We all know that the best way to stay healthy is live wisely and make good choices every day that will enable us to remain fit and strong, inside and out, as we get older. It seems so simple, doesn’t it?
Yet we continue to struggle in the areas of our lives that can impact our health, longevity, and day-to-day enjoyment. Why is that?
I believe there are two factors that keep us from making the changes we know are best for us:
- We’re ‘old dogs’: well, not dogs in the literal sense, of course (woof), but like our senior fluffy friends, we’re not quick to change, to start something new, to venture into uncharted territory.
- It takes time, effort, motivation, and dedication to create a new habit: simply translated, it takes some work on our part!
So these healthy habits for women are a reminder to us all…me first…that every day is a fresh start, an opportunity for me to set my little feet going in a positive direction. Are they going to be a new revelation for us? Probably not, at least not all ten.
I benefit from continual reminders, encouragement, motivation, and a little kick in the rear to nudge me forward, and am guessing that you might benefit from the same. So although we may have read these words before, take a look at them with fresh eyes, pause after reading each healthy habit, and take a moment to look inward.
You might just come away with renewed energy and motivation to embrace a healthy lifestyle that has not been a priority for awhile.
- 10 Healthy Habits for Women
- Conclusion: Habits for Healthy Living
10 Healthy Habits for Women
1 | Start fresh each day
It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. Every day we get to start fresh. Yesterday is in the past, and unless we choose to live there, it is history. It is a Gift.
If we failed at something, if we neglected someone, if we acted in haste, if we didn’t follow up on a commitment, we’ve been given a new opportunity. It’s called Today.
We never stop learning, and as women in midlife we’re continuing to grow and mature. So those mistakes, those missteps, those missed opportunities of yesterday? We’ll learn from them, and we’ll move forward. That is a healthy habit that we can all embrace!
When it comes to the practical side of a new day and a fresh start, what you choose to do in those first couple of hours will set the tone for your day. So do good things for yourself, including a healthy morning routine. It’s one of the best and healthiest ways to start the day.
Pause and Think:
Consider how much thought and effort you’ve put into re-hashing the events of the past week, particularly those that did not go as planned, or were disappointing. Take that emotional time spent and redirect it to healthy thoughts and activities. Give yourself the gift of forgiveness and move on. It’s a new day!
2 | Eat good food
We’re probably not going to maintain a strict diet of only the healthiest foods at every meal, unless restricted for medical reasons. And the periodic piece of cake, bowl of ice cream, handful of potato chips, etc. is not going to propel us down the junk food, high-fat, high-carb rabbit hole.
Of course, our body responds really, really well when we eat healthy, and if we honor and respect that, we’ll want to consume clean, fresh food that is nourishing, refreshing, and gives us energy. Healthy snacks most of the time. Then, those treats we enjoy will become very special, and not just something else to eat that tastes good for a few minutes.
I’ve learned a lot about my own eating habits since starting to count macros, or macronutrients, recently. Those are the healthy proteins, fats, and carbs that we should consume each day to keep our bodies healthy. What an eye-opener for me to see what I really choose to eat and not what I think I’m eating, in terms of how healthy it is for me.
It’s almost like having a food journal or food diary, which is another way to gain perspective on our eating habits.
Our bodies process food differently as we get older, too, so in order to keep it functioning well it is essential that we feed it the nutrients it needs. Oh, and that teeny tiny issue we face with weight gain in midlife? Eating good, clean food will go a long way toward helping us stay on track with our overall health, feel less bloated, and maybe even drop a pound or two.
Learn more about eating healthy and how it impacts our health and well being.
Pause and Think:
Write down what you’ve had to eat for the last 2 or 3 days, and be honest about it. No one will see it but you. Is there anything on that list, or the overall type of food consumed, that should change? Be eliminated? Pick one food, or one meal, or one type of food, and work on making healthier choices.
3 | Exercise regularly
You know the drill, girlfriend. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to stay healthy. It can help reduce stress, improve your mood and give you more energy, help with the weight gain, as well as keep you strong and less prone to injury as you age.
