Hello My Lovely Friend
Now we in our midlife years, in this post I want to suggest 12 Ways To Stay Healthy After 50 so we can enjoy this next exciting stage of our life.
Enjoying A Fabulous Life Beyond 50
So, we’ve hit 50 and beyond. It would be so easy to panic (actually I did!) and although it’s perfectly natural to worry about getting older, I felt guilty for being such a wuss.
‘Wuss’ is an Australian colloquialism for being a wimp. I have absolutely no idea where the silly saying came from, but it was appropriate for me at the time.
OMG…the big 50!
Well, guess what…now I’m just over 60 and I can honestly say that, other than a couple of hiccups, the past 10 years have been a fascinating ride.
I guess a lot of this comes from finally reaching a stage in life where I’m comfortable in my own skin.
Apart from our generation’s life-experience and knowledge I’ve collected…I love the fact that I don’t give a flying f@%#*k about what people think anymore!
I really don’t understand why we worry so much about what people think of us when we’re younger, but it seems an all-consuming issue. Funny how things change with maturity!
But it’s so liberating to reach an age where I just don’t care enough about any naysayers to lose any sleep over it. I’m guessing…but I can imagine you relate to this. It seems to be a common thread in conversations with my friends.
However, along with the life wisdom and ‘sod-off’ attitude, come a few challenges and that’s what this post is about.
Let’s discuss them…
Getting Older Plays A Few Sneaky Games With Us
On the one hand, we’re so much more experienced, insightful and worldly, but on the other, our bodies don’t always want to play nicely anymore.
Let’s start with the ‘gravity’ issue, closely followed by the ‘I don’t want to work correctly anymore’ issue. Have you noticed that things start to go droopy…like the ‘girls’?
My previous bras no longer fit correctly. I found I was often uncomfortable and couldn’t wait to peel the blasted thing off the second I walked in the door at home. Even new ones annoy me.
Bet you can relate to this one!
I’ve become adept at removing it without taking my blouse off…a skill that still fascinates my husband even after all these years!
Then, there are my knees that don’t like going upstairs now. I’ve never injured them but they’ve decided to be difficult anyway!
Next, there’s the weight that seems determined to collect and take up permanent residency around my mid-section.
…I don’t remember inviting it!
And, what about suddenly finding that I can’t see a darn thing without glasses now, whereas 2 years ago I was fine.
Any of this sounding familiar?
There are obviously things we need to accept at our midlife, but there’s a lot we can do to offset it.
‘Cos I don’t know about you…but I’m NOT putting up with it!
So, here’s a list of 12 things we can do to ‘refuse to give in’ to issues relating to our age group and make these midlife years the best yet!
You need to do some physical activity each day.
Apart from the obvious benefits of staying fit due to exercise, there’s the added benefit of losing some weight. Even a 5% loss of body fat helps to improve mood, performance, and the quality of your life.
You don’t have to do a lot, but physical activity actually enhances your ability to have high energy levels so exercise becomes more important as you get older.
Osteoporosis can be an issue for both men and women as we get older, but it’s more common in women. This is where your bones become less dense and are more prone to break.
Osteoarthritis is also a condition that can affect us as we age, where the cartilage between our joints breaks down.
Both of these conditions can be exacerbated by Menopause in women and hormone therapy for Prostate cancer in men.
However, exercise goes a long way to keeping both these conditions at bay. As does taking calcium supplements which is strongly recommend by the medical profession now that you’re older.
Focus on weight-bearing exercises for muscle and bone health.
Eg, gym work, either free weights, kettle bells or resistance machines. Combine this with activities that raise your heart rate. But don’t overdo it. Remember, you’re not 30 anymore!
Half an hour of physical activity can improve your energy levels and lift your mood, particularly if you get yourself out in nature, somewhere green and relaxing.
You’ll find that getting through your day and enjoying all of the positive aspects of your life will be enhanced by simply setting aside a little bit of time each day to recharge your batteries.
