When you’re younger, your body swaps out worn-down bone cells with new, strong ones. By the time you’re in your 50s, you have more broken-down bone cells than can be replaced. This means your bones naturally get weaker. To protect them, eat foods that are high in calcium and vitamin D. Weight-bearing and resistance exercises like hiking and lifting weights can also help your bones stay strong.
The tissue and cartilage that cushion your joints begin to thin over time, and you’ll feel the effects of this in your 50s. (Men may notice it sooner.) To stave off joint pain and arthritis, start with your posture. When you slouch, you put pressure on your joints. And keep an eye on your weight, since extra pounds can put pressure on your joints. Also, drink lots of water. When you’re thirsty, your body pulls fluid from joint tissue.
Once you hit your 50s, your chances of a heart attack go up. Exercise can help keep your heart and blood vessels healthy — aim for at least 30 minutes of activity most days. (Even short walks count.) Try to keep your weight and blood pressure within a normal range, too, and if you haven’t stopped smoking, now’s the perfect time. Cigarette smoke is a major cause of heart disease.
Around the time you turn 50, your hair can start to thin and recede, especially for men. It probably will also be turning gray, depending on your ethnic group and your family history. It’s common to feel self-conscious about how “old” your hair looks, but you can color it.
If you have to squint when you read your phone, that’s because the lenses inside your eyes get stiffer with age. They can no longer quickly switch from a faraway focus to an up-close view. Glasses (like “readers” you buy without a prescription) may help, or you might need a new vision prescription.
Nearly 95% of people who are 50 or older say they’re “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their lives. But in women, the hormone shift of menopause can cause changes in mood. And illness and heavy alcohol use can make you more likely to be depressed. A simple strategy to boost your mood: Sit less and move more. Your chances of mental health issues are higher if you sit more than 7 hours a day or don’t exercise.