There is one true adage that time waits for no-one and whilst you might not be able to turn back the hands of time you can certainly slow them down, at least in regards to your aging process.
As we get older, our body begins to work less efficiently so more effort is necessary simply to maintain your health. But that doesn’t mean you should just accept that it is a downward slide until you are packed off to a retirement home, before finally ‘popping your clogs’.
On the contrary there are a number of choices you can make to slow down this aging process and allow you to enjoy your senior years to the full. As we age our metabolism slows down, the bad news is that it has been slowing down from your mid-twenties and so by the time you are in your fifties it has slowed by quite a bit, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept it.
#1. Get Yourself Checked
As you turn half a century, you are more likely to suffer from life-threatening conditions such as heart attacks and different forms of cancer.
High cholesterol and high blood pressure are common and both affect the health of your arteries and heart. It is important to stay healthy to keep these heart problems under control, but apart from keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol at safe levels, it is also important to safeguard against other conditions with early identification being key.
Below are a number of tests that both men and women should have regularly, especially when you reach your 50s.
- Cholesterol(ideally every 5 years)
- Blood Pressure(regularly)
- Blood sugar(to check for diabetes)
- Weight(maintain a healthy B.M.I.)
- Eye tests (every one to two years)
- Flu vaccination(annually)
- Rectal examination(to check for colon cancer every 10 years)
- Dental checks(regularly to check for gum disease)
- For women, regular mammograms(every 1-2 years) and cervical smears(1-3 years)
And for the over 65’ these additional tests are important.
#2. Watch Your Diet
Obesity and its’ subsequent problems will become the biggest cause of early yet preventable deaths over the next 50 years, so it is vital to keep an eye on your diet and begin to eat more healthily. Just being overweight has its’ own problems in that the heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body with the strain of the excess weight you might be carrying.
Try and keep your food intake at regular intervals aiming for 3 small meals with a small snack in between to keep your blood sugar levels constant and keep your energy up. Aim for a healthy balanced diet to include fresh vegetables, fruit juice, lean meats and fish.
It’s a fact that after 50, “Food just doesn’t taste the same anymore”. If you are feeling the same and are not able to get the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables, juicing fruits and vegetables can help you accomplish that. Of course, you had to purchase best mixers or juicer that would get the job done.
Reduce the amount of carbohydrates that you consume as in general we all eat far too much bread, pasta, rice and potatoes, not to mentions sweets, cakes and pasties. Try also to reduce trans-fats within your diet, often found in processed and takeaway foods.
Ideally, aim to eat fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel on 2 or 3 days each week to provide you with adequate Omega 3, as research suggests that diets rich in Omega 3 can help reduce the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
In the kitchen, swap your cooking oil high in saturates for monounsaturated olive oil or sunflower oil and increase your consumption of flax seeds, nuts and pumpkin and sunflower seeds. But if you don’t like fish and you are not into seeds then maybe you should consider supplementing your diet with a multi-vitamin, protein powders, omega-3 and evening primrose oil to keep you on track, even though you can’t beat the real thing.
#3. Use It, Don’t Lose It
In addition to the decline of our organs over time our skeletal system and muscles begin to degenerate, yet with minimal use this decline can be exaggerated. Our muscles begin to atrophy or ‘shrink’, we lose bone density, lose co-ordination and balance.
We have reduced respiratory and cardiovascular function and we lose flexibility and mobility in our joints. But it is never too late to start, health benefits can be seen in seniors up to the age of 80!
It is important to include activities to challenge your aerobic fitness, muscular strength and flexibility and co-ordination. The easiest way is to try and incorporate more activity into your daily life and just get moving a little more, whether this is a simple stroll around your local park or a spot of gardening.
Try walking more (where appropriate) instead of driving, using the stairs (when you can) instead of the escalator for example. The important thing is to stay active for overall fitness after 50.
Guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine suggest that you should aim for 30 minutes of activity that makes you a little breathless, on 5 or more days of the week. But this does not need to be all at once, health gains can be achieved in 3 x 10 minute brisk walks each day, for example.
But even if you can’t find 10 minutes, by creating opportunities to be active throughout the day you will increase your metabolism and keep your joints relatively subtle. This might be choosing to walk up and down the stairs during the ad breaks when watching television or maybe choosing to go to the water cooler every 30 minutes for a drink of water at the office.
Even deciding to get some of your weekly shop in stages from your local greengrocer, butcher or local supermarket can mean extra journeys and more activity for over 50 fitness.
Increasing your muscle strength through weight or resistance training will not only improve your bone density, but will also increase your metabolism as well, as muscle requires energy just to exist. Improvements in muscle strength and tone can be achieved in as little as 3 x Twenty Minute workouts each week.
The important thing though, is to start slowly, especially if you have not exercised for a few years. Perhaps begin with body weight exercises such as in our Armchair Workout and progress from there. Take a look at our Complete Workout Guide and take a look at Workouts for Beginners or Strength Training for Seniors. Getting the Balance Right, for further inspiration.