Life After 50. 10 Things to Do Better To Get More Out

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Written by Penny Cooper

No one is really fully prepared to face the challenges that come with aging. As I got older, the idea of life after 50 didn’t exactly fill me with glee, but pondering life’s inevitability, fortunately, doesn’t fill our every waking day.

Well, unless you’re an existential poet, I suppose.

I’ve ended the article with another 11 ideas which are short and to the point. Of those, number 10 is my favorite.

I believed that the transition from my 40s into my 50s would be quite seamless and, of course, it was.

I mean, after my 49th birthday, I didn’t suddenly need help up the stairs. The next morning I went for an 8 mile run.

But there is an exponential growth of subtle negative changes that occur, which is in contrast to our fundamental abilities. There are more irritating complaints, but it takes longer for the body (or brain) to mend.

The idea of not being as active as I once was in body and as agile of mind (as I’ve never been) might be something to dread, but perhaps not.

Later, I will try to convey my positive spin (“spin” in a good way) on this.

I am not a student of medicine or anything related. So this diatribe is simply my own thoughts and experiences on Life After 50 – ta-da.

Could I help others with wellness and health concerns when I might have problems with myself, now and in the future?

Any new chapter in our lives could be a bit scary. I’ve come to realize that life in our 50s and beyond is what we make of it by adapting to change. And if on reaching 50 change is what you crave.

Life after 50 can be a time of fun but still a time for achievement. 

There can be a balance between the exuberance of youth and the sagacity that comes with experience, even if we are no longer physically twenty-something.

Oh, a word on that “age is just a number” thing. Yeah, age is just a number, but for some people, it’s a bloody big one.

I have proven to myself that life after 50 can be fun and exciting, but purposefully just by being open to new experiences and habits.

Life starts at 50…or it can and it might have to if everything has previously failed and gone down the pan.

Tips on How to Live Life to the Fullest

So, you want to get more out of life whilst traveling through the autumnal years. So where to start and what to do? 

There are a number of answers to this question, but it can still be difficult. Here are some of my thoughts to help you live life after 50 in a fun and positive way.

Some may be “yadda yadda”, heard it all before ideas, but there is some gold in them thar hills and furthermore, it doesn’t make those more cliched solutions to be less important.

Our last section reveals some of my favorite thoughts on living life after 50.

Exercise Makes You Happier Than Riches

We should all know by now that exercise is good and sedentary is bad. And being physically active is more important as we age.

Let’s make sure we understand what exercise is. From the Britannica dictionary, we have “physical activity that is done in order to become stronger and healthier“. 

Many studies over the years have shown that exercise releases feel-good hormones called endorphins. Receptors in the brain, guide these chemicals to reduce pain and increase mood positivity.

kettlebell exercising with life after 50

The side effect of this is a feeling of euphoria. It’s a free drug similar to morphine, but without the addictive qualities.

Now, most people rarely think to themselves, “I am sad, I’ll just jog for 5 miles” or, “I’ll do a few pushups to get rid of my sadness.”

Nevertheless, these chemicals course through our bodies and turn exercise into pure joy.

In my 30s and 40s, I was very aware of the feel-good factor when training through running.

But life after 50 and beyond 50, that powerful rush of happiness became less pronounced. Now, although not a complete memory, it’s definitely not the same.

I haven’t seen studies regarding the tailing off of endorphin production in later life, but my theory is just that. Or maybe it’s just the fact that I no longer run 50 miles every week.

No matter. Regular exercise gives me an overall feeling of well-being and after most sessions, I feel Great.

Unsure what exercise to do. Try something completely different like tai chi, yoga, line dancing, skiing, or kayaking. What you end up liking may surprise you.

Got to our article on cardio after 50 for more and for strength training after 50, here.

You Are What You Eat – Quality In, Quality Out

Do you ever watch a cooking show and wonder why they are making such a big deal out of something as simple as mac and cheese? 

It is because the act of eating is an experience of the senses. Eating is a fusion of sight, taste, smell, and sound into one simple event like lunch.

We eat for nourishment and for pleasure. We may think that chowing down on unhealthy foods like chocolate and chips gives us the most pleasure.

But, in fact, it’s the low-calorific food like fruit and vegetables that not only taste better and make us happy but also eases the negative mood. This is according to a recent study.

There have been so many studies on diet and food choices for healthy living. It is difficult to navigate what to eat and what not to eat. Life after 50 should be easier than that.

Protein foods, nuts, salmon, cheese, egg on board with white background

My own take is not to follow any restrictive eating plan but to buy and consume as much as is possible the least processed foods.

Then I embrace and enjoy preparing, cooking and eating. And if that means baking a huge tray of chocolate (are there any other types) brownies, so be it. I feel no guilt.

