By: Sarah Daren
With age comes wisdom, but as we all know, aging may also come with some significant changes. Many of the body’s systems stop working at peak efficiency, and several individuals may develop chronic health problems. In fact, 80% of older adults have at least one chronic disease, according to the National Council on Aging. Worse, 77% have two or more of these conditions! High blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, and falls all affect older adults.
While these statistics are grim, making an effort to live a healthy lifestyle after you turn 50 can make a big difference in your quality of life as you age. The good news? We’re living longer than ever, and 95.2% of US counties increased their median age from 2000-2016. If you’re over the age of 50, here’s an overview of the health and wellness essentials that will help you thrive.
Ensure You Have a Safe Work/Life Balance
The average person retires around age 63, although many Americans choose to retire later. If you’re still a part of the workforce (likely if you’re in your 50s), then it is key for you to maintain a healthy work-life balance to help you manage stress and stay healthy. One 2014 study found that 94% of Americans worked more than 50 hours per week, leaving them little time for exercise, healthy eating, or even time with loved ones.
It’s especially important to ease off the gas at work if you’re over the age of 50. Your body may not bounce back as quickly from stress, lack of sleep, and other habits of chronically overworked as it once could. Try to cap your work week at 40 hours, and get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and put aside time for socializing.
Get Regular Checkups
Because health condition become more common as one ages, it’s important to schedule regular doctor visits. Early detection can make a huge difference in controlling symptoms long term or even surviving diseases, like cancer.
Exercise is important throughout our lives, but it becomes even more crucial as we age. Most adults over 50 lose about 3% of their muscle strength each year, which can eventually make everyday tasks difficult. Exercise can help reduce the loss of muscle mass, and it also supports chronic disease prevention.
Staying active doesn’t have to mean spending hours at the gym lifting weights. Even simple activities like walking more can help people stay healthy after 50. Older Americans run races from 5Ks to ultramarathons, bike, swim, krank, play tennis, you name it! Recommendations suggest 150 minutes of activity each week. Any type of exercise will be beneficial to your health, so find something you enjoy and stick to it.
Meditation & Yoga
Big changes often happen in your life after you turn 50. Whether you’re looking toward retirement, facing an empty nest, or adjusting to the physical changes of aging, life can feel stressful in new ways. Practicing meditation and yoga can help you feel calmer and more in control of your body and mind.
Meditation can be done anywhere, and it can help calm the mind, organize thoughts, and come to peace with aging. Yoga is great for people of all ages, but it can be especially beneficial as you age. In addition to building strength, yoga can also improve balance and reduce fall risks. Regularly practicing yoga can also assist with lowering high blood pressure, stress, anxiety, and depression. Some individuals who cannot physically perform the poses on a traditional mat can even benefit from chair yoga. Yoga is so popular that it is typically simple to find a nearby gym or studio that offers classes.
Keep Your Mind Sharp
Your body is not the only thing that goes through changes as you age. Keeping your mind sharp is just as important as exercising your body. Doing puzzles, attending social events, reading, and learning new skills are all great ways to stay sharp and stimulate your mind.
Take Charge of Aging
Even though you’ll go through major changes after 50, you can take charge of aging. Be proactive! Do not accept some of the common changes of aging as inevitable—take steps to prevent them. By following these tips, you can live a healthy and fulfilling life for years to come.