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Things to Never Do After Age 50, Say Experts

Avoiding these common habits could lead to a longer life.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

You know how to stay healthy after 50, right? Eat less processed food, move more, et cetera. Well, yes. But the reality is, maintaining optimum health in middle age and beyond is a bit more complicated—experts say you should avoid lapsing into some common (but often overlooked) bad habits. These are five things you should never do after age 50. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Don't Skip Routine Screenings

Probe colonoscope. Doctor gastroenterologist with probe to perform gastroscopy and colonoscopy
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Your 50s are the decade in which a number of cancer screening tests become crucial. The best way to prevent life-shortening illnesses is to detect them early. A major example: If you're due for a colonoscopy and keep avoiding it, it's time to make the appointment. The American Cancer Society now recommends that screening for colon cancer begins at age 45 for people of average risk. Talk with your doctor about screening for breast and prostate cancers too—along with blood pressure and blood sugar (A1C) testing.

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2

Don't Settle For Inadequate Sleep

Sad Woman Lying On Bed
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Good sleep is essential to good health and a longer life. Poor-quality sleep has been linked to weight gain, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression, even dementia. That's because the body repairs itself during sleep, sweeping toxins out of the body, repairing cellular damage, and calibrating the metabolism. Experts including the National Sleep Foundation recommend getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night. If you're having trouble getting to or staying asleep, talk with your doctor. They might advise cutting back on caffeine, limiting naps, getting more exercise, or addressing anxiety or depression.

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3

Don't Skip Strength Training

Fitness girl doing dumbbells plank row exercise lifting dumbbell weights. Woman doing floor workout renegade row or commando alternating plank row at gym.

Strength training (or resistance training) is great for keeping the metabolism humming and losing weight, if you need to. After age 50, it becomes a key to bone health. By age 40, our bone density drops by about 1 percent annually. When we weight train, muscles pull on the bone, which increases bone density. Studies show that even light weight lifting with higher reps can increase bone density. Aim for two strength-training workouts per week.

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4

Don't Avoid the Dentist

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Periodontal disease—which affects the bones and gums around teeth—is a condition that increases after 50. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss. What's more, studies have connected periodontal disease to other health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. See your dentist regularly, and be sure they measure your gums and review your X-rays for signs of bone loss.

RELATED: Everyday Habits That Age Your Body, Say Experts

5

IDon't gnore Your Mental Health

Elderly woman stands by window look away.
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Mental health issues like anxiety and depression can surface with age, even in people who never experienced it in their younger years. Signs can be subtle—if you're experiencing increased irritability, fatigue, or impaired sleep, talk with your doctor. 

And be sure to make time to laugh. Seriously—it has demonstrable health benefits. Laughter "enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain," says the Mayo Clinic. "Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress." Laughter has also been shown to strengthen your immune system, relieve pain, and improve your mood. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael
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