Overall fitness is a healthy habit that should be at the top of all of our self-care lists, but for many, it’s not a priority.
Exercise doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, you don’t have to hire a personal trainer, but it can be tough to get going and make it a habit if you’re not accustomed to any type of regular exercise. And I won’t sugar-coat it: making exercise a priority is work, and it takes commitment.
As women over 50 we need to do two types of exercise – aerobic and strength training – with regularity.
Here are some helpful articles to get your started:
- How Many Steps Per Day is Active Enough for Women Over 50?
- Building Strength After 60: 5 Best Tips
- Mighty Health Review: Lifestyle App for Women Over 50
- The Benefits of Functional Fitness and Why We Need It
- Why Strength Training After 50 is Non-Negotiable
- Best Exercise Routines After 50
- Fitness After 60: How I Stay in Shape
- 10 Simple Brisk Walking Tips
Of course, if you experience ongoing health issues you’ll want to confer with your medical provider to make sure that exercise is safe for you to do.
Pause and Think:
If you’re in good overall health, are you setting aside time to exercise regularly? Aerobic exercise 3 to 4 times per week? Strength training 3 times per week? If not, commit to yourself to make time in your calendar for fitness. Your body will thank you for it!
4 | Don’t compare yourself to others
It’s so easy to look around and see what other, younger women have that we don’t. Sometimes it seems like every woman I see on TV is young, slim, and has a flat stomach. I have to (gently) slap myself every so often and remember that 1) everyone’s body is firmer in their youth, 2) mine was at that time in my life, 3) my body is aging just like everyone else’s, and 4) I look just the way I am supposed to in my 60s.
The comparison game can get really out of control, too, if we move past how we look and rate what we have, where we live, who we’re with…it can go on and on, and down the rabbit hole we go:
- why don’t I look younger, like you-fill-in-the-blank?
- why am I single in midlife?
- how come I didn’t end up with more financial security?
- why am I not traveling in retirement like ‘everyone else’?
It’s human nature to do that, and to some extent we’re taught to strive for more, be better, achieve great things, and all that stuff.
But when it comes down to it, friends, we’re just us. Flaws, struggles, and all. And that is pretty darn special. There is no one else in the entire world just like you, or like me.
It takes some effort on our part to keep our eyes focused forward, accepting and even embracing who we are, where we are, in life. But when we do, all of the effort that we put into comparing ourselves to other people can be redirected into healthier thoughts and activities. And that is a freeing realization.
Pause and Think:
Do you find yourself still comparing how you look, what you have, what you do (or can’t do) to other women? Other couples? Other families? When that happens, stop yourself, halt that thought, and remember that you are right where you’re supposed to be. And…you are uniquely YOU. Celebrate that.
5 | Use sunscreen every day
I know, it sounds so simple, and should be something we do automatically. But it needs to be on the list of healthy habits for women because we tend to forget about the details of caring for ourselves.
Women over 50 are at higher risk of developing skin cancer. It is important to use sunscreen every day, especially if you will be outside for an extended time or exposed to the sun without shade.
Sunscreen is available in many different types so it’s easy to find one that will work well for your needs. And, it’s important to wear sunscreen all seasons of the year. The sun can still do damage even when it’s cold outside.
This is a healthy habit that I need to focus on more. I am lazy when it comes to using sunscreen, except for my face and neck.
Pause and Think:
How handy is that sunscreen? Do you keep it readily available to use before heading out the door? If it’s hidden away in a closet or drawer, put it somewhere in sight so you’ll be more likely to use it. Check the expiration date as well as the SPF strength. Is it time for a fresh, new bottle?
6 | Always be grateful
When I get up in the morning, one of the first things I do is thank the Lord for another day. I’m grateful that I’m here, and for each day that has led me to where I am today.
It hasn’t always been easy, or simple, or happy, or secure, or settled, or exciting, or what I expected. Nope. It hasn’t.
But I am still grateful for where I am at this point in my life. And focusing on the gratitude helps keep me centered, and balanced, and not dwelling on the negatives.
