6 Healthy Habits to Help You Thrive After 50
Although your 50s can be a decade of significant change, they can also signal the start of the best years of your life. In fact, one recent survey of more than 2,000 adults found 50 to be the perfect overall age.1 Why? Well, by this time, you usually feel confident in your career, your kids are mostly grown, and you are ready to enjoy some much-deserved “me” time. And what better way to celebrate this remarkable time in your life than to be fabulously healthy, happy, and vibrant!
Staying healthy and fit after 50 may feel harder than it was in your 20s, but—now that you have the time to really appreciate and enjoy your health—the rewards of a well-lived, mindfully healthy life can be so much greater.
Here are six healthy habits that will help you navigate your fantastic 50s and beyond with vim and vigor:
1. Take care of your bones. Bone health is essential for both men and women in their 50s, but especially for women, whose changing hormone levels before and during menopause can lead to decreased bone density and increased risk of fractures. Support your healthy bones with a diet high in bone-healthy superheroes calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin K—if you struggle to get enough of these nutrients in your diet, look for a food-based supplement. Also focus on weight-bearing exercise (like walking, jogging, weight training, or hiking) to build new bone tissue that strengthens your entire skeletal system.
2. Stay active. Moderate exercise not only benefits your muscles, bones, and heart, but did you know that staying physically active can also keep your brain young? You see, the hippocampus—the part of your brain associated with memory—shrinks as you get older (1-2% each year!), often leading to cognitive impairment in your later years. The good news is that researchers are finding that just 40 minutes of brisk walking three times per week leads to significant brain growth. In one study, adults who participated in aerobic exercise saw a more than 2% increase in the size of their hippocampus over one year, in contrast to a 1.4% decline in subjects who only stretched.2
3. Get just enough sleep. Quality sleep can be elusive in your 50s, as you contend with hormone changes and age-related joint and muscle stiffness that can disturb your precious slumber. Fortunately, more isn’t always better when it comes to sleep in your 50s and beyond. In fact, research studies conclude that the “sweet spot” of sleep for older adults is between 6.5 and 7.5 hours, and is associated with longer lifespans than more than eight or less than six hours.3 So, fret not if you struggle to get the commonly recommended eight; seven solid hours may be all you need at this age!
4. Eat Mediterranean-Style. A Mediterranean diet—high in plant-based fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fish, plus plenty of healthy fats like olive oil—is associated with a bevy of benefits for older adults, including improved heart health and metabolism. But, did you know that focusing on this healthy fare can also reduce the risk of hip fractures and keep your brain from shrinking? In one study of more than 90,000 participants, adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with increased bone health and lower fracture risk in postmenopausal women.4 In another trial, eating Mediterranean-style led to less age-related brain atrophy, comparable to five fewer years of aging when compared to brains of people who did not follow the eating plan!5
5. Train your brain. Whether you prefer learning a new language, crossword puzzles, sudoku, or online brain games, research shows that taking the time to engage your brain in your 50s and beyond can have significant benefits for your cognitive function. In one large study involving 7,000 people in their 50s and older, six months of daily brain training led to significant improvements in memory, reasoning, and the ability to carry out daily tasks—all areas that can decline with age.6 Look for brain-stimulating puzzles in books or newspapers, or dive into one of the many online brain training programs designed for older adults.
6. Live a probiotic-rich life. Having a healthy gut teeming with diverse populations of beneficial bacteria is truly the foundation of both physical and emotional health for every age, but it’s of vital importance as you enter your later years. You see, as we get older we are meant to have thriving colonies of probiotics in our gut, especially Bifidobacteria, which produce vitamins and enzymes, and support our immune system, a strong gut barrier, joint and bone health, and healthy metabolism. What’s more, the probiotics in our gut can help with and support many other aspects of our life that contribute to healthy aging, like restful sleep, memory, and even energy and endurance, so we can exercise and stay physically active.
The problem is that aging itself—along with lifestyle factors like diets high in processed foods, antibiotic use, overzealous hygiene habits, and using antibacterial cleaners—can deplete the good bacteria we need to keep us healthy.
To keep your beneficial bacterial friends in the majority, stay away from probiotic depletors and support your friendly flora by supplementing with a high-quality probiotic like Hyperbiotics PRO-Bifido, specifically designed for adults ages 50 and older. Thanks to its patented time-released delivery, PRO-Bifido delivers seven strains of live probiotics deep into your gut, where they can set up shop to support your overall well-being, helping you age gracefully and in vibrant health.
You’ve worked hard to earn the confidence and wisdom that comes with living for half a century, so go on, enjoy every minute of it and live your happiest, healthiest days! Eating and sleeping well, exercising, challenging your brain, and supporting your friendly microbes within will give your body and mind the tools they need for you to thrive well into the second half of your very own century.
1. Harris Interactive. (2013). The Harris Poll. Retrieved from http://www.theharrispoll.com/health-and-life/Is_Fifty_the_Perfect_Age_.html
2. Sayal, N. (2015). Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory. Annals of Neurosciences, 22(2). doi:10.5214/ans.0972.7531.220209.
3. Kripke, D. F., Langer, R. D., Elliott, J. A., Klauber, M. R., & Rex, K. M. (2011). Mortality related to actigraphic long and short sleep. Sleep Medicine, 12(1), 28-33.
4. Haring, B., Crandall, C. J., Wu, C., Leblanc, E. S., Shikany, J. M., Carbone, L., . . . Wassertheil-Smoller, S. (2016). Dietary Patterns and Fractures in Postmenopausal Women. JAMA Internal Medicine, 176(5), 645.
5. Gu, Y., Brickman, A. M., Stern, Y., Habeck, C. G., Razlighi, Q. R., Luchsinger, J. A., . . . Scarmeas, N. (2015). Mediterranean diet and brain structure in a multiethnic elderly cohort. Neurology, 85(20), 1744-1751.
6. Corbett, A., Owen, A., Hampshire, A., Grahn, J., Stenton, R., Dajani, S., . . . Ballard, C. (2015). The Effect of an Online Cognitive Training Package in Healthy Older Adults: An Online Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 16(11), 990-997.
Emily Courtney is a Writer and Editor at Hyperbiotics and mom to two fun and active boys. Emily is passionate about natural wellness and helping others learn about the power of probiotics for vibrant health! For more ideas on how you can benefit from the power of probiotics and live healthier days, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.