8 ways to keep healthy after 50
It's time to look after your #1 asset – your health
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 eight tips that will have you feeling healthy from the inside out.
1. 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.
2. 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.
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. 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. Find out more about the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet.
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? Have no money for fancy ingredients and no time to cook? 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!
5. 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. Unfortunately, the ageing body does not cope as well with alcohol. 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.
6. 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!
7. 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.
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 quitnow.gov.au or call the Quitline on 13 78 48.
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.
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. The vaccine isn’t covered by Medicare, but it’s definitely worth considering.
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.