Gratitude can also help us see how much we have, and keep life’s frustrations in perspective. So is gratitude a healthy habit? You bet.
Pause and Think:
Where is your gratitude thermometer? Does it need an adjustment?
7 | Walk more, move more
As we age and our bodies are not as willing to spring into action, it can become quite comfortable to spend more time sitting. Our lifestyle may be quite relaxed at this time in our lives, and so we embrace the ability to stay busy, or not.
Even though the option to sit and read for a few hours is wonderful, if we make that our main activity of the day, our body is going to age more quickly and become less willing to perform the more active tasks when we need it to.
And no, we don’t need to swing the pendulum to the other extreme, but we DO need to be aware of our activity level throughout the day. Taking into consideration our health needs or restrictions, as well as other commitments to work, caring for others, etc, somewhere in there we need to remember to get up and move.
Walking is one of the easiest and healthiest things we can do for ourselves and can be accomplished without even leaving your home. It can lower our risk of developing diabetes or heart disease, improve our mood and boost energy levels. Just 30 minutes a day will do wonders!
Pause and Think:
Consider the last couple of weeks. Did you get up and move for at least 30 minutes each day? If not, make a commitment to yourself to be active for at least a half hour each day. Walk for 15 minutes in the morning and the same in the afternoon, or break it up into three 10-minute walks. It doesn’t have to be a race, just get up and move! Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you.
8 | Don’t skip your annual physical
It’s important for women over 50 to get a physical every year, even if your overall health has been good. Our bodies change as we age. Things happen.
Your physician will know what types of tests are best for you specifically. Here are some of the most common:
- bone density
- colonoscopy (probably for the 1st time!)
- pap test
- general bloodwork evaluation
We can have issues with blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and more as we get older. Regular monitoring just makes sense.
The best form of self care you can give yourself, and your loved ones, is to take care of your body, and that includes an annual once-over. If you’re fortunate enough to be in good health, like me, that’s all you need.
Pause and Think:
When is the last time you had a physical? If it takes more than a few seconds to recall, perhaps it’s time to pick up the phone and get one scheduled!
9 | Get your rest
If we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies can go into “fight or flight” mode which causes higher blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease. Women over 50, in general, should be getting at least seven hours of sleep a night, maybe more. There is no magic number, my friend, but suffice it to say that if we don’t get the rest we need, our bodies will pay the price.
There are a number of reasons that our slumber is less than stellar, particularly as we get older. Medication, stress, chronic pain, lack of regular exercise (hint!), and sleep disorders can all play a part in how well we can sleep.
Pause and Think:
How well do you sleep at night? If it is an ongoing struggle, it might be time to consider healthy, natural options to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Refer to the link above for natural ways to help us sleep better!
10 | Stay in tune with body, mind, and spirit
We are comprised of more than just the body that others see; our mind and our spirit complete the circle of what makes us…us. And maintaining a balance between those three parts of us doesn’t happen automatically.
It really is an overt action that takes commitment, and as healthy habits go, should be on the top ten list for women over 50. We’re experiencing much change in our bodies, perhaps in our lifestyle, in our family dynamics, and other outside influences. Maintaining the balance is essential.
When we can remain in tune with what our body is telling us (it really will talk to you if you’ll but listen), don’t ignore that still small voice inside, in our heart, and open our mind to what we know is best…that is a habit to hang onto!
Pause and Think:
Do you pay attention to your body, and how it feels throughout the day? Does your mind tell you that you should do one thing, when your heart is saying ‘no’? Commit to yourself to really listen to those essential parts that make you the wonderful, unique person that you are!
Conclusion: Habits for Healthy Living
You are never too old to establish new habits, particularly those that are good for you!
We’ve learned a few things by the time we reach our 50s and beyond. Use this knowledge to commit to giving yourself the gift of self care by making these and other healthy routines a daily part of your life.
Life isn’t always easy or fair, and there are certainly stumbling blocks along the way. But, if we’ve established routines and actions that are part of our everyday living, we can continue on and live life to the fullest.
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