Never Do This After Age 50, Warn Physicians
Healthy aging is crucial for happiness and independence—but many people are not aware of how bad habits are undermining their health. "Whoever said life is all downhill after your 50th birthday didn't know what they are talking about," says David B. Samadi, MD. "Sure, there are the many physical changes that happen throughout life: weight gain or loss, hair loss or going gray, wrinkles appear, muscle loss, hearing loss and energy levels diminish. We can't control everything in life, but the beginning of the end of your life doesn't start once you pass 50—even though you may feel that way. It all depends on your outlook and how well you take care of yourself. Even if you've neglected your health over the years, there is still time to take control of it." Here are five things never to do after age 50, according to health experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Don't Neglect Your Diet
Enjoying a nutritious diet is incredibly important for healthy aging after 50. "We need fewer daily calories as we age because our metabolism naturally begins to slow," says Amanda Malone, MD. "Since you don't need as many calories, those calories you do consume become very important. Your diet after age 50 should include a variety of healthy, nutrient-dense foods. Add in daily exercise and you're on the path to a higher quality of life and enhanced independence as you age."
"A variety of foods is best because you'll have several sources of required vitamins and you won't get bored by the same foods. Also, the more 'whole' unprocessed foods you can eat, the better. Go for the whole fruit, not fruit juices. Go for fresh, grilled or baked chicken, not processed lunch meat," says Rachel Sweeney, NP.
Don't Stop Moving
Retirement doesn't mean you stop moving—staying active every day is crucial to good health. "All of our bodies need to be challenged regularly and correctly. If we don't want our bones to become brittle, we need to apply loads to our bodies," says David Stewart, founder of Ageist. "Our muscles, tendons and everything surrounding them will become more robust, and we'll feel better all around. When our bodies are sturdier, our muscles supple and our BMI where it should be, we can move around space easier, with much more fluidity. It can totally change our mindset. We will no longer feel disempowered and weak. Strangely enough, just a little thing like feeling strong when opening the door can make a tremendous psychological difference in our day."
"Aging puts us at an increased risk for osteoporosis, so doing exercise that supports our skeletal system is really important," says personal trainer Amanda Thebe. "In addition to this, daily walking or other moderate cardio activities can help us prevent some chronic diseases as well as helping us have good mental health."
Don't Neglect Routine Health Screenings
Routine health screenings are an important part of preventive care, doctors say. "One way to care for yourself is by getting routine health care in your 50s," says Dr. Samadi. "The goal of this is to develop and maintain the doctor-patient relationship, encourage a healthy lifestyle, screen for disease, assess medical problems and update immunizations."
Don't Ignore Sleep Disorders
"As a sleep clinician who sees patients at nearly every stage of life, I'm not sure there is a time when sleep is more individually varied than in older adulthood," says Michael Breus, PhD. "Individual genetics, lifestyle habits, mental and physical health conditions—and a history of sleep habits and practices—all come together to make sleep in older age a complex, highly individual experience. My big takeaway for people at every age? Make the investment in your sleep, NOW. It's never too late to make improvements in your sleep that will benefit your health and performance. And the attention you give to healthy sleep today will pay off years, and decades, down the road."
Get Your COVID Boosters
Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters is especially important for people over 50, experts warn. "The older you are, the bigger the benefit," says Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at UCSF. "There's a clear association with age and mortality with COVID. It's really, really striking and it starts at age 50. Walk to get the second booster if you're eligible—walk a little faster the older you get."
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