exercise in the morning, forecast a program and advertisement regarding the healthy lifestyle on TV and radio.
Would you say modern science and technology has more of a positive or a negative influence on people’s health?
There are various ways in which modern science and technology has helped the human race such as curing diseases through operations/surgeries. Modern Science has simplified the concept of health in daily life, by giving important details and opportunities for treatment quickly and accurately. Yet, there are some negative impacts of using these technologies. But they are minimal.
A Healthy Lifestyle and the Workplace
What would be the results of having employees who are not healthy?
If an employee is unhealthy, he may be a negative influence on the other employees. They may follow suit. As the saying goes “one bad apple may ruin the entire bunch”, the negative demeanor of the employee can affect the people around him. This would affect the company’s productivity, reputation, and profitability.
Do you think this might have an effect on the economy of the country?
Well, I think it might affect the economy of the country as health impacts economic growth in several ways. For example, it leads to production losses due to worker illness and increased absenteeism rates.
Do you think work stress is a health issue?
It may not exactly be called a health issue but work stress certainly has adverse effects on employee’s mental health such as decreased energy levels and insomnia. Employees stressed at work are found to engage themselves in unhealthy habits such as cigarette smoking, consumption of alcohol, and poor eating habits.
How could work stress be reduced?
Work stress can affect a person’s physical and emotional well-being. To reduce the work stress levels, a person can meditate for 10 to 15 minutes, organise and prioritize his tasks by making notes. He/She can form a healthy relationship with colleagues and talk to them or do a 5-minute exercise to relieve the stress. They can make it a practice to take a deep breath and start work in a calm and composed manner.
Vocabulary For Speaking Part 3
Health-conscious: concerned about how healthy one’s diet and lifestyle are.
Eg: My mother is health-conscious and she doesn’t allow me to eat junk food.
Precautions: a measure taken in advance to prevent something dangerous, unpleasant, or inconvenient from happening.
Eg: The government has taken several precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
Middle-aged: (of a person) aged about 45 to 65.
Eg: The CEO of our company is a middle-aged man.
Pay attention: take notice of someone or something.
Eg: The students paid attention to the teacher and made a note of it.
Influence: to cause someone to change a behavior, belief, or opinion
Eg: I was greatly influenced by the Minister’s speech.
Campaigns: an organized course of action to achieve a goal
Eg: The NGO members have decided to set up an awareness campaign next week.
Minimal: of a minimum amount, quantity, or degree; negligible
Eg: My car suffered minimal damage during the accident
IELTS Speaking Practice: Health
During the IELTS Speaking exam, you may be asked questions about health and fitness. Read the following IELTS-style questions and answers below, and pay attention to the phrases in bold. Use the ‘Definitions’ section at the bottom of the page to check the meaning of any phrases you don’t understand.
IELTS Speaking Practice 1
Part 1-style questions
Examiner: Have you got a relation you’re particularly fond of?
Sinita: Yes … my granddad … he’s 94 years old but generally he’s as fit as a fiddle … we’re very close and see each other a lot … whenever he goes down with a cold or is under the weather I make a point of visiting him …
Examiner: Do you do any sport?
Jon: Yes … I’m keen on skateboarding … but I haven’t done it for a while … I had a bad fall recently and pulled a muscle and had a few cuts and bruises … but I’m on the mend and hope to be doing it again soon …
Examiner: Is there anything you’re particularly afraid of?
Davide: The dentist … I hate going to the dentist … I only ever go if I have a toothache so it usually means I have to have a filling or even have a tooth out … I really don’t like it …
Part 2-style task
Describe a time when you were ill. You should say:
- when this was
- what your symptoms were
- how long the illness lasted
and say how it affected your life at the time.
Pierre: This is a tricky one really as I’m usually quite healthy … I’ve never been seriously ill … like everyone else I sometimes get a few aches and pains or catch a cold … I can remember a few months ago I had to have time off work with a heavy cold … I had the usual symptoms … a blocked nose … sore throat … it lasted quite a while … about 2 weeks I think though I didn’t have that much time off work … for a few days I remember feeling poorly but I was over the worst of itafter a few days and went back to work … I always find it’s better to be active when you feel ill as it keeps your mind off your symptoms … I think my family gets a little fed up with me when I’m ill though … I tend to feel sorry for myself and lie on the sofa all day as if I’m at death’s door … but as I said earlier … on this occasion, it was nothing serious and didn’t really cause me any problems …
Part 3-style questions
Examiner: What costs are involved when you are ill in your country?
Anya: Well … people have to pay prescription charges which can be quite expensive … but fortunately general healthcare is free … unless you want to go private of course and then you can pay a fortune for your treatment …
Examiner: In your experience are people too quick to take time off work when they’re ill?
Alicia: Yes .. I’ve got friends who have a day off work if they wake up with a runny nose … and in most cases, they seem to make a speedy recovery after they’ve phoned in sick …
Examiner: Do women pay more attention to their health than men?