Brisk walking, biking, gardening, aerobics, and dancing are all great options.
As is pilates, yoga, swimming, sex (yes, it’s very stimulating for the body and enhances your energy levels)
It’s super important to stay flexible
Joints and muscles stiffen as we get older. If you can regularly practice pilates, yoga, or any stretching exercises, they will help elongate your muscles, which in turn support your joints.
This in itself can help reduce the risk of injuries and falls we can be prone to as we get older…and broken bones don’t heal well later in life, so best to prevent them from happening at all.
You’ll continue to reap the benefits well into your advanced years. This also helps with balance…another problem that can arise as we get older.
Then there’s always walking (or running) with the dog…you’ll both love it!
If you don’t have a dog, do yourself a favor and get one.
Not only are they great company; give you unconditional love, and constantly make you laugh…they will help keep you fit as they just won’t leave you alone each day until you take them for a walk.
Then, there are those among us who are way more adventurous and athletic. Please continue showing us how life should be lived!… marathon anyone?
Kayaking (my personal fave), paddle boarding, rock climbing, windsurfing, sailboarding…it’s all available to us.
We’re not too old to take on these activities just because we’re 50 plus!
2. Regular Sleep
As we get older, various things can really disrupt sleep patterns, posing an increased risk of insomnia. Such as sleep apnea, hot flashes associated with menopause, too much caffeine and of course, worrying about too many issues. We seem to gather more of these with age.
I totally get this one!
Sleep has never been one of my strong suits. I have trouble shutting off the day’s events. I mull them over in the quietness of the dark bedroom…not the best way to spend my time.
This is common, particularly if we tend to watch TV, social media, or use a computer just before going to bed (guilty as charged!) It’s far too much brain stimulation just when you don’t want it.
Electronic Blue Light
The blue light emitted from electronic devices messes with your circadian rhythms which controls your sleep cycle. This signals to your brain to wake up when it should be winding down. It has also been linked to eye problems.
I’ve noticed that since I spend more time on the computer now then when I worked in my sales career, my eyesight has deteriorated more rapidly than I would have expected.
Both of these issues are exacerbated in this modern age where we tend to live on our phones and computers, and staying off them just isn’t a realistic solution is it?
There’s a great App called f.lux
This can be downloaded onto any iOS device for free.
(Note: It’s also available on Android BUT, you need a ‘rooted’ phone. Not a great idea. Maybe read up on this)
It gives off an increasingly orange glow from your screen as the evening progresses. This can be controlled so it’s more of a shade that you feel comfortable with. It can take some getting used to but cutting down the blue light in the evening can really help with sleep issues.
Another recommended solution is to cut out the use of all technology at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. This way your body can get into a better sleep pattern. YES…that will involve turning off Netflix!
I sleep lightly so the slightest noise wakes me. Being a digital nomad can be a big problem as we stay in different parts of the world.
Eg, we’ve lived in Vietnam for the past 16 months and Vietnamese people ride scooters everywhere at all times of the day and night. I could hear them coming for miles. Not to mention barking dogs, police sirens and noisy apartment neighbors.
Now we are in San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico with a stunning church on just about every corner. So church bells are obviously very common…lovely but can be big sleep disrupters.
Here’s a great tip I picked up from a seasoned traveler a few years back…
Try the little silicon earbuds used by swimmers to stop water from getting in their ears. They’re brilliant. Not the foam things you get on aircraft that you crumple into your ears only to have them uncoil and pop out.
Many drug stores or maybe Walmart will have these. Also try sports shops. These really work.
Too Much Light
For you, it may be that you need a completely dark room. This is the most common complaint for most people. Short of investing in heavy curtains try using an eyeshade for blocking out the light.
Personally, I use both an eyeshade and the ear plugs I mentioned…and I sleep like a baby no matter where we are, even on long plane flights.
