If you're over the age of 50, you now have decades-worth of experience in health trends that have come and gone. Thankfully, with age comes the wisdom to know that not all trends are created equal, and very few actually merit a jump on the bandwagon. Yet experts say there are a handful of health trends that have stood the test of time—while also being especially beneficial to adults over 50. Read on to learn the six health tips that could help transform your health as you age, according to doctors.
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No matter your age, getting enough high quality sleep is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. However, a recent study found that adults over the age of 50 who got inadequate amounts of sleep were 30 percent more likely to suffer from multiple chronic diseases. That's why, if you're over 50, you should plan to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, using whatever tools are at your disposal. This could mean investing in a white noise machine, upgrading your mattress, cutting caffeine earlier in the day, or tracking your sleep with an app.
"How you start your day depends on how you spent your night," Harmony Reynolds, MD, a cardiologist and the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women volunteer medical expert. tells Best Life. Jennifer Berman, MD, a urologist and expert in anti-aging treatments, adds that "adequate sleep can help to reduce stress, improve mood, and boost the immune system, which can help to prevent chronic diseases and promote healthy aging."
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Going "plant-based" doesn't mean you have to become a strict vegetarian. It simply means minimizing animal products like meat and dairy while featuring lots of plant-based foods on your plate—think fruits, veggies, grains, and legumes.
"This type of diet can help to prevent chronic diseases and promote a healthy aging process, " explains Berman. "It can also improve cognitive function, skin health, and reduce the risk of certain types of cancer." She notes that plant-based diets are ideal because they are very often "rich in anti-inflammatory foods such as leafy greens, berries, nuts, and fatty fish."
If you're looking for a minor health change that packs a major punch, Reynolds suggests working short bursts of physical activity into your day. "When you're worried that you aren't doing enough for your health, or just stressed about anything, get out of your chair and walk, dance, do jumping jacks or throw a few punches at the air to get your heart moving. Instead of telling yourself you aren't exercising enough, get up and get started. Then you can tell yourself you did it," she tells Best Life.
Berman adds that strength training exercises can be especially beneficial to adults over 50. "These exercises help to maintain and build muscle mass, increase bone density, and improve balance and stability. This can help to reduce the risk of falls and other age-related injuries, leading to an active and independent lifestyle."
Because your mental health is as important as your physical health, another trend to try is one incorporating mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation into your daily routine. "These practices can help with stress management, reducing the risk of chronic disease, and promoting overall well-being," explains Berman. "They can also improve sleep quality and reduce pain levels, allowing for a more active and fulfilling lifestyle," she tells Best Life.
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In recent years, many people have begun taking a closer look at their drinking habits and determined that scaling back on alcohol—or even quitting entirely—would be of benefit. Experts say that lowering your intake could help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, improve your mood, slash your risk of certain cancer types, decrease your weight, and more.
Similarly, quitting smoking can also have a profound effect on your health. "Use of inhaled nicotine delivery products, which includes traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes and vaping, is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., including about a third of all deaths from heart disease," notes Reynolds.
It's rare that doctors and A-list celebrities have the same message to share, but in the case of sunscreen, health and beauty dovetail into the ultimate health trend.
"Wearing sunscreen daily on your face, even in the winter, is essential for individuals over 50 as it reduces the risk of skin cancer and slows the aging process," Alex Trevatt, MD, a physician and the CEO of Medistudents, an online education platform for medical students, tells Best Life. "UV rays from the sun can penetrate through clouds and reflect off of snow, meaning that your skin is still exposed to harmful rays, even on cloudy or winter days. By applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every day, you can protect your skin from harmful UV rays, reduce the risk of skin cancer, and prevent premature aging."