Turning 50 is a major milestone. It’s also a good time to get serious about your health and wellness so you can remain active and healthy for decades to come — whether that means chasing after grandkids in your 60s or taking fun-filled vacations during your 70s.
You might think it’s too late to get in shape, but the good news is that you can make changes for a healthier lifestyle at any age. As we age, our risks for chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis increase.1 But making healthy choices, like eating healthier, exercising regularly, and seeing your doctor routinely, can help reduce those risks, helping you live longer and healthier.2 Here’s what you need to know about staying healthy in your 50s.
How to Stay Healthy in Your 50s
Welcome to your fabulous 50s! While aging, and all that comes with it, is a part of life, there are things you can do to reduce your risks of certain illnesses and maintain good health, setting yourself up for a longer, healthier future.
Changes in Your Health
You might feel young at heart, but your body might be saying otherwise. Even if you’ve taken care of yourself in your earlier years, it’s even more important to up your healthy habits game in your 50s. Not only are you more at risk for chronic health conditions, but you may also notice other changes like having trouble hearing, feeling a workout a little more than you used to, having difficulty sleeping, or finding it harder to read your favorite book.3
Health and Nutrition
It’s just a fact of life, our metabolism slows as we age due to being less active, losing muscle mass, and aging of metabolic processes.4 This makes it harder to maintain a healthy weight, which can put you at a greater risk for chronic health conditions. To help maintain a healthy weight, it’s important to eat a heart-healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats, and practice portion control.3 Eating a healthy diet (or drawing inspiration from heart-healthy diets like Japanese or Mediterranean) is a great way to ensure you’re getting important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to keep your body happy.
No one loves going to the doctor, but routine health checks are important, especially as you get older. Middle-age is when many chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and colon cancer are more likely to arise. But routine wellness exams can help your doctor find issues sooner when they’re more easily treated.5 You and your doctor can also begin to track important numbers like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and body weight.
Research found that the average lifetime risk of developing cardiovascular disease was approximately 52% for men and 39% for women and that risk jumped to 69% for men and 50% for women who had two or more cardiovascular risk factors by age 50.6 Risk factors for heart disease include being overweight, having diabetes, smoking, or having high cholesterol. The good news is that there are ways you can lower your risks of heart disease.7 Here are some tips for your heart health:
Being more active is associated with living longer and reducing risks for health issues like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Routine exercise can also help you maintain a healthy weight, maintain muscle mass, improve your metabolism, and improve your quality of life.8
Eating a heart-healthy diet not only helps you maintain a healthy weight, it can reduce the risks for many chronic health conditions. A healthy diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins, and is lower in sodium, sugar and saturated fat.9 Here are some heart-healthy diet essentials to help you get started.
Another way to have a happier heart is to reduce stress. While stress is a normal human reaction that happens to all of us, too much stress can be bad for your heart. According to the American Heart Association, “Chronic stress may lead to high blood pressure, which can increase the risk for heart attack and stroke.” Since you may be at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, keeping your stress at bay is important. Try spending time with family and friends, meditating or taking a yoga class, exercising regularly and reducing your caffeine intake.10 Here are five additional tips for relieving stress.
Health Tips For Women
You want to not only live longer, but age gracefully and healthily. Here are a few tips to help you do just that:
Make mammograms routine - As women age, their chances of getting breast cancer increase. Between the ages of 50 and 60, the risk increases to 1 in 42 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer.11 Early detection saves lives.
Lift weights - Pick up the weights! Adding strength training to your exercise routine can reduce the rate of bone loss and strengthen the muscles around the joints.12
Talk to your doctor about menopause - Your body is going through changes and it’s important to discuss menopause with your doctor who can help suggest ways to reduce the often uncomfortable symptoms.
Love your bones - There are many factors that can increase your risk for osteoporosis as you age, so be sure to talk to your doctor about your risks, when to start getting a bone density scan, and supplements.
Health Tips For Men
Want to look and feel your best at 50? Here are a few tips just for men:
Screen for prostate cancer - The risk for prostate cancer increases as men age. When prostate cancer is detected early, it’s more treatable. So don’t skip out on this must-have screening.13
Don’t dodge the doctor - Studies show that men are doctor-dodgers. One study found that 55% of men had not seen their doctor for a physical exam in the previous year, even though 40% of them had at least one chronic condition.14 Yet, wellness exams can help your doctor detect issues earlier.
Double-down on being heart-healthy - On average, men develop heart disease earlier than women, and 1 in 4 deaths is caused by heart disease. Risk factors for heart disease increase due to reduced testosterone and weight gain, which can lead to chronic conditions that increase the risk of a heart attack.15