What to Do When You Turn 50
So you have reached 50. You are getting those over the hill jokes and maybe they are just a bit close to home. After all, you are seeing and feeling the effects of aging. We are going to talk about what to do when you turn 50.
Do you realize that, with average life expectancy in the U.S. now at 78, you might have more than one third of your life still ahead? Your 50s are the right time to make some changes to set the stage for your health and happiness for the remainder your life.
You have a lifetime of wisdom and experience to draw on. The major adulthood challenges of building a career, a home and raising your family are out of the way. You have more time on your hands.
This article provides a few guidelines on how to set a new course of tackling bad habits, planning to do those things you always wished you had time for and adding some fun and adventure to your life.
More and more research is confirming the importance of staying active to slow the process of aging and reduce the chances of chronic diseases. Exercise will not only keep your body in shape, but also improve your energy and mood, enhance your brain function and sexual health.
The World Health Organization recommends 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise at least five times a week. The good news is that the type of exercise does not matter. You can choose something that you enjoy and alternate activities.
Activities you can try include:
Walking. A daily walk is not only good exercise but also reduces stress and stimulates the release of happy hormones.
- Strength training. This is necessary to maintain muscle tone, flexibility and balance. Do not picture yourself in a gym. There are excellent workout videos for all ages and levels of fitness available on YouTube. Or, be daring and take up pole dancing.
- Joining a sports club. Get back into the sport you excelled in when you were younger or learn something new. Today most sports have a Master’s division you can compete in.
- Work in your garden or play with your dog or grandchildren. The ultimate challenge – try to keep up with a toddler for 20 minutes.
Gaining weight is not a natural part of aging. It happens because we consume the same amount of calories although our metabolism is slowing down and we are also being less active.
Obesity has been linked to an increased risk of nearly all the chronic conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers.
Furthermore, getting all the nutrients we need to maintain our body functions becomes increasingly important as we age. From past experience you have probably learnt that strict fad diets do not work in the long term. You need to develop healthy eating habits which lead to gradual and sustained weight loss.
Tips for a healthier diet:
- Avoid high fat fast foods. Pack healthy lunches, get back to preparing food at home.
- Ditch the sugar. Eat smaller portions of starchy foods and consign sweet foods and drinks to occasional treats.
- Drink more water. Grab a bottle of water instead of high-sugar soda. Don’t like the taste? Try adding some flavor with fresh mint, lemon juice, ginger or slices of fruit.
- Turn healthy cooking into a hobby. Explore new recipes, with different tastes and textures, from across the world. Chopping, slicing and stirring can be also very relaxing after a busy day.
- Reduce your alcohol intake. Your liver is less able to process alcohol. Hangovers and other effects of too much alcohol become worse.
Exercise Your Brain
Keep your brain trained to help ward off age related loss of memory and thinking skills. Continue throughout your lifespan with activities that challenge your brain.
A few tips for keeping your brain active:
- Learn a new language. Choose from one of many languages on sites like duolingo that are simple, free and fun.
- Write. Write that book you have been planning in the back of your mind for years.
- Learn a new hobby or skill. Enroll in a course, join a club or even use YouTube videos to learn something you’ve always wanted to. Playing a musical instrument, astronomy, computer programming, photography, cake icing, painting, fashion design. The list is endless. Who knows, it might even lead to a second career.
- Play word and other brain games. This can include crossword puzzles, Sudoku, scrabble, chess and bridge.
Widen Your Social Circle
Social interaction has been linked to greater health, happiness and a longer life in older adults. Isolation and loneliness have been associated not only with mental illness, but also deteriorating physical health.
Maintain close bonds with your children and grandchildren. However, as they build their own lives they get busier and might even move away. This means that you also need to develop other social bonds.
You never know who might become your new best friend or just the right person to support you in a crisis. Get started on making connections by:
- Getting in back in touch with relatives and old friends. Connect on social media, then call them on the phone and even arrange a visit.
- Attending events and networks by going to functions like fundraisers at schools and churches, art exhibition openings, school reunions and concerts.
- Try volunteering. This not only gives you a sense of purpose but also an opportunity to make new friends.
- Talk to the people in your neighborhood instead of just greeting in passing, start talking to neighbors or the person at the supermarket check-out and get to know them.
Spice up Your Life With Adventures
When you get to your 50s, you usually have a bit more leisure time. Are you going to fill this time with more of the same or are you going to enjoy some fun and new experiences?
Revisit Simple Adventures
Go for a swim in a river, drive out to a vantage point to view a sunrise, make a bonfire on the beach, or go for a picnic.
Get a New Look
Change your hairstyle and even the color. Get that pink streak if you want to. Buy an outfit that you love but would not normally wear. The rule that people over 50 have to look dignified flew out the window a few decades ago.
What parts of your own country have you not seen yet? Plan an overseas trip. You might have been to Europe in your youth but you are bound to appreciate other sights now. Have you ever visited countries with a completely different culture like Africa or the East?
Take Up a Challenge
If you are physically fit and with professional support, you are not too old for experiences like scuba diving, sky diving and river rafting.
Create a Bucket List
There is no denying that our body and mind slow down as we age, but science is showing that the rate of decline is very closely linked to our lifestyle choices and at 50 it is not too late to make some changes.
You have done your duty as a responsible adult and parent. Instead of slowing down and getting stuck in a rut when you hit 50, release your suppressed inner child.
Make a bucket list of what to do when you turn 50. Then plan how you will reach these goals one step at a time.