This year, the last of the baby-boomers will turn age 50. Millions of generation X-ers will reach the milestone in 2015. Here are five health tips for anyone turning age 50 (and for those who are already there):
- Schedule screenings. Beginning at age 50, your risk of developing many illnesses increases. Some – such as heart disease, cancer, hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes – can go unnoticed until something catastrophic happens. Preventative screenings help diagnose problems early, when treatment can be most effective. Schedule a doctor’s appointment today. Discuss which screenings are right for you. Get any vaccines you may need, such as those for the flu, pneumonia, shingles or tetanus.
- Make diet decisions. Pay more attention to your diet. Cut back on the amount sodium (salt) you consume. Limit foods that are high in unhealthy fat and load up on fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats (omega 3s), whole grains and fiber each day.
- Energize with exercise. Beginning at age 50, you lose muscle mass at the rate of about half a pound per year – especially if you don’t exercise to retain it. Get at least 30 – 60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week, including aerobic exercise for heart health and weight-bearing exercise to lower your risk for osteoporosis. Find activities you enjoy – you’ll be more likely to stick with it. Talk to your doctor before you begin any exercise program.
- Boost your brain. Being mentally strong is another way to stay healthy for years to come. Learn a new computer skill. Try thinking games such as chess and Scrabble. Do crossword puzzles or Sudoku. Find a walking partner, study a topic and discuss it on your walks.
- Reinvigorate with rest. Sleeping patterns often change as you get older, but good sleep is important for good health – at any age. Adjust your bedtime to match when you feel tired, even if that’s earlier than it used to be. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and cool. Aim for at least eight hours a night.