The big 5-0. While you may not be enthusiastic about some of the changes that come with aging, there is also much to celebrate, and positive beliefs about aging can add years to your life. For one thing, “You’ll reach 50 with more brain function than when you were 25,” says WebMD. Being happier is another benefit that you can also enjoy. “Nearly 95 percent of people age 50 and older say they are ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their lives,” the site reports.
However, both increased brain function and life satisfaction require some effort on your part. Read on to find out which habits you should make part of your regular routine, and which ones you should stop right now.
READ THE FOLLOWING: Dr. Fauci is advising all vaccinated people over the age of 50 to do this right now.
Eating healthy is always a good idea, no matter your age. But if you’ve turned 50 and haven’t been eating the right foods, there’s no better time to start than now.
“Our body’s organs were simply not designed to meet the demands placed on them by consuming highly processed, high-sugar, high-fat foods,” he says. S. Adam Ramin, MD, urologic surgeon and medical director of Urology Cancer Specialists in Los Angeles. “When they are forced to filter these substances long-term, the consequences can be severe and life-threatening.”
What you eat affects every aspect of your well-being, including the health of your brain. “One way to help preserve your brain power (and memory) is to follow a Mediterranean diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats like olive and canola oils,” advises WebMD.
Ramin has a simple way to eat healthier food: Read the ingredient labels on the food you buy. “Just paying attention to what you’re putting in his body can be a great start,” says Ramin. “A good rule of thumb: If the package label contains ingredients you can’t pronounce, don’t buy it.”
Obesity is a major risk factor for serious health conditions at any age. “Patients affected by obesity are more frequently presenting with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and certain types of cancer,” reports the Obesity Action Coalition. “As we get older, physical disability is also a major problem due to the effect of weight on the joints.”
What you may not realize is that your idea of what constitutes “obese” may not be accurate. “You may be surprised to learn that studies have shown that simply being overweight, not necessarily clinically obese, also increases risk,” advises Ramin.
However, “unlike genetic or hereditary factors that we can’t control, obesity can be prevented,” he says. “Commit in your 50s to maintaining a healthy weight, for your general and urological health.” Two great approaches to managing your weight? Eat right and exercise.
Physical activity benefits people of all ages, but as you get older, it becomes even more important. “Exercise helps stop, delay, and sometimes improve serious conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and osteoporosis,” according to WebMD. “It can help keep your brain alert and keep you from getting depressed.”
If the prospect of getting into a fitness routine seems daunting, rest assured there are plenty of great options out there. “Some activities provide more than one type of exercise, so you’ll get more for your bang for your buck,” says WebMD, also suggesting that you choose activities you enjoy. “Low-impact exercise, with less jumping and pounding, is kinder to your joints,” the site explains. “Your doctor or physical therapist can suggest ways to adapt sports and exercises, or better alternatives, based on the limitations of any medical conditions you have.”
And don’t forget the health benefits of a brisk walk! Incorporating walking into your routine can add years to your life and reduce the risk of different diseases.
Once you turn 50, you should be screened for a lot of different conditions. While Ramin acknowledges that many people tend to put off going to the doctor, he encourages you to “schedule your physical; it’s always worth it.”
The American Cancer Society says screening for several types of cancer is recommended after age 50: “If you’re between the ages of 50 and 64, these screening tests are recommended for certain types of cancer,” the site says, which includes colon cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer, and prostate cancer. (Depending on your family history and your health care provider’s recommendations, you may also want to be screened for other types of cancer.)
It’s also important to control your blood pressure as you get older. “High blood pressure is not only bad for the heart, but also has serious and long-lasting effects on the kidneys,” warns Ramin. “In fact, uncontrolled high blood pressure is among the leading causes of kidney failure in the United States.” He says that controlling your blood pressure is easy to do, simply by making healthy lifestyle choices.
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If you smoke, Ramin has two words for you: quit now. “With all the information out there about the significant health risk, too many people still smoke,” says Ramin, who cautions that smoking is dangerous in myriad ways including, but not limited to, the health of your lungs. “Your kidneys and bladder, your body’s filtering system, must also process the toxins in cigarette smoke,” Ramin says. “They weren’t made for such a load. It kills them. Literally.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the following health hazards that smoking can cause: “cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis In addition to increasing the risk of “tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and immune system problems, including rheumatoid arthritis.”
“Smoking is a lifestyle habit that’s really not worth it,” says Ramin.