Create A Bedtime Ritual
This is much more beneficial than it’s given credit for. Prepare your body for sleep. Reduce the load of your daily schedule where possible, especially when it comes to bringing work home.
Have a luxurious bubble bath, and if possible, go to bed at the same time every night.
PLUS, Have at least 30 minutes of NO technology before turning in. This is super hard I know, particularly with Netflix available.Try reading instead.
If all else fails, try a hot chocolate with a drop of brandy in it. Unusual, but still better than taking prescription sleep aids.
I can hear you now…”what the hell is she on about, how do I do that!”
There are 3 simple and effective ways to do this. Don’t panic, no Lotus position required, I promise…(unless you want to of course). Just ways to help calm your over-active mind. Try any or all to see which works best for you.
Having a nice hot bath or shower, that will keep you away from the TV and computer, and allow you to relax. Then sit or lie quietly somewhere comfortable.
Option One – Concentrate on your breathing.
I mean REALLY concentrate. Think about breathing in through your nose slowly, hold it for 5 seconds, then breathe out through your mouth with pursed lips.
Repeat this for about 10 minutes (you can start with 5 mins and build up)
Option Two – Lay flat on the floor (support your lower back with a rolled-up towel if you need to)
Start at your feet, and concentrate on telling them to relax. Move slowly up your body, ‘willing’ each body part to relax.
Focus and feel each part of you relaxing and breathe deeply while you do. Try not to let your mind wander.
Option Three – Listen to a Guided Meditation on your phone with earplugs.
Yes, this is the only technology you are allowed to use…and ONLY for this reason. I guarantee that you will feel more relaxed after trying any of these three options. Once again, really listen…no mind wandering.
3. Dealing With Midlife Depression
This is an issue many of us face and it’s very often a result of Menopause. The change in hormones plays havoc with our moods and emotions, not to mention the infuriatingly fluctuating body temperatures!
One side effect can be feeling incredibly depressed for no apparent reason. I found this really hard to bear as it varied from one day to the next. No wonder our male partners would like to become invisible for a few years until we get past it.
Sadly for us and them…a few years can last for a decade or more!
There isn’t an easy way to deal with depression as we’re all different and the levels vary from woman to woman. But, don’t just suffer through it. Remember, this is a HUGE life-changing moment that shouldn’t be made light of. (related post)
Speak to your medical physician to discuss possible remedies
But, please try natural options before taking Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) as there can be unwanted side effects…and there’s still talk of longterm issues associated with it. (Ignore what big Pharma tells you – commercial interest at play)
If you don’t want any medication (personally I opted for a mild anti-depressant for a short time, which made the world of difference), you can look at other measures.
I also gained relief from essential oils, meditation, cultivating a positive attitude, sheer stubbornness (my poor husband can attest to that!), and discussing it with other women.
I’m sure you’ve shared some funny anecdotes with other women about the number of clothes changes, peeling off the bed linen, only to drag it back 10 minutes later.
Eating copious amounts of ice cream just to cool down, even in winter which gets some really funny looks from other people!
But the truth is…we know it’s hell and it goes on for years!
And for some women, a loss of bladder control. Coughing, laughing, or sneezing can cause some embarrassing moments.
And it’s no laughing matter (pardon the pun!)
I love being a woman but I can’t count the number of times I’ve commented that if I come back in another life, it will be as a man to avoid all this crap.
I’m not anti men, but I know how they sometimes overreact to an issues that we women just ‘get on with’. Can you imagine how they would cope if they went through periods, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause? OMG…man-flu x 1000%
Sadly, for us there’s no easier answer. Hang in there, it does get better…AND no more periods! (at least there’s one small benefit) Related Post
If you ever reach a point where you feel your depression is taking on a more serious tone, such as thoughts of wanting to do yourself some harm…please don’t battle it alone.
Reach out for some qualified help. Contact: Betterhelp for online qualified counseling at a very reasonable price.
