Turning 50 is a huge milestone birthday. These days it seems like a lot of my friends are turning 50, or getting close. I’m not far off from 50 myself, and this year I have started recognizing this means physical changes.
Nothing surprised me so much as when my metabolism changed dramatically at 40. So, since I’m interested in what’s going to start happening to me and what I should do, I figure a lot of other soon-to-be-50 ladies will be interested, as well.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting the Big 5-Oh
As women age, we experience changes in our bodies. These changes can lead to everything from a more difficult time staying in shape to an increased risk of heart disease. It’s important to know what we’re in for, so we can address the new challenges we’ll face in this chapter of our lives and keep ourselves as healthy as possible.
Women in our age range have either gone through menopause or are in the process of menopause. In either case, our bodies will continue to change over time to due to different hormone levels in our bodies that age brings. That’s because menopause, and the hormone changes that come with it affect almost every aspect of our bodies. Let’s take a look at some of the changes that come with turning 50.
Women over 50 are more prone to heart disease. In fact, our average lifetime risk goes up to right around 40%. In addition, if we have two or more risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or smoking, that risk rises to 50%.
Declining Estrogen Levels
In addition to the hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and other fun stuff that menopause brings due to declining estrogen levels, we also become more susceptible to osteoporosis as well as the heart disease I just mentioned. We are also at a great risk of cancers.
When we think of age-related cancers, we often think of breast cancer. However, colorectal cancer is the one that sees the biggest jump in risk after age 50. In fact, over 90% of colorectal cancer cases occur after age 50.
Immune Function Decline
As we age, our thymus gland shrinks. This gland is responsible for our immune function because it regulates T-cells, our bodies’ immune system warriors. So the older we get, the more susceptible we are to colds, flu, and the like.
As we age, we see a decline in our episodic memory. This memory is the recall of events, times, and places. Basically, we have more episodes of brain dump. But there are ways to protect your memory, so read on.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting to be Your Best Self
Now that you know you’re staring down the barrel of some unpleasant things, let’s look at how we can help ensure that we are our best, healthiest selves at any age.
Plenty of Sleep
In age-related sleep studies, people who get 7 to 9 hours of sleep have been shown to live the longest. In addition, adequate, restful sleep can boost your memory, mode, and human growth hormone levels. HGH plays a key role in bone and muscle mass, so get those ZZZs.
A Healthy Diet
A health diet that includes dark leafy greens, veggies, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins can drastically improve your health, mood, and well-being. When you eat well, you feel well. Your body functions better, and that leads to being better across the board.
Don’t Neglect Sexual Health
While menopause and changing hormones can lead to a decreased libido and vaginal dryness, it doesn’t have to mean the end of your sex life. You can restore your sex life without the risks of hormone therapy by using topical estrogen preparations to help keep sex doable and enjoyable. Don’t give up! As the old saying goes: use it or lose it.
Regular exercise can keep you energized, healthy, and keep your immune system humming. And don’t neglect weight training. Resistance training drastically improves bone density.
Speaking of exercise, don’t forget to work out your mind. As we age, our brains lose some of their ability to function. It’s a natural part of aging, but it can be slowed. Don’t freak out. You won’t suddenly become incapable of regular activities. Rather, you’ll find that you search for names a bit more often or you forget that your glasses are on your head from time to time. Brain exercises can help keep your mind sharper for longer.
Mammogram and Colonoscopy
As we age, breast cancer and colorectal cancer become things we have to seriously consider. It’s important that we don’t forget to get regular preventative checkups, mammograms, and colonoscopies to ensure that we detect any issues as soon as possible.
Turning 50? Time to Celebrate
Although this post has been full of health issues and concerns for women who are approaching or have hit 50, it’s not all doom and gloom. So when you think of what to expect when you’re expecting to turn 50, expect to have an amazing life. All you need to do is know what to look for, take care of yourself, and embrace the next chapter of your life.