If you’ve just turned 50 or are about to pass the scary line of the mid-century, you’ve probably noticed some changes in your body, energy and overall wellness. This is absolutely normal, but before you go to the fridge to grab a beer and give up on a healthy lifestyle because you’re still going to get old anyway, you should read this post.
They say 50 is the new 40 (while 40 is the new 30, by the way) for a reason. It might surprise you, but it’s actually really easy to stay healthy and strong after your 49th birthday if you only change your daily habits a little bit. Besides, there’s a side-effect of these changes and it’s that you won’t only see yourself and feel healthier, but you will also find yourself enjoying your new habits. Well… some of them!
Take up a new hobby
So now that your children have left the nest and you’re probably close to retirement or even enjoying it already, you’ll have more time in your hands than you used to. There’s no such thing as being too old to try new experiences and hobbies, as this is something that will always benefit both your mind and your body.
Why having a hobby is important, especially as we grow older, you may ask? Well, hobbies keep your brain stimulated way more than watching TV or scrolling at your phone. An active brain is less likely to develop neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer or dementia.
They also help you fight stress, are a great way of meeting new people (which becomes a lot harder after your 20s, as you may have realized by now) and could also help you with our next tip.
Physical activity is one of the best, cheapest and easier ways for men over age 50 to improve their overall health, including heart health, muscle strength, cholesterol levels and mental illnesses as dementia or depression. It will also help you sleep, which will be as important now as it used to be when you were younger.
Now you don’t have to become a croissant man, but a little bit of moderate exercise, both aerobic and muscle training, for at least 150 minutes a week would be a really good help if you want to stay in shape after your 50. However, if you have always been quite a sedentary person, you should start slowly and find out what kind of exercise you enjoy most before burning out and giving up any kind of exercise whatsoever just because you get equally tired and bored going to the gym or practising a sport you never liked.
Try small changes in your diet
A good diet is really important if you want to keep your visits to the GP at a minimum. With age, there is a bigger risk of developing health conditions that are incredibly influenced by what we eat – diabetes, high blood pressure and gout, among others.
Don’t get me wrong: we all enjoy junk food from time to time and I don’t think you should absolutely avoid it from now on. Dietary habits are probably the hardest to change, which is why we recommend you take small steps in this field as well.
For starters, try reducing your meat and dairy intake as they are inflammatory foods that could worsen joint pain and don’t help much when it comes to digestion. Instead, replace them with fish or vegetables. Or, if you’re not up for such a big change, take smaller portions of meat and add more vegetables to your plate. Change whole milk for skim or plant-based drinks, season your food with herbs and spices and reduce the amount of salt, and drink plenty of water and less alcohol.
Again, this should be done as a habit, but there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a barbeque or a beer every now and then.
Still a smoker?
This has been repeated ad nauseam, but smoking is just bad for you and there is nothing you can get out of it. It doesn’t only increase the risks of developing several types of cancer or chronic bronchitis: it also makes your more likely to suffer from heart disease, osteoporosis, respiratory problems, eye diseases that can lead to blindness and diabetes. Plus, it influences your emotions whenever you start feeling withdrawal symptoms (which is what you feel when you think you really need a cigarette) – depression, anger, tiredness, lack of energy and sleeping and concentrating problems.
The best thing you can do if you are a smoker is quitting, no matter your age. No, you’re not too old to kick the habit, and you will definitely see how your body starts healing as soon as you stop smoking.
Keep up with your regular check-ups
There’s a common idea, especially amongst some men, that you should only visit the doctor when something feels terribly off. This tactic, unfortunately, won’t work so well in your 50s. Many of the diseases we have mentioned before (and some others that we haven’t talked about, such as prostate cancer) are life-threatening but don’t present any symptoms until it’s too late. Never missing an appointment, whether it’s with your general practitioner or in a specialised private clinic, will at least give you the peace of mind that everything is going well.