Living a healthy lifestyle is always a wise idea, regardless of your age, but staying healthy over the age of 50 is even more important for your health and well-being.
Your body will gradually start to change as you get older, making it more difficult for you to get around, process your food and recover from illness. You will also be more likely to suffer from conditions such as high blood pressure and osteoporosis.
The good news is that you can be proactive about your own health. Here are some of the measures you can take to stay fit and well into your old age.
Modify your diet to meet your needs
As you get older, it’s only natural to feel less interested in food, especially if you are not as active as you used to be. However, a healthy diet is essential as it holds the key to disease prevention. Osteoporosis is a major health problem for many people over the age of 50, yet a calcium-rich diet will keep your bones healthy, helping you to avoid the condition.
Constipation and other digestive problems also tend to become more of a nuisance as you increase in age, but a fibre-rich diet containing plenty of wholegrain foods will assist you in keeping toilet troubles at bay.
Engage in regular physical activity
If you fail to stay active, the activities you have always enjoyed doing will start to become harder to manage. You may struggle to pursue some of life’s most enjoyable pastimes, such as playing with your grandchildren or walking to the shops. You might even start to suffer aches and pains that you never had before.
If you want to stay pain-free and independent well into your old age, you will need to keep moving. While any form of physical activity is better than none, you should ideally aim to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderately intense activity every week.
Unfortunately, daily chores, such as cooking and shopping, do not count towards your 150 minutes because they do not tend to increase your heart rate beyond its resting level. However, you do not need to join the gym to get your body moving – activities that will get your heart beating beyond its resting level include fast walking and heavy gardening.
Look after your eyesight
Your eyesight will change as you grow older, but if you attend regular eye tests with your optician, there is a better chance that your sight will remain clear well into your old age.
Once you reach the age of 60, you can have a free NHS eye test every two years, which will help you to check up on the health of your eyes. However, you should visit the optician every two years whether or not you are entitled to a free eye test.
Once you pass the age of 45, your eye muscles will start to weaken, and by the time you reach the age of 60, you will probably require reading glasses, if you do not already wear them. As you get older, you will also become more likely to suffer from eye problems such as cataracts, floaters and glaucoma.
A regular eye test will enable your optician to detect and treat these conditions in a timely manner, improving your quality of life and reducing your risk of falls.
Keep an eye on your blood pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects around one-quarter of the adult population, and among those over the age of 60, the proportion increases to one-half. It is mostly symptomless, and potentially very dangerous, significantly increasing your risk of a debilitating heart attack or stroke. The only way to detect high blood pressure is to allow a doctor or nurse to check your blood pressure with a simple test. If you do have high blood pressure, following a healthier lifestyle will reduce your risk of complications.
Contrary to popular belief, it is never too late to adopt and reap the benefits of a healthier lifestyle. Whether you choose to make massive or modest alternations to your diet and physical activity levels, the changes you make will help you to stay well for longer.