Julie: I think so yes … women are more likely to see their GP for a check-up if they’re concerned about something … men tend to avoid facing up to any health problems they have … my dad always seems to have a very chesty cough but refuses to go to make an appointment to see the doctor …
aches and pains: minor pains that continue over a period of time
to be a bit off colour: to feel a little ill
to be at death’s door: (informal) to be very ill indeed
to be on the mend: to be recovering after an illness
to be over the worst: to have got through the most serious or uncomfortable stage of an illlness
to be under the weather: (informal) to not feel well
a blocked nose: when the nose has excess fluid due to a cold
to catch a cold: to get a cold
a check-up: a physical examination by a doctor
a chesty cough: a cough caused by congestion around the lungs
cuts and bruises: minor injuries
to feel poorly: to feel ill
as fit as a fiddle: to be very healthy
to go down with a cold: to become ill
to go private: to choose to be treated by commercial healthcare rather than by services offered by the state
GP: General Practitioner (family doctor)
to have a filling: to have a tooth repaired
to have a tooth out: to have a tooth removed
a heavy cold: a bad cold
to make an appointment: to arrange a time to see the doctor
to make a speedy recovery: to recover quickly from an illness
to phone in sick: to call work to explain you won’t be attending work due to illness
prescription charges: money the patient pays for medicine authorised by a doctor
to pull a muscle: to strain a muscle
a runny nose: a nose that has liquid coming out of it
a sore throat: inflammation that causes pain when swallowing
IELTS Speaking Practice 2
1) What do you do to stay healthy?
I eat a balanced diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and take some form of exercise every day. I also make sure that I get enough sleep.
2) Do you get ill very often?
Fortunately, I’m very healthy and rarely get ill, although I occasionally catch a cold in the winter.
3) Is there anything you’d like to improve about your fitness?
I really want to take up yoga because I often feel stiff after exercise and I think it would help. It would also make me more flexible and less likely to get injured when I work out.
4) Are you careful about what you eat?
I try very hard to have a healthy diet, even when I eat out at a restaurant. I rarely buy takeaways and when I go out with friends for fish and chips, I only have the fish with some peas.
5) How important is a healthy lifestyle for you?
It’s one of the most important things for me because I want to feel good and to enjoy life. If you don’t have good health then everything else in life is a struggle.
Describe a change you have made to improve your health and that you would recommend to others.
You should say:
- what it is
- why you decided to do it
- how you have benefitted from it
and explain why you would recommend it to others.
I often make changes to my lifestyle to try and look after my health but the one I’d like to tell you about is cutting down on how much meat I eat.
There’s been a lot of stuff in the media about how unhealthy it is to eat too much meat, especially red meat and processed meat. I was already fairly healthy and ate a balanced diet, but when I took up a new sport, which involved vigorous exercise, I started to think that maybe I should try to cut down on it a little. I was particularly concerned about the increased risk of heart disease and of having a stroke. I know a healthy diet can help to prevent these.
I started by cutting out meat one day a week and making a vegetarian meal instead. This was easy so I started doing it twice a week and then for three days. Soon I began to look forward to my non-meat days as I was discovering many delicious foods that I’d never tried before. I also started to eat more fish which has many health benefits.
Within two months I’d lost nearly half a stone in weight. Although I hadn’t actually had a weight problem, it was a nice surprise. Even better, my cholesterol level went down which I was especially pleased about. I certainly felt as fit as a fiddle. Many of my friends who still eat lots of red meat suffer from high cholesterol and I’m sure there’s a connection.
Over time, I’ve found that the less meat I eat, the less I want to eat, and I’m now down to just cooking meat dishes at the weekends. Maintaining this diet is made easier by the fact that I live on my own so can cook and eat whatever I want to without being influenced by anyone else. If I had to cook a chicken casserole or steak pie for my family I don’t think I’d be strong enough to resist eating it myself.
I don’t think I’ll ever cut out meat altogether as I enjoy it too much. I can say, however, that going partly vegetarian has definitely saved me money as meat has gone steadily up in price over the past few years. For this reason, as well as all the others I’ve mentioned, I would definitely recommend cutting down on meat.
1) Do you think people have become more health-conscious in recent years?
In my opinion, many people are more concerned about living a healthy lifestyle than, say, ten years ago and understand how to stay fit and healthy. Lots of adults of all ages go to the gym, cycle to work, jog in their spare time or have taken up a sport. The shops seem to offer more healthy eating options every week so the demand is obviously there.
On the other hand, I heard on the news that over 70% of the population of my country is overweight so most people aren’t taking good care of their health. There are lots of programmes on TV about health problems related to obesity and how to change your life and get healthier, so I have to conclude that people are more conscious of health issues these days but that many choose to do nothing to improve them.
2) Why do some people choose to live unhealthy lives?
As someone who tries hard to live healthily, I find it hard to understand why many people chose unhealthy lifestyles. Personally, I think they are in denial over the long-term damage to their health of eating and drinking too much and not taking enough exercise. In many cases, it’s just laziness.
However, I do believe that there are some people who really do want to lose weight and get fit but find it very difficult to change their dietary habits or find the motivation to exercise. I have a work colleague who was so overweight and unfit that he couldn’t play football with his children. He was so upset by this that he went on a diet and started to take regular exercise. He lost over 40kg and is in really good shape now. More importantly, he can now run around with his kids and play football, which they really love.
Sometimes it takes a situation like this or a health scare for someone to make better health decisions.
3) What are the health benefits of playing a sport?
In my view, there are many great health benefits to be gained from taking part in sports activities. Firstly, it helps you to stay physically fit and healthy, and to lose weight if that’s a problem.
Secondly, it’s good for your mental health as it can help to relieve stress and improve work-life balance. I find this myself. I can have a really difficult day at work but when I go out training on the river with my rowing crew in the evening, that stress disappears.
Finally, playing a sport is an excellent way of making new friends as you meet like-minded people who share your interest. Having good friends around you is also good for your mental health. If you play a team sport, training with your teammates pushes you to get fitter, so that’s an added advantage, and it’s fun to work out together.
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