The days of feeling over the hill at 50, 60 or even 70 are long gone. For old age now doesn't begin until you're 76, research suggests.

Today's typical over-50 feels at least four years younger than their actual age, with one in four feeling ten years younger thanks to improved health.

Better diets and more exercise have contributed to a fitter older generation, according to a survey.

One in five over-50s exercise more now than they did when they were younger, while at least half admit to being more careful about what they eat and drink as they age.

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Losing independence is the biggest worry for those approaching old age - which starts at 76, according to the survey of almost 1,200 men and women over 50 for the retailer Argos.

Almost a third said they worried about one day needing help to get around, while 12 per cent did not want to face a time when they could no longer exercise.

Argos spokesman Amy Whidburn said: "More people than ever want to stay healthy and fit for as long as possible so they are active and taking steps to look after themselves."