Street-Porter extolling the benefits of a healthy lifestyle

Broadcaster and columnist Janet Street-Porter prides herself on living a healthy lifestyle and wants to encourage as many of the ageing population as possible to do the same.

The 77-year-old developed shingles twice in her 40s and 50s, an infection caused by the same virus responsible for chickenpox and urged anyone to take precautionary steps to decrease their risk.

In a new 2024 survey commissioned by GSK for Shingles Awareness Week, among adults aged 60+ who had heard of shingles, 85% of those asked said that staying healthy as they get older is ‘very important’ to them, but the number of people taking specific measures to remain healthy are in some cases significantly lower.

With a one in four lifetime risk of developing the infection, Street-Porter is using her own experiences to inform and educate on the benefits of ageing healthily.

“It was so painful, and you don’t just forget that experience of being in pain. It was searing, you cannot think about anything else whatsoever.

“85% of people say they want to be healthy, but they have not connected the dots between being healthy and their lifestyle.

“It is not my job to go around being bossy to people but I think there is a direct link between eating less processed food, exercising and building up your immune system.

“Shingles knocks you right down, you can’t move, you can’t do anything, it sticks around for ages and then I got it again years later which is very unusual so I would urge people to raise their general level of health.”

Street-Porter joined forces with Olympic legend Sir Steve Redgrave for Shingles Awareness Week, who is also prioritising healthy living and strengthening his immune system.

The pair also make sure to check their eligibility for NHS vaccinations. The National Immunisation Programme expanded in September 2023 which increased access to the shingles vaccine, including to those turning sixty-five and those over 50 with a severely weakened immune system. Anyone aged 70-79 is also eligible.

The TV personality is raising awareness of the changes to ensure people reduce their risk of reactivating the virus that left her unable to concentrate on her work in the studio.

She said: “The idea of presenting something or writing something with that going on is unthinkable, you cannot think about anything else and it’s utterly debilitating.

“It’s so important for people who have a weakened immune system because it protects them, the thing about shingles is, it lays you so low that you’re vulnerable to other infections.”

In the 2024 survey, only half said they do regular exercise while just 59% visit their doctor if they have any symptoms, they are worried about.

The incidence of shingles increases with ageing, particularly in adults 50 years of age or older, and in those with a weakened immune system.

Street-Porter added: “In terms of exercise and healthy eating, people should set themselves little realistic goals that they can achieve.

“One of the reasons I want to highlight the NHS shingles immunisation programme is that having had shingles, I would not wish that on anyone.

“If you’re eligible for a vaccine that helps to prevent you from going through the experience that I had, I would really whole-heartedly recommend it.”

Get Shingles Ready is a campaign by GSK supported by Steve Redgrave and Janet Street-Porter. For more information visit

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