12 Ways For Healthy Living After 50
Hello again, my lovely midlife friend.
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.
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’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, comes a few issues and that’s what this post is about.
Let’s discuss them.
Life seems to play a spiteful game 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.
Bet you can relate to this one! We become adept at removing it without taking our 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!
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.
The best thing you can do for this is to remain physically active no matter how you feel. 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.
And, it doesn’t have to be a lot. Particularly weight-bearing exercises like gym work, combined 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)
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.
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) the dog…
If you don’t have one, 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 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) paddleboarding, rock climbing, windsurfing, sailboarding…it’s all available to us. We’re not too old just because we’re past 50!
2. Regular Sleep
Harvard Medical School physician Julie K. Silver reports that as we get older, various things can really disrupt sleep patterns, posing an increased risk of insomnia.
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.
Also, I sleep lightly so the slightest noise wakes me. Try the little silicon earbuds used by swimmers to stop water from getting in their ears. They’re brilliant.
For you, it may be that you need a completely dark room. Try an eyeshade for blocking out the light.
Create a bedtime ritual.
Prepare the body for sleep, reduce the load of your daily schedule, and go to bed at the same time every night.
Have at least 30 minutes of no technology before turning in. This is super hard I know…we’re all addicted these days.
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 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. Feel each part of you relaxing and breathe deeply while you do.
Option Three – is to 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 afterward any of these three options.
3. Dealing With Midlife Depression
This is an issue many of us face and it’s usually 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.
I’ve got news for them…a few years can last for a decade or more!
There isn’t an easy way to deal with the 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.
Speak to your medical physician first. If you don’t want any medication (personally I opted for a mild anti-depressant 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.
There are some funny anecdotes women share 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…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 can’t count the number of times I’ve commented that if I come back in another life, it will be as a man! Can you imagine how they would cope?…Man-Flu x 100%
Sadly, there’s no easier answer. Hang in there, it does get better…and no more periods!
If you ever reach a point where you feel your depression is taking on a more serious tone, like wanting to do yourself some harm…please don’t battle it alone. Get some qualified help. Contact: Betterhelp for online qualified counseling at a very reasonable price.
4. Eat High Protein Foods
The link between what you eat and your energy levels can’t be denied. The body thrives when it is given proper nutrition. 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.
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.
Rule of thumb 1…if we have trouble pronouncing it, 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 and processed.
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 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 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, yogurt, peanut butter, avocado toast, apples, and even bananas.
Also, a handful of almonds make a great late-night snack.
A protein snack before bedtime is less likely to be stored as fat. 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 Intake Of Omega Fatty Acids
Omega-3 oils have been found to boost alertness and many people regularly take fish oil supplements. But many supplements may not be what they seem.
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 such as Atlantic salmon, mackerel, sardines, and trout…preferably organic 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 – my personal favorite!
Stress is really a downer and sadly it’s on the increase in society all over the world. It’s the 21st Century disease.
There are so many external causes let alone biological ones. It is exhausting for the mind, body, and spirit and we really must take serious measures to control or eradicate it from our lives.
It’s a killer!…there is no place for a high level of ongoing stress in your life.
Stress 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, including mediation, yoga, relaxation, being in nature, working less, and aerobic exercise.
Or, maybe a more drastic but immensely fulfilling life-choice like my husband and I made. We decided that the 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.
This obviously isn’t a choice everyone can make – especially now with Covid-19, (we’re currently stuck in Vietnam and very safe) but, it’s truly the best decision we ever made, both for our health and happiness.
And interestingly, we keep meeting so many people from all over the world in our age-group who have made the same choice. They ALL make the same comment “we should have done it years ago”
Choose to live an Intentional Life
Another way to help control stress is by choosing to Live with Intention, Purpose, and a Positive Mindset. This can’t be overlooked as just a pleasant statement! It is 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 Party-Pooper but you’ve gotta do what you can….ignoring it won’t stop it 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.
Plus, changing diet is a huge factor that can’t be downplayed…sorry!
Another benefit of doing some aerobic exercise regularly is increased lung capacity. This will help 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 On 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. This is even without deliberately seeking the sun on the beach which we’ve all done 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 can remember (with horror) how as teenagers in Australia in the 70’s, we used to use 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, which affects the elasticity of the skin. The number of nerve endings decreases in the skin as you age. This means that you feel things to a lesser degree as you get older.
There is also a thinning of the fatty layer beneath the skin. This means that 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.
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…the Gin and Tonics (or 3) don’t figure into this equation. No getting off that lightly!
Water is the key. It always has been…AND we all know it! Aim for 2 liters a day…more if you can. 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, improved memory, it can reduce headaches, and reduces the risk of bladder infections.
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’s a couple of obvious health choices…
10. Don’t Smoke…Or At Least Try To 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, making 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.
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 who you genuinely enjoy spending time with.
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 tests. 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 your men…encourage them to have regular prostate exams.
Many health and lifestyle choices are easy to do after the age of 50 and will go a long way toward extending your life and allowing you to age gracefully through your 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond.
Well, that’s it for this post.
I really hope you have found it full of useful info and will act on some of it, if not all of the advice for the sake of your health. Let me know in the comments if any of this has helped you make some lifestyle choices.
I’d love to hear your thoughts…