Aging is typically associated with physical and mental decline, which are considered a natural part of the aging process. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re a woman over 50, here are some simple steps you can take to add years to your life and stay healthy and active for longer.
It may sound simplistic, but there’s a reason why health experts are always talking about eating the right foods. A healthy diet is directly related to a healthy body, so;
- Eat heart-healthy foods – leafy greens, whole grains, olive oil, avocados, nuts, dairy and fish will help prevent heart disease and keep your cardiovascular system in good condition.
- Reduce your salt intake – excess sodium causes high blood pressure and increases your risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. Try flavouring your food with herbs, citrus and salsas instead of salt.
- Increase your calcium intake – to counter diminishing bone strength and density and the risk of developing osteoporosis, eat calcium-rich foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt or take a calcium supplement.
- Drink plenty of water – keeping well hydrated helps to lubricate your joints, promote cell growth, assist with circulation and digestion and flush toxins out of your body.
Exercise your body
Exercising for 30 minutes a day is one of the best ways to stay healthy for longer. Exercise helps to tone up your heart and muscles, improve circulation, strengthen your bones and increase brain function.
If you haven’t been active for a while, start with a short walk and then gradually work up to longer distances as you begin to feel fitter.
Other good forms of exercise for women over 50 include swimming or biking for low-impact cardio, simple floor exercises to increase your mobility and safe weight training exercises such as squats, incline push ups, arm curls and stationary lunges.
Keep your mind healthy
Dementia is something we all fear in later life, but exercising your brain as well as your body can help to keep mental deterioration at bay.
Exercising your brain is about keeping it engaged and active and ways to do this can include joining a book or discussion club, signing up for a class, learning an instrument or language and challenging your mind with quizzes, board games, crosswords, jigsaws and puzzles. You’ll also find a great range of innovative brain training games and apps on the Internet.
Get enough sleep
Sleep is considered as important for good health as diet and exercise and according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the key to healthy sleep is to get a sufficient amount of uninterrupted and refreshing sleep on a consistent basis.
A good night’s sleep is believed to help improve brain performance, mood and overall health and reduce the risk of diseases and disorders such as heart disease, stroke, obesity and dementia.
Protect yourself from the sun
As your skin ages, it becomes more susceptible to sun damage, which increases your risk of developing skin cancers. Use a high SPF sunscreen whenever you go out, not just at the beach, and wear long-sleeved clothing and a wide-brimmed hat for additional protection from UV rays.
If you live in a hot climate, you should also have your skin checked for melanomas at least once a year, or every six months if you have fair skin, a lot of moles or a family history of skin cancer.
Reduce your risk of falling
Falls and fractures can greatly reduce your quality of life in later years, so it’s important to eat a diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D to maintain bone strength and density.
You should also adopt an exercise regime that includes a weight-bearing, bone-building exercise such as walking or jogging and a series of balance, flexibility and stretching exercises.
Visit your doctor
As a woman over 50, your risk of certain diseases and conditions increases, so it’s in your interests to start visiting your healthcare provider more regularly. This includes getting;
- Regular preventative screenings – mammograms, colonoscopies and heart and lung scans can help diagnose issues early, before they can turn into more significant problems.
- Routine pap exams – this is the best way to detect cervical cancer, which often has no symptoms, Early detection of this ‘silent killer’ has significantly improved survival rates.
- Periodic health checks – have your blood pressure, hearing, vision and teeth checked every year, your bone health every two years and your blood cholesterol levels checked every three years for signs of diabetes.
- Regular vaccinations – this is particularly important because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but you should also get a flu shot every year and a tetanus shot every ten years.
Shed unhealthy habits
This one’s a no-brainer. If you really want to live a longer and healthier life, you need to lose any unhealthy vices you may have such as;
- Smoking – even if you’d tried and failed numerous times in the past, it’s never too late to kick the habit and your body will thank you for it. Quitting will immediately lower your blood pressure, improve your circulation and reduce your risk of lung and heart disease.
- Drinking – the same goes for drinking. Excessive alcohol intake can have long-term health effects including an increased risk of stomach and bowel cancer, stroke, heart attack, cirrhosis of the liver and dementia. It’s not recommended for women over 50 to drink more than three standard drinks a day or seven drinks total in a week.
- Prescription medicines – if you take a variety of medicines, vitamins and supplements and aren’t really sure what they’re for, show them to your healthcare provider who can check to make sure they’re safe, or even necessary, for you to be taking.
People are living longer (the average life expectancy for women is now 81 and 76 for men). But with longevity comes greater exposure to the risk of disease.
Which is why it’s more important than ever, as a woman over 50, to stay one step ahead of your health to ensure you live their best life free of injury, illness and disease.