Staying healthy in midlife should be a priority for us all. The longer we are fortunate enough to be walking this beautiful earth the more important it becomes to take care of our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Unfortunately many midlife women put their own health on the backburner as they take care of everyone around them – partners, children and ageing parents. I have seen many friends and family, both women and men, become ill and have their active adult life ripped away from them early. It is so very sad and often preventable.
There are things that we should all be doing to take control of our own health. Some are easy, others a little harder – but all are worthwhile. It is impossible to put a price on good health as we get older.
My top ten tips for staying healthy in midlife:
1. Know your numbers. Have a yearly check up with your GP and make a point of understanding the results. Make sure you find out your cholesterol, vitamins d and b12, insulin, iron, magnesium, red and white blood cells, thyroid and blood pressure. Going every year means you will understand what is normal for you and be able to spot and act on any changes early.
2. Eat a healthy diet high in fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes and healthy fats. Eat less animal products, salty and processed foods. Those who know me well know I am a big advocate for the healthfulness of a vegetarian wholefood diet.
3. Keep your digestive system healthy and bowels regular by eating plenty of fibre rich foods and drinking lots of water every day. Fibre can be found in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds – in fact it is in most of the foods you should eat every day as part of a healthy diet. Drink water regularly throughout the day. Your urine will be a pale yellow colour if you are properly hydrated.
4. Move every day, in some way. Activity doesn’t have to be at the gym to be worthwhile. A 20 to 30 minute brisk walk every day is a great way to stay active. Even doing the housework or gardening can get you huffing and puffing a little. Ideally you should also add some resistance training into each week to help keep your bones strong and healthy as you age.
5. Take care of your eyes with yearly optometrist check-ups to look for any early signs of degenerative disease such as macular degeneration. Wear reading glasses if you need them and sunglasses when you are outside to protect your eyes from the damaging effects of UV.
6. Take control of your vices. Butt out cigarettes permanently, keep alcohol consumption within moderate levels or not at all (your waistline and sleep will thank you), cut out sugary drinks completely and only eat junk foods occasionally rather than every day.
7. Keep your brain active by spending regular time doing things that you love. Just a few ideas to consider: making art, writing, tackling crosswords or number puzzles, reading books, playing an instrument, listening to music, crafting, spending time in nature.
8. Be social and stay connected. Spend time with friends and family as often as possible, talk about anything and everything and remember to laugh often.
9. Smile and be happy. The power of optimism is clearly associated with lower rates of stress and depression. Even if you are usually a glass half empty type of person you can train your brain to look on the bright side and have a more positive approach to life. Try it, it really works.
10. And finally, seek help when you need it. Don’t be brave and try to tough it out if you’re feeling unwell physically, mentally or emotionally. It’s really important to know when it’s time to get help and seek support from those around you.
We only get one chance, so live your best life this time!