4. Eat Good Protein Foods & Less Carbs
The link between what you eat and your energy levels can’t be denied. As a Health Coach I’m so aware of this link that I would be remiss not to mention it.
The body thrives when it is given proper nutrition. Try the Mediterranean eating plan. You really can’t go wrong with this one.
Nutrient-dense foods will give you vitality, and energy, and can actually keep you going even at those times of the day when fatigue may hit you unexpectedly.
PLEASE try to give up processed, high sugar junk foods, especially sodas. Even the no-sugar ones are full of crappy stuff we shouldn’t consume. Highly processed foods do the opposite of giving you vitality.
Firstly, they’re full of nasty chemicals and things we really shouldn’t eat, and can’t digest properly.
Secondly, they contain huge amounts of sugar designed to make them tasty…and addictive! this leads to a host of possible health issues.
Rule Of Thumb 1.
If we have trouble pronouncing it, or you have to Google what it means, we probably shouldn’t eat it! We don’t truly know what the implications are of consuming them.
Rule Of Thumb 2.
Try not to eat anything that has a bar-code on it, because it’s manufactured, processed, and probably contains some crappy stuff.
Processed foods drag you down, and create ‘crashes’ that interfere with your everyday performance. Same with high carbohydrate foods eaten late in the day.
Eat more protein instead. Include fish, turkey, chicken, and eggs, Edamame, avocados, seeds, and nuts also provide you healthy fats and fiber to give you lasting energy throughout the day.
Eating smaller, higher protein, lower carbs meals.
Eating more frequently throughout the day, will keep your energy levels soaring, and eating a protein snack late in the evening doesn’t get stored as fat.
Foods high in carbohydrates stimulate the body to produce sleep-inducing serotonin, which in itself sounds great. BUT, because you are inactive during sleep, the carbs don’t get a chance to be burnt off as they would during the day.
So they tend to get stored as fat, leading to weight gain.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that increases serotonin and melatonin levels in the body.
We can’t produce tryptophan naturally, so instead, we consume foods that contain tryptophan to induce sleep. Great article for those of you who are technically inclined.
A better option is to have your evening meal at least 3 hours before going to bed.
If you need a snack, try things like nuts, peanut butter, avocado toast, apples, and even bananas. Also, a handful of almonds or walnuts make a great late-night snack. Or, try unsweetened greek yogurt with mixed nuts and a dribble of good honey added to it. YUM!
It will give your body fuel overnight by maintaining your blood sugar level…and having something in your stomach aids with sleep, whereas an empty stomach can keep you awake.
5. Increase Your Intake Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Oils containing Omega-3 have been found to boost alertness and many people regularly take fish oil supplements. But many supplements may not be what they seem. The quality can vary so choose a good brand.
Omega-3 is definitely considered beneficial to help lower the risk of heart attacks and the risk of dying from heart failure. However, tests on supplements aren’t conclusive, and overall, the jury seems to still be out on whether they are truly beneficial.
The general consensus seems to be that there isn’t any real harm to taking the correct dose of fish oil in supplement form. Read more here.
There are better ways to get your regular dose of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and that’s by eating good quality oily fish. These include Atlantic salmon, mackerel, sardines, and trout…preferably organic where possible.
Where possible, natural food is always better than taking supplements, and so much more satisfying to the tastebuds don’t you think?
6. Stress Management – (One Of My Favorite Subjects)
Stress is a real downer and sadly it’s on the increase in society all over the world. It really is the 21st Century disease and the effects of it are far-reaching and very destructive to the mind, body AND spirit.
Stress has become a buzz-word in our society.
But it’s only in more recent years that the seriousness is being recognized, and the consequences of staying in a constant state of stress without taking measures to deal with it.
There are so many external causes let alone biological ones. We really must take serious measures to control or eradicate it from our lives. Make no mistake, it’s a killer!…there is no place for a high level of ongoing stress in your life.