I’ve made my own dessert. I know what’s gone in, which adds to my understanding of what’s going into my body.

And, for full disclosure, I’ve enjoyed at least one glass of red whilst in the process.

I don’t wish to be flippant about what is an important part of our health. But we are wiser and know what we should be eating.

Healthy eating is a part of good health that leads to less pain and suffering and fewer prescriptions. It essentially leads to a better quality of life. And saves us money.

Sleep Better

A common sight to see ol’ granddad slouched on the couch fast asleep after the Sunday roast.

And a common misconception is that older people need more sleep within a 24-hour period. After our formative years, our needs for sleep remain constant.

The key to sleep is to get enough quality sleep so that you feel refreshed as you listen to the birds chirping and watch the sun come up.

The recommended amount for adults remains 7-9 hours every night.

There are ways to help yourself get more fulfilling sleep. For example, getting to bed at the same time every day will make falling asleep easier and faster.

Also, avoid stimulants like caffeine and alcohol before going to bed.

Keeping a dark, quiet and uncluttered bedroom. This will help set your body clock (circadian rhythm) and core temperature to a consistent schedule.

Don’t expose yourself to blue-light devices before sleep and maintain a dark environment.

portrait cute newborn baby sleeping on brown blanket

By incorporating these healthy habits, your energy will improve.

Aside from what you can do at night to boost your sleep quality, did you also know that what you do during the day can also set you up for some quality Zs?

Working out regularly and exposure to sunlight can condition your body to stay awake when the sun is out and to wind down after sunset. 

I’ve spent a lot of time researching sleep, what it is and why we need it because I have had insomnia for years.

There are many interesting details that emerge about sleeping, even recently.

One of the most striking for me was that sleep is the time when the brain flushes all the toxic material that has built up during the day.

More on how to improve brain fitness.

If you don’t get your regular healthy sleep, these toxins (amyloids) can build up. Amyloids are associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Famously, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher “enjoyed” 2 to 4 hours of sleep at irregular times. How did they end up?

Sleep is a fascinating subject and I could go on but that’s it for now. I might come back to it. In the meantime, “Why We Sleep” is a book packed full of interesting facts and studies.

Make Better Choices Every Day–Little and Big

Decision neuroscience is a new field in the world of science that looks at how people make decisions. 

Fortunately, even though cognitive function declines as we age, making better choices is easier as we get older. No excuse then.

Studies in this field have shown that older adults are better at decision-making in certain circumstances than our younger selves.

In nuanced ways, relying on experiences, older people differentiate better between a good choice and a poor one. 

Whatever questionable forks in the road we chose in the past, intelligent decisions will mitigate them after 50.

Take poor relations. Please.

Stress and toxic relationships can eat away at us at any age. Stress contributes to other health issues. Have a stress management plan and, when possible, eliminate negative relationships. 

Keep up with regular health checkups with your primary care doc and, yes, even your dentist. Be your own parent and remind yourself that sunscreen is still a must and that eating your vegetables will help your body get the fiber it needs. 

Be bold and wise in all decisions.

Stand More–Standing Office Desk?

Posture is important. Good posture is something that has become adulterated over the course of time. Standing more is beneficial to posture and for your physical health. 

When you get older, your body’s muscles tighten, making it more difficult to move fluidly. Not only that, but gravity becomes your enemy, causing you to cave in or stumble. 

Fortunately, there are ways you can avoid not letting gravity and sticky muscles get the best of you.

The main solution is the sit-to-stand exercise where you can strengthen your leg, core, and back muscles. 

This will help with increasing mobility and also help to improve balance as well. Another option can be that you can buy a standard standing office desk for support.

Implementing these exercises can not only boost your health but can prevent muscular issues and osteoporosis, which are common in aging. 

Have Better Relationships? Time With Family?

Approaching middle age and beyond means, you have already accumulated friends and have entered into one or many more intimate relationships.

Personally, I have kept the number of spouses and offspring to a minimum. I went for quality. 🙂

One of the more important things to consider concerns existing and new relationships and spending time with friends and loved ones. 

Establishing new relationships is harder as you get older, so don’t be mean with your time and your existing friends and family.

It might not always be the case you have grandkids climbing all over the ceiling. In the future, it could be a case of loneliness and isolation.

Life after 50 means spending time with grandkids

Make some time to spend with family whether it be a simple family outing or even planning out holiday gatherings.

Take this time to be more social, strengthen existing relationships and start some new ones as well. 

Establishing and strengthening relationships brings positive energy into your life. That’s if they are the right kinda people.

