Staying mentally and physically active can be hard to manage as you creep up the age ladder. Wrinkles and reading glasses become the norm and you feel aches and pain in places you didn’t even know existed! Everyone ages differently and manages their lives differently, but age should never stop your motivation to live a full life.
Kim Acedo, health and self-care coach for women in their 50s and creator of Transformation: Wellness for Women explains that the body naturally begins to lose muscle and bone as we age, and life usually gets in the way before we can make necessary changes.
“Women in their 30s and 40s tend to neglect their health and self-care because they’re busy growing a family and tending to their careers,” Kim explains.
“When they reach their 50s, they begin to revaluate their health and self-care because not only have life circumstances changed, but they also begin to go through different body changes too.”
“By the time women hit the big ‘five zero’, most, if not all, have tried to get healthy, whether it be losing weight or getting fit at some point in their lives. This can result in trying all sorts of diets and exercise regimes,” Kim says.
“Most of these changes don’t last because often the change they’re trying to make is initially too big and overwhelming. Instead, it’s all about making small, incremental progress, instead of trying to do too much.”
Kim highlights that there are perks to getting older, and staying motivated in your 50’s can be much easier than originally thought. Have a look at the ageing benefits, the not-so-great part of getting older and how you can stay focused well into your 50s.
Motivating your metabolism
The benefits: Your metabolism can slow by up to 5 per cent every 10 years or so however, this doesn’t mean you’ll put on your weight as soon as you get older. Just like in your 30’s and 40’s, if you keep active and cut calories then you’ll still be able to maintain a healthy weight.
The not-so-great news: You could begin to secrete less hydrochloric acid, which in turn decreases the availability of vitamin B12 and slows down your metabolism. Additionally, your stomach can begin to empty more slowly, which can increase the rise of reflux. See which foods are rich in B12 and ask your doctor what types of supplements you should start taking.
The solution: Eat more fibre and drink more water! Start an exercise regime on top of that and keep well ahead of the age game.
Keeping those bones, joints and muscles in shape
The benefits: If you’ve been an active person for most of your life, your bones, joints and muscles can still stay in pretty great form during your 50’s. Exercise is the solution to keeping strong inside and out, so keep active.
The not-so-great news: Getting older and doing less activity can lead to sore joints due to the wearing down of cartilage which can in turn create weaker muscles.
The solution: It’s a fairly simple yet effective regime to keep up: maintain a normal weight and don’t neglect strength training. Taking part in moderate weight training can help bones grow stronger and denser, protecting the body from bone fractures and osteoporosis. Additionally, chatting to your doctor about vitamin D and calcium supplements can keep bones healthy.
“In my experience, women in their 50s are not only concerned with looking their best, but they also want to feel and perform at their best so that they can enjoy their lives without aches and pains,” Kim explains.
“What’s more, they realise that a healthy body will allow them to experience a more joyful life – they enjoy movement with more ease. This means having more fun on vacation, keeping up with the grandkids, and being able to live an active lifestyle.”
A strong heart matters most
The benefits: Did you know that an older heart can pump around the same volume of blood as a younger one can if it’s kept healthy? Don’t underestimate how strong an aged heart can really be!
The not-so-great news: Heart disease accounts for a high proportion of deaths among men and women aged 65 years and older. A skipped beat or racing heart can mean a risk of stroke so make sure to check it with your doctor before turning 60!
The solution: Just keep moving – doing moderately intense activity a few hours a week can lower your chance of heart disease or stroke. It all links back to getting physically active. Also keeping your cholesterol low can help ward off any risks of heart attacks.
Sensing changes to your life
The benefits: Maintaining your lifestyle is crucial to help maintain your senses as you age. Staying away from loud noises and eating a balanced diet all contribute towards looking after your senses. Your sense of smell or hearing won’t go downhill if you look after yourself properly.
The not-so-great news: Hearing loss is something you’re going to have to watch out for as it’s one of the more common senses to be affected with age. Once you’ve reached the age of 60, the ability to hear high-frequency noises begins to deteriorate. It may be time to get tested for hearing aids and consult your doctor what steps should be taken to get your senses back in order. Sometimes when you begin to climb up the age ladder, your eyes can also start to feel dry.
The solution: For dry eyes and improving sight in dim light, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants are here to help! Tuna, salmon and fish oil supplements can stop the dry eyed feeling and foods rich in antioxidants can help improve eye sight in general. You may begin to worry about your smell and taste, with your ability to taste flavours in foods depleting. The fix? Start increasing your seasonings and the amount of flavour you put into your dishes. Cuisines such as Indian and Thai have a range of spices and herbs that can help to put the taste back into your favourite meals.
