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With wisdom and knowledge, women enter their fifties. They know what’s best for them and their families, but when push comes to shove, it’s often their families that take priority. Here are some things women can do to ensure their health for decades to come.

 

Challenge your mind.

As you age, modest declines in memory are normal. You might not remember why you entered the kitchen, for instance. This reflects inevitable changes in the brain. But you can keep your synapses strong by keeping your brain active. A few things to try (and keep trying):

  1. Take a class in something that interests you. How about ceramics?

  2. Use all of your senses. See a pretty flower? Smell it. Feel it.

  3. If you think you can, you will. Believing myths about declining cognition can actually lead to declines in cognition. Believe in yourself, and keep your mind sharp.

  4. Focus on the good stuff, not where you left your keys. By keeping your life organized with planners and habits, you will have more time to consider the more important things, like which beaches you’ll visit in retirement.

  5. Repetition can help you remember facts. Say out loud things that you want to remember down the road, like directions to a new walking trail.

 

Check the stress.

It’s a fact: The older you get, the more stress can harm you. Living with high stress can threaten more than your health, it can also damage your well-being, relationships, and productivity. That’s why researchers suggest slowing down and trying relaxation techniques. Below, a few methods for achieving zen:

  1. Nix stressful situations by making choices that will avoid them. For instance, leave for work on time.

  2. Eat a healthy diet. Certain foods like avocados, almonds, and oranges can actually reduce stress by delivering certain vitamins to the body.

  3. Sleep can reduce stress. Research shows that most people would be happier and healthier if they slept an extra 60 to 90 minutes every night.

  4. Make time for you and the things you love. This could mean more alone time in the woods, dinners with good friends, or whatever you’d like!

 

Keep exercising.

After 50, women begin to lose muscle mass, but that’s not the end of the story. With exercise, women can counteract the effects of aging, while lowering blood pressure and improving cholesterol levels. Just remember these important tips for successful exercise:

 

  1. See a physician before starting.

  2. Warm up for at least five minutes.

  3. Stretch after your warm up.

  4. Get your blood pumping for at least 30 minutes, five days a week, with fast walking, biking, or other cardiovascular activities.

  5. Lift weights twice a week.

Pro tip: One way to start and keep an exercise regimen is to join a class. The instructor and your peers will help keep you motivated.

 

Make check-ups a priority.

At this stage of your life, some screening tests are second-hand: PAP, blood pressure, and cholesterol among them. When you turn 50, however, other tests are needed, including screening for colorectal cancer. Here are some other check-ups you should seek as you age:

 

  1. A routine physical exam every two years, which includes readings of BMI, blood, urinalysis, and mental health.

  2. Dental cleaning and exam at least once a year, but twice a year is recommended.

  3. Check the blood pressure, especially if you have hypertension or other conditions like diabetes or heart disease.

  4. Get a skin exam to check your cancer risk.

  5. Colorectal cancer screening, beginning at age 50 for most average-risk people. African Americans should begin at age 45.

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