By the time you turn 50, you will have amassed plenty of knowledge about how to keep yourself fit and healthy. You’ll know your own body well, and hopefully have a little extra time to devote to keeping yourself in great condition. Turning 50 (or more) is the time to put all of your hard-earned, healthy-living knowledge to work.
There are special health challenges for women, particularly over 50, that need some specific attention. None of these need to impact negatively on your life, but they shouldn’t be avoided.
Midlife will bring some special health challenges to women. The good news is that none of those challenges have to stop you from living a vibrant and productive life — for decades to come.
Keep your heart healthy
Heart disease is still the number one killer of women, and the risk does rise with age. Menopause can’t be entirely blamed for cardiovascular disease. Rather, the damage can be done by bad habits earlier in life (smoking, being overweight or sedentary).
A 2015 report in the US estimated that the so-called “heart age” (versus biological age) shows the average woman has a heart five years older than her actual chronological age. If she has high blood pressure (140 mm Hg or more), her heart’s “age” can be up to is 18 years older than she is.
Happily, changing your habits at any age can have a positive affect on heart health. Getting more exercise, eating healthily, losing weight, and giving up smoking, no matter what your age, will benefit your heart. Cutting out cigarettes can cut the risk of heart attack and stroke by up to 40% in the first five years as a non smoker!
Have your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose levels checked regularly and address any issues early. Problems can often be easily rectified in the early stages. Seek professional advice on weight loos, exercise and heart health – you don’t have to do it alone.
You don’t have to live with menopausal symptoms. Hormone therapy is one option, but there are many others, both natural and pharmaceutical. Given that symptoms can last up to 14 years, it is best to seek advice – that’s a long time to suffer in silence otherwise!
Sex doesn’t need to take a back seat
Sexual frequency can decline with age, but studies show shows even 75- to 85-year-olds had sex two to three times a month, with more than 20 percent reporting sexual relations at least once a week.
It’s important for women to remember that sex can be hugely beneficial to their bodies, minds and spirits. Despite some physical challenges, sexual relationships can actually improve as people age as women no longer need to worry about pregnancy.
There’s no need for the middle aged spread
First, the bad news, yes your metabolism does slow with age, but with a change in attitude and activity, there is no rule that says your waistline has to expand. The risk of weight gain rises due to advancing age, due to energy expenditure decreasing during menopause, leading to loss of muscle and also hormonal changes. If you eat the same things and exercise the same amount as you did in your thirties, you can still potentially gain weight, but with good advice, you can adjust your exercise routine (the body loves a change of routine) and tweak your eating habits.
Pack your diet full of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, and be aware of what you are putting on your plate.
Develop a new sense of purpose
“Purpose” provides structure to our lives and once children leave home, you finish work or you shift to a quieter community, your identity can suffer. Develop new hobbies, keep interested in making friends and work hard to maintain an interest in world events, or immerse yourself in your community.
It’s these small things that can pay some big dividends. Remember too much time on your hands is not necessarily a good thing. Keep your brain stimulated and your body active.
Be open to innovation
There are so many new screening procedures available to monitor your health. Ask your GP for advice on what your should be checking, and how frequently. Prevention is always your best bet.
Keep yourself looking and feeling amazing and actively enjoy life.