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Over 50? Stop Doing These Things Immediately, Says Science

These habits are seriously undermining your health.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Healthy aging is about more than just living longer—it's about thriving as we age. "People may live longer but not be in good health," says Robert Mankowski, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Florida Health College of Medicine Institute of Aging. "We're not really interested in extending life span; we're more interested in extending healthspan." Here are five things to stop doing after 50, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Exercising Less

Tired senior woman after jogging. Tired senior woman resting after running outdoors. African female runner standing with hands on knees. Fitness sport woman resting after intensive evening run

Exercise is important for preventing age-related health conditions and maintaining bone health. "Exercise in our 50s is crucial and vital for later on in life because of one word in particular — independence," says Damien Joyner, an ACE-certified personal trainer, active aging specialist, and founder of Incremental Fitness. "Independence means being able to carry out everyday life activities with little to no help. We need to be able to do chores, pick up groceries, lift things and put them somewhere else. As we age, we should not have to avoid stairs, curbs, uneven surfaces, or other natural or man-made physical obstacles we have in our daily lives."


Sleeping Less

couple sleeping

Don't allow sleep to become an afterthought over 50—the American Heart Association just added healthy sleep to its cardiovascular health checklist,  "Sleep is essential to every process in the body, affecting our physical and mental functioning the next day, our ability to fight disease and develop immunity, and our metabolism and chronic disease risk," says Erica Jansen, PhD. "Sleep is truly interdisciplinary because it touches every aspect of health."


Too Much Sugar and Salt

pouring sugar into coffee

A diet high in salt and sugar can put strain on heart health, doctors say. "We need carbohydrates, but not necessarily processed sugars," says Dr. Mankowski. "As we age, blood pressure has a tendency to start going up," says Sandra Arevalo, dietician and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "If we continue eating the same amount of salt, we're making our heart work harder."


Don't Skip Health Screenings

middle-aged man chatting with doctor

"One way to care for yourself is by getting routine health care in your 50s," says David B. Samadi, MD. "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."


Drinking Too Much Alcohol

drinking alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol is bad for your health at any age, but it's especially dangerous for older adults, experts say. "It's about age 50 that these biological processes start happening," says Alexis Kuerbis, associate professor at Hunter College of the City University of New York. "Just like our eyesight might fail or hearing might fail, our perceptions are failing. We can't sense that we're getting more intoxicated as we age. We think we're fine."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan
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