What are the secrets to aging well in your 50s and beyond? I want to know! Don’t you? In fact, the older I get, the more important it is to me! Like you, I want to live well and be healthy and strong enough to do everything I want to do. And not just physically! I want to live with purpose, energy, and joy.
Advice for aging well is everywhere, and it can get overwhelming! With advice out there on the importance of everything from flossing well to adequate hydration, it feels like you could spend all day, every day just focusing on doing things to increase your longevity! I don’t want to live so focused on aging well that I miss being present in the moment!
I don’t want to overcomplicate things! So, instead, I’ve chosen to focus on five main things as I seek to age well. Today, I’m sharing those with you!
1. Aging Well Over 50: Exercise
Things like your age, physical condition, underlying health conditions, and more will determine what you can and can’t do when it comes to exercise. But one thing is for sure: everybody can (and should) do something. Aerobic exercise (exercise that raises your heart rate) is the most effective, but building muscle and maintaining flexibility aren’t far behind. Here are just a few of the benefits of exercise:
- Slows cell aging by turning off the aging process in your chromosomes.
- Keeps skin healthy by increasing blood flow, boosting oxygen saturation, and eliminating waste.
- Reduces the risk of falls by improving flexibility.
- Boosts mental capacity by boosting the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
- Keeps metabolism high by increasing muscle mass, thus enhancing our calorie burn.
- Improves posture by building bone density and reducing muscle loss.
- Lowers cancer risk and reducing its spread after diagnosis.
- Reduces stress by allowing us to bounce back more quickly from stressful events.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not a fan of exercise! But I do it 4-5 days a week. I use the low-impact workouts at Team Body Project because of the wide variety of easy-to-follow workouts and the fun and encouraging instructors. (Not sponsored.) I even wrote a blog post about the five basic exercises that form the foundation of my fitness routine.
2. Aging Well Over 50: Eat Healthy Food (Most of the Time!)
Whether your diet is based on health issues, allergies, or preferences, if you’re truly committed to aging well over 50, you need to approach eating with some kind of plan. In THIS post, I wrote about the various diets from keto to vegan and everything in between. In THIS post, I shared what I eat (or not, as the case may be!)
A recent New England Journal of Medicine study found that people who simply added some healthy foods to their existing diets lowered their risk of premature death.
3. Aging Well Over 50: Sleep
When it comes to aging well over 50, according to a recent sleep study of over 1 million people over six years, seven hours seems to be the sweet spot for promoting longevity. Unfortunately, up to 40% of us don’t get those seven hours. Crucial healing happens during sleep, including things like:
- Decreased cortisol production (which is why you can fall asleep stressed and wake up less stressed!).
- Surges in rejuvenating growth hormones.
- Flushing out of Amyloid plaque (proven to contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s)
The latest tool in the battle over insomnia is something called “sleep restriction.” Have you heard of it? It’s basically cognitive behavioral therapy for sleep! Here’s how it works: You go to bed later than usual, restricting the total time you’re in bed. (This increases your ability to fall and stay asleep.) For example, if you typically go to bed at 11 p.m. and get up at 8 a.m. (but only sleep six hours), limit your time in bed, sleeping from 12 a.m.-6 a.m., for example. Then slowly adjust your sleeping time by 15 minutes a week or so until you reach seven to eight hours.
4. Aging Well Over 50: Learn & Do Something Hard
Neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett, Ph.D., the author of 7½ Lessons About the Brain, studies people over 65 who can remember things better than most people their age. She’s found that those individuals tend to get “out of their comfort zones” and challenge themselves with bouts of strenuous mental effort. She says endless rounds of sudoku or crossword puzzles don’t “stress” the brain enough to keep it healthy. Instead, consider something like learning a foreign language, taking up a musical instrument, or teaching yourself something challenging online, like how to shoot and edit a video. (I recommend BeeCut online software or the BeeCut app.)
5. Aging Well Over 50: Find Your Purpose
You’ve probably heard about the longest-living women from Okinawa, Japan. They attribute much of their longevity to something they call ikigai, which roughly translates as “a reason to get up in the morning.” Multiple studies have confirmed having a sense of purpose in your life lowers inflammation and the stress level cortisol.
I recently wrote a step-by-step plan, detailing how I discovered my sense of purpose in the empty nest, and I shared some of the same principles on the How’d She Do That? Podcast.
I want to live as long and as well as I can! Don’t you! When I was younger, I was worried about my longevity for the sake of my children. I didn’t want to leave them before I felt “finished.” But now, I’m committed to aging well because I want to enjoy the fruit of those years of hard work. I love what I do here at Empty Nest Blessed! It has definitely fulfilled my sense of purpose, and caused me to learn and do something hard. (Of course, it’s also interfered with my sleep a few times because I’m constantly thinking of things I want to share with you!) Thanks for joining me here on this journey to age well! I am so grateful for each of you, and I don’t tell you that enough.
What are you doing to age well over 50? I’d love to know! Leave me a comment and share, okay?