Getting older doesn’t mean feeling older. In fact, you can feel healthier in your 50s than you did in your 20s.
“You don’t have to feel sluggish or gain weight.” said Dr. Joseph Upton, medical director of Pro Sport’s Club’s Anti Aging Center. “We can turn back the hands of time and be very fit and healthy.”
Dr. Upton has been practicing medicine for over 17 years. Through his experience with preventative medicine and extensive research into anti-aging medicine, he has helped patients overcome metabolic disorders and achieve healthy lifestyles.
Recent scientific studies have shed light on what causes aging. There are a myriad of factors including hormonal decline, the shortening of the caps on our chromosomes called telomeres, genetics, stress and chemicals.
The good news is these scientific discoveries also reveal what it takes to combat aging. According to Upton the fountain of youth is “accessible to everyone and as simple as adopting and healthy lifestyle.”
While this sounds like the same advice we hear any age, Upton says as we get older we have less of a margin for error when it comes to things like diet and exercise. Therefore, while adopting a healthy lifestyle is something we should do not matter if your 15 or 50, once we reach middle age it’s important to be more diligent about healthy habits.
With that in mind, Upton shares top five tips for feeling fitter in your 50s than you did in your 20s.
As we age, we don’t have to give up our favorite hobbies like hiking, kayaking or taking spin classes. In fact, a regular exercise routine is crucial to feeling healthy and vibrant in any decade. Exercise also increases blood flow to the body and brain, so a regular workout schedule will also help improve your memory.
As you age, incorporating strength training into your workouts becomes especially important, since strength training not only builds muscle it also prevents muscles loss. “People can build muscles well into their 90s,” said Upton.
He also recommends yoga and Pilates classes to increase core strength and improve flexibility.
To prevent injury, make sure your muscles have adequate recovery time between workouts. Upton recommends not working the same muscles group two days in a row and scheduling days off.
Eat a Colorful Diet
Who knew looking and feeling 10 years younger is as easy as filling your plates with brightly colored foods? Intensely pigmented fruits and vegetables like deep indigo blueberries and rich green kale are filled with antioxidants, and Upton says antioxidants are the best at stopping aging.
Antioxidant substances like Vitamin C, Vitamin E and beta-carotene fight oxidative stress. To illustrate this, Upton uses the example of an apple turning brown once you take a bite. Oxidative stress is linked to aging and disease, and to fight this process, eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables along with legumes like red and kidney beans.
Upton’s other motto: “Eat foods that are closer to the earth and avoid chemicals which can make you age faster.”
So along with plant foods, stick to lean meats like chicken and fish to build muscle and leave you feeling satiated. Upton is also quick to remind patients that our organs are composed of lipids, so make sure you get enough healthy fats like Omega 3s, fish oils and flaxseeds.
“Our bodies were made to deal with acute stress like running away from a predator. Once the predator is gone, the stress was over,” said Upton. “Now we have stress that lasts 24/7.”
Between emails inboxes, family obligations and technology bombarding us all day and night, stress can be a large contributor to the energy zap we feel as we age.
“Stress takes a lot out of our bodies,” said Upton.
Some of the adverse effects of stress include headaches, fatigue, depression, high bloods pressure, skin conditions, heart problems, irritability, sleep problems, lower sex drive and lack of focus. Reducing your stress levels can do wonders for your physical and mental health and help you feel younger.
While this is understandably easier said than done, Upton recommends yoga sessions or just finding a few moments everyday for you.
“It doesn’t have to be any expensive trip to the spa, it can be a walk in the park,” he said.
Get Quality and Quantity Sleep
“Sleep is the restorative time for the body,” said Upton, which is why getting both enough sleep and good quality sleep is important.
Seven to nine hours per night will not only keep your memory sharp (and help you remember where you left the keys), enough sleep will also prevent brain fog and improve your mood. A good night’s sleep has even been proven to help you look younger and happier.
To get more sleep, try going to bed and waking up at the same time every night and keeping your room as dark and as quiet as possible.
If you find you are getting your eight hours every night but still feeling sluggish, you might have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea. Sleep apnea stops your breathing periodically throughout the night, which causes you to wake briefly, resulting in an unrestful night’s sleep. Upton recommends talking about sleep disorders with your physician.
Pay Attention to Health Risk Factors
Speaking of talking to your physician, Upton also stresses taking preventative and proactive steps for your health.
“Pay close attention to risk factors like blood pressure and high cholesterol so you can minimize your risk of chronic diseases,” said Upton.
Make regular doctor’s appointments and get regular health screenings like mammograms, colonoscopies, dental exams, eye exams and osteoporosis screenings.
Along with these five tips, Upton also recommends talking to your doctor your hormone levels, which decline as we age.
“Testosterone can start declining in men in their mid 30s and perimenopause can start for women in their mid 30s,” he said.
Upton also says the hormones in your thyroid can vary with age and affect your metabolism, energy and weight. Imbalances in your hormones can leave you feeling “less than optimal,” so he recommends speaking with your doctor or seeing an endocrinologist about hormones levels.
Dr. Upton’s main message is that it’s possible to feel healthier in your 50s than you did in your 20s. In fact, through adopting a healthy lifestyle your 40s, 50 and beyond can be your best years complete with abundant energy, a healthy body and a sharp mind.
To learn more, visit the Pro Sport’s Club’s Anti-Aging Center website.