If there are friends in your life who do not have a kind thing to say or are toxic, it would be best to cut these people out of your life. 

Surround yourself with loving people. It’s beneficial for your emotional and mental health. Have social media friends but make it a balance with the real people. 

Have an Optimistic Outlook–See the Bright Side of Life 

Would you consider yourself to be an optimistic person? If not, maybe learning about the positive effects of optimism might change your mind.

Optimistic people can smile through difficult times and easily shrug off negative situations. 

Studies show that optimistic people achieve more goals because of their persistence, have better relationships, have better physical and mental health, and handle stressful situations better.

Seek New Challenges 

One aspect of life after 50 is to seek new experiences and move out of your comfort zone. If something seems outrageous but exciting for you to do, then go for it! 

What matters is to live in the here and now, especially as you may have more time on your hands. There are new ways you can challenge yourself.

This might include moving to a new place, leaving a long-term relationship, or just seeking out activities you couldn’t have done before due to other commitments. 

The most common way of organizing all the new and challenging activities to do is to construct a bucket list.

However, it doesn’t have to be things to do before you die, but things you have been meaning to try out for a long time. 

Bucket list! It’s a bit of a cliche. I have one and call it my Long Term “Things To Do” List. And it works for me.

There is no rule that you have to do an extremely intense activity or do something that is completely mad. 

Get a new haircut, take photographs or do anything you don’t have any experience in but enjoy.

Laugh–Keep a Sense of Humor 

Just because you are living life after 50 does not mean your entire existence will be devoid of happiness and laughter. 

Learn to embrace your inner child. Make time for fun with family and friends. You could also take an improv or comedy class if you have an urge to make others laugh. 

You might also want to take a hobby that you enjoy immensely and that can also be fun to do as well. Sometimes you might make a mistake, and rather than putting yourself down, laugh. Take it easy on yourself. 

“Laughter is the best medicine” or an even better one from the poet Byron. “Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.”

Laughing can be a wonderful method in order to relax as it reduces stress and boosts your immunity and revitalizes you

You could also breathe easier when you laugh, easing your nerves and the tension melts.

Save the memories of laughter.

Invest in Yourself 

When you think of investing, you might think of factors that deal with taking care of your finances and services. Though, the most important thing for you to invest in is yourself

This can be taking care of your physical and emotional health. This can be practicing mindful exercises, seeking therapy, and exercising as much as you can. 

Also, be financially responsible. This means saving when you can, not frequently spending your money on frivolous things, and investing your money on things you need that are important.

11 More Things That Will Benefit Living After 50

For living your best life after 50, here are 11 goals, actions, ideas that should have a positive effect on that goal.

  1. Give regularly to your favorite charity. I started this 15 years ago and never looked back. It’s money that you don’t notice and you feel good that you’re doing something worthwhile for a cause you care about.
  2. Learn to meditate and practice. A perfect pastime for peaceful introspection.
  3. It’s never too late to start a diary. Exercises your writing and memory. And gives you and the family pleasure in reflection.
  4. Look after your biggest organ. Whether male or female, your skin needs all the love it can get. You’ll love the way it feels and looks.
  5. Learn to cook. As I’ve shown before, I love cooking and baking. Since school, it has always amazed me. The magic of culinary creations from raw ingredients. Cooking helps you appreciate what you are feeding yourself and your family.
  6. Get a massage regularly. Get those aches and pains smoothed out.
  7. Read more. Try a genre you’re not used to. There may be a surprise.
  8. Learn more about the natural world. It’s great to be outside amongst nature and it’s nice, too, to have a good understanding. From bees and birds to protons and electrons.
  9. Learn to make things. Whether it’s arts and crafty or making pots or wooden toys.
  10. Make good habits with rewards. Give yourself a treat after finishing a task. For instance, I make myself a stonking breakfast after my morning exercise.
  11. Find out about things you don’t know. There are levels of knowledge we can’t even imagine, let alone understand. But it’s nice to be aware of the deep questions even if we haven’t got all the answers. “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”― Albert Einstein.

Overall Thoughts on Life After 50

At 50 or over, you might have a good idea of how to go about living.

In the United States, 100 years ago, life expectancy was in the early 50s. That’s what we now call middle age. Now it’s around 80. That’s a gift, an extra quarter of a century to live life to the fullest. To care for yourself and humanity.

You might also enjoy these articles
Getting fit after 50
Exercises for women over 50
Workouts for men over 50
Regaining muscle tone after 50
Losing weight after 50
Living a longer happier life

Photo of author
Penny is a Personal Trainer currently training as a wellness coach. She gained a BA in English at Edinburgh University. Redundancy from retail management hastened a move to helping people get fit and writing about all things fitness in middle age.

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