The most important guidelines for a healthy lifestyle after age 50 are the same for men and women at any age. Following these guidelines can help men age in good health and reduce the risk of many diseases that are more common in older men like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
=> See also “The 7 Most Common Health Problems of Men over 50”
1. Eat a healthy diet
What is a healthy diet for men over age 50 and why is it important?
A healthy diet can help men over age 50 reduce their risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some types of cancer.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products are healthy choices. Lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts are good sources of protein, too. For heart health and weight management, it’s important to eat foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars.
2. Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep
Research shows that consistently getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night is beneficial. Any more or less can increase your risk for serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and even death. Getting enough quality sleep is also key to a healthy lifestyle.
3. Be physically active
How much and what type of activity is good for men after age 50?
Physical activity is the best way for men over age 50 to improve their heart health, muscle strength, flexibility, and balance. Physical activity helps reduce the risk of some diseases, including dementia.
Aerobic or cardio exercise gets the heart pumping and uses large muscle groups. Walking, biking, and swimming are all aerobic exercises. Strength training involves using weights to build up muscle. Working out with dumbbells or on weight machines are examples of strength training.
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Experts recommend both types of exercise. Men who have not been active should consult their doctor before starting an exercise program and select activities they enjoy to increase their chance for success.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise (brisk walking) a week and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week.
4. Don’t smoke
Does quitting smoking after age 50 make a difference in a man’s health?
It is never too late to quit smoking. As soon as a smoker quits, the body begins to heal the damage caused by smoking.
Smokers who quit quickly notice they can breathe easier, have more energy, lose the “smoker’s cough” and have a better sense of taste and smell.
5. Get routine exams and screenings
What health screenings are important for men over age 50?
Screenings are tests that look for diseases in their early stages, before symptoms develop. Which screenings a man should have and how often depend in part on his family health history, personal health history, and lifestyle habits.
The following list includes some of the most important screenings for men over age 50 but does not include all possible screenings. Men over age 50 should consult a physician about what screenings to have and how often.
Blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other diseases. A blood pressure check is an easy, painless, noninvasive screening that can be done in the doctor’s office. According to the American Heart Association, blood pressure should be checked at least once every two years, beginning at age 20.
Cholesterol. High cholesterol increases the risk for heart disease, and stroke. A blood test is used to measure cholesterol level. The American Heart Association wants everyone over age 20 who does not have heart disease to have a cholesterol test every four to six years. People with known heart disease or certain other conditions may need to have their cholesterol level checked more often.
Prostate cancer. A simple blood test called the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test can find early prostate cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggests that all men over age 50 talk to their doctor about having a PSA test and understand the risks and benefits of the test.
Colon cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that all men should be screened for colon cancer starting at age 50 until age 75. Those who are over age 75 should talk to their doctor about whether they need to continue being screened.
Even men who have not followed these guidelines until now can benefit from making healthy changes. It’s never too late to start making good choices.