Improving immunity through weight
The benefits: When you have allergies, this is usually because you have an over-reactive immune system. As you age, this becomes a thing of the past as your immune system because less sensitive and prone to developing allergies.
The not-so-great-news: Your immune system can be less sensitive as you age. However, this can also mean you are more susceptible to viruses and falling ill. Chronic inflammation can become a significant and common issue as you get older and can make it even harder for the body to create an effective immune system response.
The solution: To improve immunity, exercise more, shed the excess weight and eat a well-balanced diet. Fighting off sickness and maintaining a strong immune system is all about keeping healthy and staying at a good weight.
“When you instil healthy habits into your life, you don’t have to constantly motivate yourself. No longer do you have to “make” yourself get to bed at a decent time or go exercise or choose that healthy meal, because you’ve created a system in your life that has built these healthy habits already,” Kim explains.
“… It takes anywhere between 21 days and a year to develop a new healthy habit. Even 21 days is a long time to try to create a new healthy habit on your own!”
“Because it’s hard to do on your own, what happens is you end up quitting too soon. You quit before you’ve solidified that new habit. But, this is not why most women think they quit,” Kim says.
“You quit because you believe you weren’t motivated enough, but this simply isn’t true. Instead, what is missing is outside accountability, support, and guidance…”
Don’t worry, be happy!
The benefits: Well here’s some good news relating to your emotional wellbeing: as you age, you get a lot happier! In 2012, AARP released a study on what defines happiness and it explained how from your early 50’s and beyond, happiness increases significantly over time. One of the possible explanations for this happy statistic was that we accumulate years of experience as we age. We appreciate the good times a lot more and get through the bad times more smoothly.
The not-so-great news: As you begin to age, you may subconsciously stay away from stressful situations as this may hinder your happiness levels and harm your body (e.g. increased chance of heart attack). However, this may mean missing out on new opportunities and social occasions.
The solution: Keep building strong connections with friends and family and try to face future challenges with greater resilience. Don’t let situations and other people affect your happiness levels negatively; stay positive and enjoy the aging process!
“It’s important for women to have a community of like-minded and like-hearted friends. Our environment and who we spend the most time with is key to maintaining health and happiness throughout our lives,” Kim explains
“It’s also imperative that women continue to grow and evolve on the inside, while they’re taking care of their physical health. The two really go hand-in-hand.”
“When you start to take care of yourself physically, you start to pay attention to how you feel about yourself emotionally. After building your confidence, start saying “yes” to things that are going to move you towards the woman you want to be, and “no” to things that move you away from that.”
Staying the sharpest tool in the shed
The benefits: The development and growth of new brain cells, which are known as Neurogenesis, can continue into adulthood and even into your 60’s according to Live Science. So, your capacity to learn new things and accumulate knowledge stays strong as you age.
The not-so-great news: As you reach your 50’s and even 60’s, your brain can begin to burn out and your ability to access to memories becomes a much slower process. Remembering events and sometimes daily tasks can become a real struggle.
The solution: Losing your memory can be avoidable through regular mental stimulation, social interactions and plenty of physical exercise. Keeping the mind sharp through these three components will help to prevent memory loss. Try not to worry too much if you find yourself opening up a cabinet or looking for something you lost and you forget why you were doing this in the first place. Forgetfulness is something that happens to everyone as they age and this doesn’t mean you are looking at something more serious. Alzheimer’s can become prevalent in your 70’s or even 80’s but again, the best prevention plan is keeping intellectually stimulated, maintaining a regular exercise regime and seeing lots of friends and family.
50 is the new 30: How to maintain those healthy habits every day
“When you start and stop getting healthy over and over again, it’s not only discouraging and frustrating, but it can make you feel like a failure so you don’t want to try again,” Kim explains.
“Be open to not only trying something new, but realise that there’s no magic pill. It’s really all about creating lifestyle changes that include better sleep, food, mood, and exercise habits.”
“It’s all about your habits in the end; what you do (or don’t do) on a daily basis,” Kim says.
“With medicinal and technological advances, it won’t be uncommon for women and men to live several decades past their 50s. So, it’s important to recognise that it’s not all downhill from here.”
“There is still so much life left to live. How those years are lived is greatly dependent on how you take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.”
What gets you motivated every day? Have any advice on how to start a new healthy habit as you age? Share some of your motivational advice on our Facebook page!