More than half a million women in Ireland and the UK will turn 50 this year – including TV favourite-turned-fitness-fanatic Davina McCall, plus Kate Garraway and Ulrika Jonsson.
But far from feeling past their heyday, 82% of women are winding up, not down, as they approach this landmark birthday, according to a new survey by Boots.
The poll, which quizzed 1,002 women turning 50 this year, suggests we’re really embracing middle-age and beyond, with over a quarter (27%) admitting they plan to travel and see more of the world, and one in five (19%) revealing they’re now doing more exercise than ever before. Exciting career aspirations were also a priority for a fifth of women at 50, while one in seven plan to take up volunteering.
However, while in general it seems women are feeling very positive about entering their 50s, more than nine out of 10 (92%) admit to having concerns about their health.
“Women turning 50 now feel younger than their previous generations, with most viewing this time in their lives as a threshold of new opportunities and experiences,” says psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos. “That said, turning 50 heralds a decade of transition, with many physical and psychological changes on the horizon, and there are some women who are feeling less certain about their next life chapter.”
Here, three 50-something experts share their insights for optimum wellbeing when celebrating the big five-oh…
Boots Pharmacist Liz McPherson gives her top tips on dealing with some common health concerns
“Dropping oestrogen levels [associated with menopause] can cause hot flushes, sleep disturbance and low mood. Soya isoflavones is a plant extract that exerts actions that mimic oestrogen, and some women feel this helps give them relief from symptoms. Joint pain that gets steadily worse with age can be a sign of osteoarthritis. Mild symptoms can be managed with regular exercise, weight loss, suitable footwear and joint supports, but for more severe symptoms, speak to your GP. Deteriorating eyesight at 50 is very common; age-related long-sightedness, also known as presbyopia, is a natural part of the ageing process. It can be corrected easily by wearing glasses or contact lenses; visit Boots Opticians for an eye test and advice on frames that suit you.
“It’s natural for your metabolic rate to slow down as you get older, so maintain a healthy balanced diet and take regular exercise to help counteract its effects,” she adds. “If you have high blood pressure or have had previous heart conditions, an at-home blood pressure and atrial fibrillation monitor can help you monitor for any irregularities. Sometimes atrial fibrillation is intermittent, so regular home screening can help give you peace of mind and help spot any potential problems. Always visit your GP if you have any concerns.”
Author, life coach and yoga instructor Smita Joshi talks about embracing the freedom of an empty nest
“When your children leave home, the silence of the gap left behind by what seemed like a ‘full’ life can sometimes become deafening. You may have thought you knew yourself intimately, but now, at this new stage of life, with the sense of loss that children leaving home can make, old and buried aspirations and desires now feel like regrets or unfulfilled longings. To feel fulfilled in your own being, develop a nurturing relationship with your innermost self – peace and contentment are rooted in this central aspect of who you are. Experiment with different forms of exercise, dance, yoga, meditation and mindfulness. Learn to paint, perhaps do a degree. Travel across India or China by rail. Try out different things until you find the one, or two, that are a direct expression of ‘you’. Do things that unleash your happy hormones.
“Whatever you do, make it something that puts you in direct touch with your deeper nature, expresses you, and brings you radiance and joy. Turning 50 is nothing to be afraid of, and remember, there are things you can now do that you may not have been able to before, whether because of work or home priorities. You can now embrace all the passions you left behind.”
Janey Lee Grace, author of Look Great Naturally… Without Ditching The Lipstick, says looking good really is about what’s on the inside
“I think as you age, it becomes so much more important to feel comfortable in your own skin. I can absolutely assure you it’s the ‘energy’ of a person that really shows beauty, not whether or not they have wrinkle-free skin or the perfect pout. Having said that, few of us can accept everything going south and our once youthful looks descending into wrinkle-dom, so how we can embrace our age and still look and feel great? I believe it’s all down to the natural approach, it IS possible to look and feel great without resorting to chemical concoctions and invasive treatments.
“Eat well, as unprocessed as possible, but be realistic – of course the odd glass of wine is OK, and the odd pudding. Ditch the chemicals in your skincare and personal care products. It’s easier than it sounds; just because you have always ‘sworn’ by that night cream doesn’t mean it’s the only one for you. Your state of mind is critical. Give yourself the gift of time out to relax and de-stress and find something that makes you happy.”
Think short workouts aren’t worth the bother?
Think getting fit requires shed-loads of time and effort – and that anything less than a long workout isn’t worth bothering with? Half of us think a workout needs to last at least 21-40 minutes in order to be effective, while a fifth (19%) think 41-60 minutes is the minimal time required, according to a recent survey by Freeletics, creator of some of the world’s most popular fitness apps. Overall, of the 1,508 people quizzed, around 77% overestimated the amount of time they actually needed to spend exercising – which could go some way towards explaining why so many people struggle to keep up with fitness regimes. Two-fifths (39%) admitted lack of motivation’s their top reason for skipping a workout, and 32% cited lack of time as the problem. Philipp Hagspiel, head of research and development at Freeletics, says: “Despite common myths, you don’t need to do an hour-long workout for it to be effective. In fact, just a 15-minute workout can often lead to better results than a 90-minute one. Short bursts of HIT (high intensity training) are a more efficient way to work out, as it takes minimal time and keeps burning energy and calories for up to 24 hours after you have finished your workout.”