Whilst it’s true that we need a certain level of stress in life, it’s what keeps us safe and on-guard. This is a genetic safety mechanism called ‘fight or flight’ designed to help us run from bears and wolves!
But, the amount of unnatural stress in our modern life has been linked to so many serious health issues. These can begin at a younger age but not really manifest until we’re older.
It’s imperative that you take steps to deal with it…even if it means making some big changes to your lifestyle. Reducing or eliminating stress promotes resilience, energy, improved quality of life, and will definitely help you live longer.
There Are Many Natural And Effective Ways To Manage Stress.
These include meditation, yoga, tai chi, deep breathing exercises, interacting with pets and being out in nature.
Oh…and a conscious decision not to ‘give a shit!’
Sounds brutal, but so much of what bothers us are the expectations of society, work, friends, family and the pressure we put on ourselves for varying reasons.
I’m not saying be nasty to people or make them feel that you don’t care. What I mean is, make a conscious decision to recognize that in the grand scheme of things, nothing is worth worrying yourself into an illness or bad state of mind.
Maybe consider a more drastic but immensely fulfilling life-choice like my husband and I made.
We decided that corporate life was way too stressful, so we sold up and became Digital Nomads. Traveling and choosing to work remotely, and setting our own hours.
I appreciate that this isn’t a choice everyone can make for various reasons – especially now with Covid-19.
Until very recently we were stuck in Vietnam and very safe, (yes, contrary to popular belief around the world, Vietnam has done a great job dealing with this pandemic). Now we are in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. A stunning place, very safe and we got vaccinated here…which was an option not available to us in Vietnam.
But, although our choices of destinations are limited at present, deciding to change our lifestyle truly is the best decision we ever made for our health and happiness.
And interestingly, we keep meeting so many people from all over the world in our age-group who, despite the pandemic, have made the same ‘digital nomad’ choice. They ALL make the same comment, “we should have done it years ago”
Choose To Live Your Life With Intention And Purpose
Another way to help control stress is by choosing to Live with Intention, Purpose, and a Positive Mindset. No more drifting through life without a plan.
This can’t be overlooked as just a pleasant statement. It’s really critical to your ongoing wellbeing…at any age.
7. Heart Health
The cells of our heart become stiffer as we age and the blood vessels that supply the heart become filled with plaque and don’t expand as much when you exercise. This is often why we find we can’t exercise as vigorously as when we were younger.
The ability of our hearts to pump effectively is decreased and we are at risk for heart failure in our elderly years. Even though we feel fighting fit now, fundamentally we are all aware of possible heart issues…it’s certainly in the media enough.
But it’s completely human to want to ignore it, and hope it never happens.
However, if you continue to exercise your heart, you CAN maintain the strength of a healthy heart so that you reduce the chances of suffering from heart failure or other similar age-related heart issues.
I don’t want to be a party-pooper, but you gotta do what you can.
Ignoring it won’t stop it from happening…only taking action will.
Regular exercise certainly helps. Maintaining your heart rate within the target range so you don’t over-stress it, by not trying to be 30 again and overdoing it.
Swimming is good, as is mild aerobic exercise, and the water provides natural support for your bones.
Plus, changing your diet is a huge factor that can’t be downplayed. Sorry…got to be said!
Another benefit of doing some aerobic exercise regularly is increased lung capacity. This will help you counteract the natural loss of air exchange that comes with age…and the added bonus will be that great toned figure you’ll be showing off!
8. Take Care Of All Your Skin – Not Just Your Face
Our skin thins out as we age. It becomes less elastic which is why the wrinkles are more noticeable, and it will be drier than when we were younger.
Exposure to excessive amounts of sun can accelerate this process. We can’t avoid it. This is due to just walking in any sunlight throughout our life. Irrespective of deliberately seeking the sun on the beach, which we probably all did at some point when we were younger.
Have your body checked once a year by a dermatologist who can look for moles, skin spots and, any other changes to your skin that could be the start of a melanoma. Particularly if you live in a hot climate with high sun exposure.
