Health | Did You Know

7 Health Changes You Should Make In Your 50s And Beyond

ESPN

Getting older is a lot of things, including both exciting and scary.

Most people don't think of "fun" when they're blowing out more than 50 candles on a birthday cake.

But there's no reason getting old has to be a pain in the butt (or the back, neck, knees, etc.).

If you make a few changes, it's easy to age gracefully and stay fit after you retire.

And isn't that what we all want?

1. Take more naps

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How much sleep do you really need? Probably more than you're getting.

To begin with, adults actually need more than eight hours of sleep, despite what you've been told. Sleep experts say to aim for nine hours in bed every night.

And when you don't get your 40 winks each night, it starts to take a toll on your body.

Your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels all spike when you're sleep deprived.

Plus, sleep removes stress hormones that damage our brain, protecting us from Alzheimer's and dementia.

If you need one more excuse to tuck yourself in early, hormonal imblances caused by losing sleep can also make you gain weight.

2. Train your brain

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Everyone wants to avoid developing dementia or Alzheimer's disease as they get older.

But even doctors are still unsure exactly what causes these conditions.

The one thing they can say for sure is that regular exercise, low blood pressure, and brain training seem to ward off memory loss.

While most people think of crossword puzzles and Sudoku, training your brain can actually be fun.

Learning to play a musical instrument, studying a second language, and even drinking wine can strengthen your memory.

Invest time in a mentally challenging hobby to protect your brain.

Check out these next tips to make sure you're heart stays healthy...

3. Get regular checkups

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Despite all of the diseases and conditions that crop up during old age, most people still avoid seeing their doctor.

A young person can afford to skip their checkups for a few years, but this bad habit will catch up with you.

Diabetes screenings, thyroid tests, and even eye exams become much more important as you age.

Ask your doctor if there are any important tests you need to take, and give yourself a quick self-checkup at home once a month.

When you feel something is wrong, don't hesitate to go to the doctor. Trust your gut.

4. Hit the gym

Alton Telegraph

Diabetes. Heart disease. Osteoporosis. Do any of these conditions sound fun to you?

These diseases all become more common as you get older, but they can also be prevented with regular exercise.

Despite this, 28% of Americans 50 and older are not active at all.

Get off the couch, even if it's just to walk around your block or so some light aerobic exercise.

Aim to do 2 hours and 30 minutes of exercise each week, and include weight training to keep your bones strong.

5. Focus on heart health

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Heart disease is the #1 most common cause of death in America, responsible for nearly a quarter of all deaths across the country.

But even with such scary numbers, most Americans don't pay any extra attention to heart health as they age.

Your likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke gets even higher after age 50, so there's good reason to protect yourself.

Start exercising, cut down on carbs and sugar, and study the little-known symptoms of a heart attack so you know what to watch for.

Check out tip 6 & 7 to make sure you stay in tip top shape...

6. Look after your skin

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Hey, your looks are an important part of your health too.

Your skin depends on a hormone called collagen, and your body's collagen levels actually start dropping in your 20s.

But it's not to late to give your body a collagen boost.

Smoking, sunbathing, unhealthy food, and stress all damage your skin, so avoid them as much as possible.

Try to drink a good amount of water each day, and take your daily vitamins.

Consult a dermatologist if you want some extra help, but a healthy lifestyle creates healthy skin.

7. Respect your eyes

PXhere

So many people can't enjoy the independence and freedom of retirement because of their bad eyesight.

As you get older, parts of your eye naturally begin to break down and weaken.

Conditions like floaters, cataracts, night blindness, and eye pain also become more common.

But small, important changes can help protect your eyes for life.

Smoking and staring at your cell phone both damage your eyes.

Meanwhile, a healthy diet full of fish, leafy greens, and eggs will give your eyesight a natural boost.

Here are more helpful health stories:

[H/T: AARP, Life 24, RD]

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com