Women can make smart changes at 50 to protect and improve their health, happiness, wellness and style. 50 is a great age to develop new passions, purpose and habits.
Our bodies are the vehicles that take us through life’s highs and lows. As an OB/GYN, my hope is you stay healthy, so you can take those long stretches on cruise control. But as we age, the bumps and potholes that we used to take in stride, start to take a greater toll on our bodies.
1) Can Re-Thinking Your Self Care Routine Improve Your Life After Age 50? YES!
If you’ve reached your 50s, you’ve come a long way, and there’s a long, winding road ahead of you. It’s a good time to step up and reflect on your wellness and self-care habits. Here are some guidelines for how to stay fit as you log your 50th year.
And most of this advice applies to men as well… just saying.
2) When you hit 50, rethink your diet (if not sooner)!
You may already be a healthy eater. If this is the case, keep it up! But if you’re like many others, you’ve heard all the advice about healthy eating over the years and tucked it away for another time. Gaining too much weight can tax your body and lead to hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.
Maybe you’ve tried a few fad diets, but you’ve learned by now that they rarely work, and given them up. Or, you’ve reveled in the joys and convenience of modern American cuisine, knowing that there’s always time to eat healthfully “later.”
Instead of dieting, just ask yourself a few key questions. Do your current eating habits…
…promote good digestion?
…reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease?
…help you keep a healthy weight?
If not, then you can improve your diet by cutting back on sugars and harmful fats, and upping your intake of fruits, vegetables, fiber, and lean proteins, like fish and nuts.
Listen to your body. If you’re feeling bloated or constipated after your meals, it’s a sign that something needs to change.
3) Consider taking supplements
You should know that there are several vitamins and minerals that are essential to long-term good health. You may already be taking supplements. Double-check with your doctor to ensure you’re getting what you need.
If the winter months leave you feeling fatigued, a lack of Vitamin D may be to blame. Try to get out in the sun more. If you’re cloud-locked, a supplement should do the trick.
As we age, our bodies have a harder time absorbing Vitamin B. Taking a B complex has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Calcium is essential for bone health, but it is possible to get too much. We need about 1,200mg each day. Some of us get plenty of that in our diets (hello, dairy-lovers!) while others don’t (lactose-intolerants, we see you too!). Talk to your doctor about whether a calcium supplement is right for you.
Here’s another one that’s harder to absorb in middle-age. You don’t want to miss it, either. Magnesium promotes restful sleep, good digestion, and relieves muscle pain.
These are microorganisms that help you digest food from the inside. They’ve already made their home in your gut, but you can keep your tiny community happy by eating live cultures of fermented foods, like yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, pickles, and kombucha.
4) Pay your doctor a visit
Tests aren’t just for schoolchildren. Here’s a list of tests we recommend for women over 50.
Don’t neglect these. You should still be getting a pap smear test once every three years.
This is the ideal time for your first colon cancer screening.
According to the U.S. Preventative Services Taskforce, women should start getting regular mammograms every two years at the age of 50.
Bone density test
This test is easy and painless and can screen for signs of osteoporosis.
After age 50, you should have your eyes checked every two or three years. Your doctor will look for changes in your vision, as well as signs of cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
Studies have shown that hearing loss may be a factor in degenerative brain disorders. Having your hearing checked early can help you catch problems and try out solutions.
Skin cancer is one of the most common categories of cancer. If you have a funny spot or suspicious mole, it’s time to have it checked out.
5) Get serious about brain health
There are five golden rules for taking care of your brain health, and according to a 2014 study, following at least four of them can lower your risk of dementia by more than one-third.
What are these golden rules? They’re easy to guess!
The Mediterranean diet, full of fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and olive oil, is the best choice.
Try swimming, dancing, walking, or tai chi for low-impact activities.
Or at least try to quit smoking!
Drink no more than one alcoholic beverage per day
Or at least try to cut down!
Maintain healthy blood sugar and blood pressure
Consider checking it at home.
Another great way to take care of your brain is to stimulate it with interesting experiences and feed it new information. Celebrate this milestone by learning a new skill or hobby, like portraiture or gardening.
Any way you look at it, self-care is paramount to a healthy long life. Read more about what you can do to improve your health and your life after 50. Let me know what you think! Thaïs