What to expect: Your health at 50

Tips for staying healthy in your 50s

Everyone ages differently, but in your 50s, you may start to notice changes in your body. The good news is, there are effective ways to slow the progress of many of those changes. Read on for info and tips for aging in your 50s.

The skin you’re in

You may notice subtle changes in your skin. The good news is that you won’t have to worry much about surprise breakouts and chronic acne. However, your skin is drying out, and there are changes in collagen and elastin, the substances that give your skin elasticity. Coupled with a gradual loss of bone, muscle and fat under the skin, fine lines and wrinkles may be more dramatic. You also may notice skin tags, age spots and dilated superficial blood vessels. There are treatments for all these issues, including creams, laser procedures and other dermatological tools.

Exercise and lifting weights

If you’ve been fairly active most of your life, you have a better chance of staving off the aches and pains of middle age.

“Strength training is your best bet for strong bones and muscles,” said Robin G. Curry, M.D., orthopedic and sports medicine specialist with Norton Orthopedic Institute.

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It may sound like a tree’s worth of snapping twigs when you move, but these sounds are not typically serious issues, unless accompanied by numbness, swelling or pain.

In general, all forms of exercise are beneficial in your 50s. Exercise maintains muscle and bone, strengthens the heart, reduces stress and helps maintain a healthy weight. If you haven’t started an exercise program, talk to your doctor about how to get started.

Metabolism and diet

“If we’re not careful, our weight can creep up,” Dr. Curry said. Staying active and watching your diet can keep you from gaining weight as you age. Metabolism slows about 5% per decade, but by drinking plenty of water, increasing fiber intake and decreasing sweets, you can avoid packing on the pounds. You also may notice stomach bloating and discomfort after eating dairy — in your 50s you tend to produce less of the enzyme that helps digest milk.

Medical screenings

A routine yearly physical includes testing related to cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and your joints, as well as updates to your medical history. This provides a baseline for your health going forward.

In addition to annual physicals with your doctor, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people over 45 get screened for colorectal cancer. Your doctor will help you determine how often you should be tested, based on the results of your initial screen, family history and current health status.

The bottom line

“You can protect what you have,” Dr. Curry said. “Diet and exercise are the best ways to keep living a healthy, pain-free life.”

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