As you approach your 50s noticeable changes like loss of muscle, bone, collagen and a slower metabolism are inevitable. There’s no stopping the aging process, but with a few important lifestyle adjustments you can slow it down. Not This, Eat That! Health talked to highly regarded medical experts in the country to find out what to expect when you hit this milestone age and what advice they give for making the most of it healthwise. Read on to see 5 key things specialists recommend doing to stay in top shape and the health habits you should avoid if over 50—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Anyone 50-something can probably attest to experiencing a significant change in their body and Dr. Parham Yashar, MD FACS FAANS Board Certified Neurosurgeon at Dignity Health Northridge Hospital, explains what can occur in someone over 50. “Our cardiovascular risk increases as patients can develop coronary artery disease, atherosclerotic disease, hypertension—which is why it’s very important to obtain appropriate sleep, regular exercise, follow up with your doctor and take any necessary or recommended medication, and to minimize stress. Our bones and joints can become weaker especially with an activity which is why it is critical to maintain appropriate exercise, calcium and vitamin D supplementation and to avoid smoking. Our G.I. systems can become more susceptible to constipation especially with limited activity, limited fluid and water intake during the day, and as a result of certain medications. Additional changes can also affect our skin, gums and teeth, memory and thinking abilities, and eye/ears just to name a few.”
Habits Dr. Yashar suggests to avoid include being,”stagnation and monotony. Stay active both physically and socially. Stay on top of your health and see your doctor at least on an annual basis. Get regular checkups, colonoscopy and mammograms as per your family physician. Eat healthful foods and enjoy everything in moderation. Read, exercise, and keep your mind active by trying to learn new tasks, hobbies and skills.”
We all know to stay away from certain foods like anything processed, but it’s that much more important to do so after 50 according to cardiologist Dr. Sam Kalioundji MC FACC/Kalheart. “As patient’s age into their 50s, diet and lifestyle become more and more critical in maintaining health. Emphasizing moderation! Elimination of processed foods (basically anything packaged or processed – middle aisles of your normal grocery store). Stay on the perimeter. Fresh fruits and vegetables, chicken and fish, legumes. Substitute and reduce bread, pasta, rice with vegetables and legumes. Lentils are a well kept secret super food rich in fiber and protein that are cheap and easy to prepare. High fiber foods – oatmeals, apples, oranges, legumes. Cut portions down to half and avoid late night heavy meals. Alcohol is a great source of empty nutrition deficient calories and a quick way to put on weight – limit yourself to 1-2 per day max. Avoid snacking between meals and if you need a quick snack, reach for fresh fruits and vegetables – a handful of trail mix is high in calories and sugars and the equivalent of 2 to 3 pieces of fruit. If you are still having a hard time understanding why you are not losing weight, keep an honest daily diary of intake – it really will shock you.”
While it can be tempting to make the most of your workout and push yourself, Dr. Brian Solberg, MD, a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon and the founder of LA Orthopaedic Specialists in Downtown Los Angeles, warns against that.
“With the global pandemic improving, many people are starting to commence exercising and outdoor recreational such as team sports once again. But if you haven’t been regularly exercising and you’re 50 or older, you need to give some special consideration before hitting
the gym again. My practice involves the care and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries in adults and as folks get rid themselves of the ‘pandemic fluff’ I have seen a substantial uptick in exercise related injuries, especially in the 50+ year-old population. The most common types of injuries are strain injuries in which the muscle or tendon is inflamed by rapid resumption of strenuous activity such as running, plyometrics or heavy lifting. Many of my patients attempt to resume their previous level of activity after many months of relative inactivity. The muscles and tendons become deconditioned and the excessive strain brought on by a sudden increase in activity causes painful irritation of the tendons. Most of the time this type of condition is treated with rest, anti-inflammatory medication or sometimes injectable medication such as a corticosteroid.
Older patients (over 50) are more susceptible to more serious injuries such as tendon tears. The most commonly injured areas involve the shoulder and knee. These types of injuries occur more frequently in older individuals because as the body ages the tissue loses its elasticity and ability to withstand trauma without causing failure (tearing of the tissue). In the shoulder the rotator cuff tendons become prone to tearing and in the knee the meniscus (a ring of shock absorbing cartilage) becomes stiff and tears easily. Many of these injuries require surgery to repair or remove the damaged tissue. Frequent activities that result in these types of injuries include running or sprinting, plyometric workouts, heavy lifting and repetitive overhead activities. These should be approached with caution in the 50+ age group especially after a period of relative inactivity to avoid injury which may require surgery.
My best advice to avoid serious injury is to gradually resume activity. Be cautious when engaging a personal trainer, their job is to push you to your limit but in many cases if done too quickly this will lead to injury. Craft your workout plan that allows you to condition but not over-strain areas prone to injury such as knee and shoulder. When lifting weights focus on proper form, lower the amount you’re lifting and get more reps in. Plyometrics (jumping activity) should be avoided until you have done some strengthening and conditioning. Lunges should be avoided if you have pre-existing knee pain or issues. Always stretch prior to working out. When beginning running, consider alternating running and walking in equal amounts for the first few weeks to allow the body to adapt to the stress of exercise. With some basic common sense and a structured workout plan you can achieve your goals and avoid serious injury.”
A good skincare routine is essential and it’s so important to use the right products, Victoria Stiles, makeup artist and creative director of ShikSona Beauty says, “People over 50 should avoid any alcohol-based skincare products such as lotions and moisturizers as these tend to dehydrate the skin. Many moisturizers are alcohol-based so the product absorbs quicker on the skin, requiring less time to apply. As skin matures, it needs all the moisture it can get so choosing products that are water-based is key to healthy, hydrated skin.”
Good news! You don’t need to splurge on the latest overpriced beauty products anymore. Olive Kim, Chief Executive Officer of The Crème Shop says, “Many high-end and affordable skincare products generally contain the same base ingredients. Affordable skincare products are easily accessible and equally effective.”
Kim added, “With maturing skin, we recommend using an efficient foam cleanser to effectively deep cleanse. Leftover makeup and impurities can cause creasing, fine lines, and wrinkles. Hydration is key! Topically applied moisturizers may lose efficacy after a certain period of time. Korean Essence Sheet Masks are our prized secret to lock in hydration for as long as possible and helps reveal dewy, healthy skin.”
Hannah Kim, Founder of Botanical Republic agrees that proper cleansing is everything. She explains, “Taking care of your skin in your 50s is all about keeping the skin looking younger. It is essential to remove dirt, excess oil, makeup, and pollution from our skin that may clog our pores. If you do not cleanse your skin correctly, dirt and pollution can quickly accumulate on your skin and may cause dehydration and aging.”
She says, “As we age, we like to try products that delay the aging process. Nowadays, you can easily find a cleanser that quickly catches our eyes with alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), beta hydroxy acids (BHA), Vitamin C, or glycolic acid. These products tend to strip and dry out your skin. You can delay aging by using a gentle cleanser and keeping your skin hydrated at all times. Look for a cleanser that makes your skin feel soft and, of course, clean. I suggest an oil cleanser or milk cleanser that cleanses your skin without stripping it. Also, try to avoid scrubbing your skin as this can dry out your skin as well. You can follow by [using] a toner to help balance out the pH level of your skin, then apply either a moisturizer or face oil to keep your skin hydrated.” And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.