Loving your body well into your fifties is more important than you think.
Those simplified lists of things young girls in their teens and twenties "need to know" are pretty popular lately, but it's a bit more difficult to find any such road map for women in their fifties! This one isn't completely comprehensive, but it’s certainly a great place to start!
1. You need to be more careful when it comes to your monthly breast self-exams.
As we age, the breasts become less firm and more fibrous. They unfortunately tend to sag, too. This change makes finding lumps in the breasts a lot more difficult. Combine this knowledge with breastcancer.org’s statistic that roughly 1 out of every 8 women in America will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetimes, and the importance of both carefully conducted self-exams and regularly scheduled mammograms becomes clear.
2. There is a reason your bathroom breaks are becoming more urgent.
The decrease in your body's estrogen levels that naturally occurs with menopause may contribute to a shortening urethra!
3. Vaccines tend to be less protective as you grow older.
This is because the cells of your immune system are beginning to act more slowly. Just another reason to take good care of your health and immune system. It's time to learn to embrace vitamin C and getting enough sleep!
4. Your digestive system is going to change.
This isn't something that gets as much coverage, so to say, as menopause or osteoporosis. However, it's not uncommon for someone who used to love milk, cheese, and ice cream when they were a young spring chicken to become lactose intolerant once they reach a certain age. This is because the digestive tract slows down in its lactase production (the enzyme the body needs for digesting milk).
5. You need to be careful about your diet.
And not just when it comes to counting calories. As we age our metabolism slows, and a bit of weight gain occurs. While you might feel tempted to go on a drastic diet in order to avoid this, you really need to make sure you’re still getting enough protein! According to a 2011 article published in "Nutrition and Metabolism," the loss of muscle associated with aging can be slowed down or (in some cases) prevented altogether consuming 20 to 30 grams of protein at every meal and participating in strength-training exercises on a regular basis.
6. It IS possible to get back in shape in your 50s.
You're never too old to make a lifestyle change and start making healthier choices. Due to age related issues, like less efficient muscles and a slower metabolism, it's normal for your body to take longer to adapt to regular exercise, and build muscle. However, over time it is entirely possible to see results. If you're really committed, you may even find that you're fitter than you've ever been before!
7. It will probably hold up longer than your man's!
Seven out of 10 "Baby Boomer" women—those born between 1946 and 1964—are expected to outlive their husbands.
8. You've got to be a little more careful with what you put on it.
Yes, we're talking about mom jeans! Getting older doesn't mean you can't celebrate your figure or your sexuality! It just means that your body is changing and it might be time for your wardrobe to evolve with it.
9. Just because you can't feel bone loss that doesn't mean it's not happening.
It is estimated that approximately 20 percent of women in their fifties already have osteoporosis, and that 52 percent of women already have, to some extent, low bone mass. This is why it is so very important to make sure that you're getting plenty of calcium, and engaging in weight-bearing exercises, like dancing or walking, and strength-training (lifting weights) on a regular basis to help keep your bones strong. Even gardening can help some; just stay active.
10. It deserves respect!
Your body is remarkable; it is something to be proud of, especially when it's carried you through half a century! Even as it goes through the normal process of aging, it is still absolutely beautiful and you should under no circumstances be ashamed of it! In fact, you probably should be showing it off more. Now, more than ever before, is the time to spice up your sex life and just enjoy the skin you're in! (After all, if you have children they're likely to be out from under your feet and menopause did bring you one wonderful present—freedom from having to worry about getting pregnant.)