Health Proverbs, Idioms & Phrasal Verbs

Health Proverbs, Idioms & Phrasal Verbs

Good health is above wealth.

English proverb

The importance of good health has been promoted for centuries. That’s why there are so many sayings about health in all languages. Here are just a few examples: cure by food is better than cure by medicine (Chinese proverb), a man with a cough can’t conceal himself (African proverb), one day in perfect health is much (Arabic proverb). In English there are many wise health proverbs too. Let’s learn some of them and, most importantly, try to remember their wisdom in our everyday life and apply the simple rules.

Health Proverbs

  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Meaning: eating an apple each day can help you stay healthy.
  • Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. Meaning: get enough sleep and start work early in the day to have a successful life.
  • Health is not valued till sickness comes. Meaning: people tend to take good health for granted until they fall ill.
  • Prevention is better than cure / an ounce [auns] of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Meaning: it is better to stop something bad form happening than it is to deal with it after it has happened.
  • A stitch in time saves nine. Meaning: it is better to act immediately because things may get worse.
  • You are what you eat. Meaning: it is important to eat good food to be healthy.
  • 7 days without exercise makes 1 week. Meaning: don’t postpone doing sports.
  • A tri [traɪ- ]/[trɪ- ]/[triː-] -color meal is a good deal. Meaning: eat red, yellow and green fruits and vegetables.

Proverbs are words of wisdom, and using them appropriately makes a very good impression and helps you sound convincing and natural. Idioms are another way to achieve this goal.

Health Idioms

Text 1:

Jane had been feeling under the weather for a few weeks. One day she came to work looking like death warmed over and all her colleagues told her to take sick leave* and recharge her batteries. After one day at home, she no longer felt off-color and very soon she knew she was on her road to recovery. She was happy to be on the mend. By the end of the week, she returned to work as fit as a fiddle, and she’s been as right as rain ever since.

*Note that we don’t use the article “a” before “sick leave.” Leave is an uncountable noun, so you’d say I’m on sick leave, I’m going to apply for childcare leave, etc. However, it’s correct to say I took a week’s sick leave because “a” refers to the word week and means one. In other words, the person was on sick leave for 1 week.

Remember the idioms from the text:

  • To feel under the weather – to feel ill
  • To look like death warmed over (American English) / to look like death warmed up (British English) – to look very ill
  • To recharge one’s batteries – to rest so that you can get your energy back
  • To feel off-color – to feel slightly ill
  • To be on the road to recovery – to be recovering (from sth.)
  • To be on the mend – to be recovering
  • To be as fit as a fiddle – to be very healthy
  • To be as right as rain – to be healthy again
I just want to be as right as rain.

Health Phrasal Verbs

Text 2:

I understood I had put on weight** when my pants started to feel a bit tight. But when I couldn’t do up the jacket, I knew right away that it was time to turn over a new leaf. I mentioned this to a friend and she sent me details of an Internet dieting program. I though it was a good idea and signed up for it. The website sent me weekly recipes [‘resɪpɪz] of healthy diet meals, but also recommended that I should cut down on the actual portion size and cut out junk food and fizzy drinks. It was hard going at first but I kept to the diet very rigidly and soon the weight started to fall off. I combined it with working out at the gym and the result was great. A normal meal now fills me up. Next week I’m going on holiday, happy to show off my new image! I’m glad I faced up to my problem.

**Note that the opposite of “put on” in this context is “take off“, not “put off.” So, you can say, “I’m trying to take off weight” or “I’m trying to lose weight”, for example.

Remember the phrasal verbs from the text:

  • To put on weight – to gain weight
  • To do up the jacket – to button or zip the jacket
  • To turn over a new leaf – to start behaving in a better way
  • To sign up for something – to arrange to do a course, join a group, etc. by adding your name to a list of people doing it
  • To cut down on something – to eat/drink/use less of something
  • To cut out something – to stop eating/drinking something
  • It was hard going – it needed a lot of effort
  • To keep to the diet – to stick to the diet
  • To fall off – to decrease in quantity or quality
  • To work out – to exercise
  • To fill someone up – (of food) to make someone feel completely full
  • To show something off – to show people something you are proud of
  • To face up to something – to accept and deal with something that is difficult
This task is hard going.


Click the link here and choose the right word to complete the proverbs.

Click the link here and choose the right word to complete the sentences.

Click the link here and choose the right particle to complete the sentences.

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