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10 ways to keep healthy after 50

It's time to look after your #1 asset – your health

healthy habit 50s_thumbnail
healthy habit 50s_thumbnail

Whether you’re juggling full-time work, enjoying an early retirement, helping to support your ageing parents or looking after your grandchildren, life after 50 can be a busy time with many conflicting priorities.

And while your arithmetic skills, vocabulary, body image and wisdom all get better with age, you might find your body isn’t quite what it used to be. It’s important to remember that not all physical changes are inevitable as you age; with the right diet and exercise you can avoid or slow down some of these changes.

This is a time in your life where it’s never been more important to look after your most important asset – your health. That’s why we’ve put together nine tips that will have you feeling healthy from the inside out.

1. Stretch it out 

If it’s been a while since you attempted to touch your toes, your flexibility might need a bit of TLC. In addition to being a fun way to meet new people, a Tai Chi, yoga or Pilates class can help your flexibility, balance and agility, all of which are crucial to helping you avoid falls later on in life. If you’re a beginner, give these five simple morning stretches a try.

2. Make time for your health checks

By now you're hopefully in a good routine of getting your regular checkups like blood tests, dental exams, mammograms - the whole lot.

We understand life gets in the way so we've made it easy for you to keep on top of the list of health checks you need to keep feeling your best.

We've also created an easy way for you to get personalised insights and recommendations about your health in minutes with our free online HealthCheck!

3. Avoid sitting 

Whether it’s behind the wheel, at a desk or on the couch, sitting for long periods is a health risk. Set an hourly reminder to get up, stretch it out and walk about. Your mind and body will thank you for it. 

4. Drink in moderation 

If you want to sleep better, make fewer night-time bathroom trips and lower your risk of dementia, now is a good time to cut back your alcohol intake. The ageing body does not cope as well with alcohol either. This doesn’t mean you have to quit drinking altogether, but it does mean you should be aiming for no more than one to two standard drinks per day. Find out more about the effects of alcohol on your health.

Ideally, it’s good to follow the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines to reduce risk of harm from alcohol related disease. That is, no more than 10 standard drinks a week, and no more than four standard drinks a day. (These guidelines are for those who do not deal with or are diagnosed with addiction illnesses. If you need support with alcohol, the Australian Government has curated a list of organisations that offer support, counselling and more). 

5. Move your body

We’re not expecting you to turn into Arnold Schwarzenegger overnight, but incorporating strength or resistance training into your weekly routine is crucial to maintaining muscle mass. Sarcopenia – the loss of muscle mass with age – can be partly offset by strength training; and exercising your muscles can actually reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

Try not to forget about aerobic exercise too. Improved sleep, blood pressure, immunity and mental health are just some of the benefits of cardio workouts.

Speak to your GP if you’ve got physical or health problems before starting an exercise program, and discuss your ability to achieve around 30 minutes each day. You may need to work up to it, depending on your baseline fitness.

Stuck for inspiration? We've rounded up a host of exercise and movement tips to get you started.

6. Eat a healthy diet

A balanced diet, low in saturated fats and high in vegetables, fruit and healthy whole grains, will set you up for the future. It’s no coincidence it’s the diet of choice in areas of the world where people live long and healthy lives like Ikaria in Greece and Sardinia in Italy, where this kind of diet is prevalent. Find out more about the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet.

Ideally, you should reduce the amount of refined foods and carbohydrates in your overall diet and eat as many whole foods as possible.

In addition, having enough calcium in your diet is important for both women and men to keep your bones strong and help prevent osteoporosis. In your 50s, the recommended amount of calcium is 1000 mg/day for men and is increased to 1300 mg/day for women. Foods rich in calcium include milk and milk products (yoghurt, cheese), leafy green vegetables, tofu, fish and nuts.

Looking to improve your diet, but sticking to a budget?nib foundation partner No Money No Time has you covered. Take the Healthy Eating Quiz today to see where you can improve your diet and unlock access to personalised recipes from leading Nutrition and Dietetics experts – all without paying a cent!.

7. Prioritise sleep

From helping you maintain a healthy weight to improving your concentration and reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke, there are so many good reasons to prioritise hitting the hay; but it can be hard to get good quality sleep.

Plus, scientists now believe that while you sleep, your brain washes out harmful proteins like beta-amyloid which is linked to Alzheimer’s disease. If that doesn’t encourage you to catch some z’s, we’re not sure what will!

We've spoken with experts for their top sleep tips to get you get a better night's rest. Get access to the full suite of articles and advice.

8. Quit smoking

We’ll keep this one short and sharp – giving up smoking will be the best thing you do for your health. It’s never too late to quit. This includes vaping, which has a range of harmful effects on your body, like lung injury.

If your goal is to give up smoking, we want to help you achieve it; that’s why we offer Extras covers that include benefits for nicotine replacement therapies that are ordered by your GP, including gum, patches, inhalers and lozenges. The aim of these therapies is to help you quit by replacing some of the addictive nicotine you’d normally get through a cigarette to help ease the withdrawal symptoms.

For coping strategies and quitting methods, visit or call the Quitline on 13 78 48.

9. Keep your mind top of mind 

Embracing mental wellbeing should take centre stage as we age, especially as we navigate changes like watching the kids fly the coop or caring for our ageing parents. Managing this stress isn’t just important for overall mental health but can also help reduce our risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia later in life. 

Growing older doesn't automatically mean a decline in memory or cognitive abilities, there’s lots we can do to keep our minds active. Dive into activities that spark joy and curiosity like taking up a new hobby, learning something new or immersing yourself in social activities. 

Your investment in mental wellbeing now is the secret sauce for keeping your mind sharp as you get older. 

10. Stay up to date with your vaccinations

Your immune system probably isn’t quite the resistive force it once was when you were 30. That’s why it’s a good time to review your immunisations to make sure they’re up to date.

Getting the flu is never good, but once you’re over the age of 50, a flu infection could knock you around for weeks. To help reduce the chance of you getting sick, make sure you have an annual flu shot. 

Related: Everything you need to know about the flu vaccine

Plus, if you haven’t had a tetanus booster in the past 10 years, it’s recommended you get one. It comes as a combined booster for tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough, courtesy of Medicare.

And finally, consider vaccinating against shingles. This painful rash can be activated in anyone who’s had chickenpox previously.

Is it time for a health cover check-up?

At nib, we’re committed to keeping you at your healthiest, which is why we’ve put together a list of health checks that are important for people over 50.

Everyone’s health cover needs are different. To help you understand what level of cover is best suited to you, get in touch with our cover experts today to learn more about what people like you are commonly claiming on and what cover would be the best fit.