It’s not meant to be a scare tactic…but, prevention is definitely better than cure.
I remember (with horror) how as teenagers in Australia in the 70’s, we used Baby Oil to get a suntan on the beach! That’s like sizzling in a frying pan. OMG…what were we thinking!
Our Skin Produces Less Collagen As We Age
This affects the elasticity of the skin and the number of nerve endings decreases in the skin as you age. The result is that you may not feel things to the same degree as you get older.
There is also a thinning of the fatty layer beneath the skin. Therefore your skin is less cushioned and as a result, is less protected should you injure the skin in any way.
You’ve probably noticed how it’s easier to bruise or get a skin tear now, and doesn’t heal as quickly from an abrasion. Keep it moisturized, more than ever…all over, not just your face. (related post)
This naturally leads to the next one…
9. Stay Hydrated
It’s pretty vital to drink healthy liquids, preferably water and not sugary drinks.
BTW…Gin and Tonics (or 3) don’t really figure into this equation. Nope…not getting off that lightly!
Not saying you can’t have them, after all, life’s to be lived right?
But water is the key…it always has been and we all know it! Aim for 1.7 – 2 liters (57.5fl oz – 67.6 fl oz) per day. Add lemon or lime and mint to flavor it if it makes it tastier for you.
Our bodies absolutely thrive on it. It’s the key to better skin, increased weight loss, better kidney health, and improved memory.
Also, it can prevent headaches, and reduce the risk of bladder infections which become more common as we get older.
Also, herbal teas and green tea can boost hydration, which also boosts energy. Hydrating foods such as cucumbers, watermelon, and lettuce can do the same.
So, green tea and yummy salads all round…and if all else fails you can pretend it’s a G & T!
And finally, here are 3 obvious health suggestions.
10. Don’t Smoke…Or At Least Cut Down
I’ve never smoked, so I’m in no position to advise on how to stop. I understand how addictive it is. I also understand that it’s often linked to another behavior like drinking coffee or alcohol, or feeling insecure.
This makes it not just an addiction but also associated with a habit. But please try to quit for the sake of your long-term health.
Years of accumulated smoking will impact your health. If you can’t stop, then at least try to cut-down.
11. Stay Connected & Sociable
As we get older we can sometimes distance ourselves from friends more than we would if we were younger. Whether it’s because we become more discerning about who we spend time with, or just a little anti-social preferring our own company more.
However, it’s important to stay connected as much as possible. Humans are social creatures, and loneliness can creep up on you…particularly if you no longer have a partner.
No-one’s saying you need to join various groups or organizations unless the mood takes you, but keep in touch with friends even if it’s on social media. Social media is good but in-person is always better.
Maybe schedule a regular meet-up with close friends for lunch and a good chat. It’s good for the soul to interact with someone whose company you genuinely enjoy, for a few bevies and a good chat.
12. Have Regular Health Checks
Even if it’s just the usual annual check-up recommended by physicians.
Including the usual suspects…breast exam, pap-smear, cholesterol, triglycerides, heart check, diabetes check, kidney, and liver function, and prostate for men.
Having these can pick up issues early making it much easier to treat well before it can turn into something nasty.
I picked up my kidney cancer this way.
Had I left it another 6-8 months I would have been in a chemo situation, but instead, they caught it early and I’m clear.
Trust your instincts. If you feel something isn’t right, go and get some tests done…don’t ignore it!
By the way ladies…
You must have regular breast exams and pap-smears, particularly after turning 50. The same goes for the man in your life…encourage him to have a regular prostate test. It’s so easy to just let things go.
Many of these health and lifestyle choices are easy to do after the age of 50 and will go a long way toward extending your life. Allowing you to age gracefully through your 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond.
I really hope you have found this post full of useful info and will act on some, if not all of the advice for the sake of your health and a long life.
Please let me know in the comments if you have decided to make some lifestyle changes. I love to hear from you.