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Expand your IELTS Vocabulary – Health

Welcome to the fifth and final part of our blog series on expanding your IELTS vocabulary. In the previous posts, we talked about how to create relevant vocabulary sets on the themes of education, transportation, environment and travel. Today, we’ll be focusing on the topic of health.

Vocabulary sets related to health

On the IELTS test, the topic of health tends to focus more on the aspects of fitness, nutrition and healthy habits, as opposed to illness or other medical conditions. For example, in the Speaking module, you could be asked to describe your own exercise habits and lifestyle or talk about the importance of keeping a healthy way of life in modern society. As for the Writing module, you may need to explore common issues related to health (e.g. obesity) and suggest solutions to these problems. Or you might have to elaborate on options that governments or others can do to help people achieve good physical and mental health.

Healthy lifestyle

part of speech
common collocations
strong, healthy and good at sports
athletic person/individual, athletic body, athletic type, be athletic, look athletic, athletic prowess (great athletic skills)
I’ve never been the athletic type – I’m just really bad at sports.

a series of physical exercises
good workout, hard/vigorous workout, light workout, thirty-minute/one-hour workout, have a workout
Every time I have a good workout, I feel refreshed and energized.
the ability to make yourself do something to achieve a goal
require self-discipline, gain/build/develop self-discipline
For most people, leading a healthy lifestyle requires a lot of self-discipline.
/ self


part of speech
common collocations
balanced diet
a combination of the right types and amounts of food
have a balanced diet, healthy and balanced diet
Having a healthy and balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health.
/ˌbæl.ənst ˈdaɪ.ət/

nutritional (also nutritive)
containing a food substance your body needs
nutritional value, nutritional advice, nutritional supplements
What a lot of people don’t know is that fruit juices usually have very little nutritional value.

made of plants (or mainly of plants)
plant-based diet, plant-based foods
Plant-based diets are becoming more and more popular around the world.

Health problems

part of speech
common collocations
the condition of being extremely fat or overweight
childhood obesity, cause/contribute to obesity, prevent obesity
I believe that more should be done to tackle the problem of childhood obesity.

harm or damage to the body due to an accident or an attack
serious/severe injury, receive/sustain an injury, avoid/escape (without) injury, recover from an injury
I was unable to do any physical exercise for over a year due to a severe back injury.
involving little physical activity
sedentary lifestyle, sedentary job/occupation
I used to lead a very sedentary lifestyle, but not anymore.


part of speech
common collocations
health insurance
insurance for the cost of medical care
offer/provide health insurance, have health insurance, health insurance benefits, health insurance plan
One of the biggest challenges nowadays is to find ways to provide proper medical care for people without health insurance.
/ˈhelθ ɪnˌʃɔːr.əns/

the use of exercises, drugs, etc. to cure a person of an illness or injury
get/have/receive treatment, need/require treatment, benefit from/ respond to treatment, treatment for (something),
She responded well to treatment and is now fully recovered and walking again.

preventive (also preventative)
meant to stop something before it happens
a preventive measure, preventive medicine, preventive care, a preventive remedy, preventive (health) care
Many people choose to ignore the many benefits of preventive care, simply because they’re too busy to think about their own health.

If you think you may want to talk about an important medical experience you’ve had, then it might be a good idea to create a vocabulary set for ‘at the hospital’, ‘at the doctor’s office’ or something relevant to your experience. However, rest assured that you won’t need any specific medical vocabulary in order to answer any of the questions on the IELTS test.

Idioms related to health

Just as with other common IELTS themes, using idioms related to health on your test can help you to show the examiner your range of vocabulary and your ability to use idiomatic expressions. Below are some idioms that you can use to talk about health:

to be/feel under the weather
feeling ill or unwell
You should be allowed to take the day off work if you’re feeling under the weather.
to be on the mend (UK)
to be in the process of recovering from an illness or injury
I was feeling unwell for the last couple of weeks, but I’m on the mend now.
to work up a sweat
to sweat due to physical activity
What I like most about yoga is that it allows you to focus on your breath and mind, and not just on working up a sweat.

Don’t forget to keep adding to your vocabulary sets so that this approach to learning new vocabulary for your IELTS is truly relevant to you. If you feel like you need to extend your vocabulary on themes other than the ones presented to you in this series, go ahead and do it! Now you have the necessary tools to create your own vocabulary sets from scratch. Focus on topics and vocabulary that you’re likely to use on your test, and remember to keep a vocabulary notebook so that you can keep revising your sets while preparing for your IELTS.

Cropped shot of an By Andrea Castro

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