As you move into your 50s, you may find yourself reflecting on your health and your lifestyle. Whether you’ve picked up a handful of unhealthy habits over the years or you’re still fighting the good fight for health, you may find that your body responds a bit differently than it did in your youth. You may have to work a bit harder to stay fit and focused.
Aging well involves understanding your mind and body at this key point in your life and narrowing your focus to the choices that lead to health and well-being. Take a look at some healthy lifestyle choices you can make right now to keep you thriving into the future.
Commit to Resistance Training
The more you force your muscles to move weight in some way, the stronger those muscles get. That’s true at any age. And as you move weight — whether through moving your own body weight, lifting weights in the gym, or carrying anything from lumber on a construction site to groceries through a parking lot — you also move your bones, making them stronger as well.
That movement of weight constitutes resistance training, which is key to keeping your body strong as you age. Your body naturally loses muscle starting in your 30s, but you don’t have to accept that as a done deal. In fact, many medical studies confirm that resistance training has a powerful effect when it comes to combating the frailty that can come with age and in keeping muscles strong.
When you commit to resistance training, you should prioritize safety. That often means setting aside time for recovery and adding weight slowly. After all, you have nothing to prove. Remember that moving weight doesn’t have to mean lifting free weights. You might choose to work with kettle bells or elastic resistance bands to build and maintain muscle. And don’t neglect the power of working against your own body weight through pushups, sit-ups and crunches, pull-ups and squats. Aim to work all your major muscle groups two to three days a week for best results.
Don’t Ignore Aerobic Training
Lifting weights isn’t all your body needs. Your cardiovascular system also needs to get a regular workout if you’re going to stay fit and thrive into your 50s and beyond. If you can get your heart rate going faster than average for about three hours a week, you’re hitting the minimum you need to stay healthy. Running is a great choice, but it’s not your only one. Walking, basketball, tennis, swimming, biking or even doing yard work count toward your weekly aerobic activity.
Add a little extra cardio to your everyday routine as well to build up your cardiovascular strength. Park at the far end of the parking lot, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and walk your dog yourself. When you combine aerobic activity with muscle-strengthening resistance, you give your body the full workout it’s been craving.
Of course, this advice can apply to you in an emotional or psychological sense — but here, we’re talking (mostly) about your body. As you age, you may start to feel it in your joints. Staying flexible and limber is key to avoiding that joint stiffness that advertises to the world that you’re growing older.
Start and end each workout (both aerobic and strength training) with some stretching. You can do basic stretching at home — it’s a great way to start each day, so you get your blood flowing and head to work feeling relaxed and confident. Many men turn to yoga, Pilates, or tai chi to keep limber. The more flexible you are, the more confident you will feel on a daily basis.
Watch Your Diet
As you move into your 50s, you’re probably all too aware that you can’t eat the way you did in college. Instead of the junk food that fueled you into your 20s, it’s time to opt instead for whole grains, lean proteins, and fruits and veggies. As you age, your risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, and obesity all increase — and that healthy diet will make a huge difference.
Aim for foods that are low in trans fats, cholesterol, saturated fats, sugar and salt. Look for foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and walnuts, to boost your HDL (good) cholesterol, or take an omega-3 fatty acid.
You should also pay attention to the nutrients that your body needs in small doses. These include vitamin D to help your bones, as well as zinc and magnesium. Zinc boosts your immune system, and it’s also good for your testosterone levels. Magnesium powers lots of enzyme production and reactions throughout your body. You can take in enough of these nutrients through food, but you may want to opt for supplements to make sure you’re getting what you need.
See Your Doctor Regularly
A lot of men avoid seeing the doctor regularly — but your doctor, especially at a men’s health clinic, can be the greatest partner and advocate for your health that you can find. Yes, you should make an appointment for a yearly physical, but that’s just the beginning. All too often, men ignore symptoms or warning signs until things get serious. So get your colonoscopy when your doctor recommends it, and take that PSA blood test to check for possible prostate problems. Your doctor may also want to keep an eye on your heart, possibly through coronary calcium tests.
That’s not all, though. When you start to feel yourself fatiguing easily or you experience unexpected problems in the bedroom, you don’t have to shrug your shoulders and say, “Well, this is just how things are now.” You’re not on your own. Your men’s health doctor is the expert you can go to when you don’t understand why you’re feeling so tired, why your brain feels foggy, why you’re having trouble sleeping, why your sex drive isn’t as strong as it used to be. It’s very possible that what you’re seeing are all symptoms of the same condition. Many men, for example, experience this combination of symptoms because they have testosterone deficiency, which can occur easily as a result of the natural drop in testosterone that begins in your 30s. When you make a doctor’s appointment, you can look into all the symptoms that don’t seem worth worrying about but that diminish your quality of life overall.
Your body is something like 70% water, so it’s no surprise that you need to stay hydrated to stay healthy. But most men don’t get nearly the amount of water their bodies crave. In fact, when you feel hungry, what you may really be sensing is thirst — your body wants water, but you interpret it as wanting food. Keep a water bottle with you so you can just keep sipping throughout the day.
And when we say water, we mean water. Yes, you may enjoy the fizz and the flavor of soda. But soda doesn’t hydrate you the water water does, and it can actually be pretty bad for your health. It may increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes and prostate cancer, and it certainly promotes weight gain (yes, even diet sodas can result in weight gain). So stick with water. You can go for carbonated water if you prefer, or add a little juice, lemon, berries or even tea to your water to heighten the taste and enjoyment.
Keep Your Mind Sharp
As you age, your body isn’t the only part of you that needs exercise. Keep your brain healthy as well by taking classes in a subject that’s always interested you, doing the crossword puzzle every day, studying a new language, or learning some new skills.
What you eat also feeds into your brain’s health. Opt for healthy fats, such as olive oil, and lean into a diet of whole grains, nuts, berries, fish, and beans to boost your brain health and lower later risk of Alzheimer’s disease. And remember that brain fog or lack of concentration can be a symptom of a systemic issue, so a visit to your men’s health clinic may be a good idea.
Stay Fit at Any Age With Texas Men’s Health Group
Aging brings with it some real challenges — but staying fit can become a regular part of your lifestyle when you commit to the habits that promote health and well-being. It doesn’t matter how you treated your body when you were younger — you can begin healthy habits at any age. And you’ll see the results at any age, as well.
At Texas Men’s Health Group, we want to help you find your path to personal wellness. For many men, that involves optimizing hormones to be able to boost your energy level, revive your libido, embrace mental clarity, encourage sleep, and facilitate weight loss. Whether you’re interested in exploring the new wonder drug semaglutide to burn off belly fat or you want to explore your testosterone levels, we are here to help you on your journey to health and well-being. Contact us today to see how we can help make your 50s your best decade ever.