Live your BEST Midlife
January 19, 2023
Traditionally the ages between 40 and 65 have been classified as ‘middle aged’. As Shane Watson explained in The Sunday Times Style, “‘Middle-aged’ is for those other people – we’re all Midlife now.”
Midlife is the time to explore and enjoy all the opportunities that perhaps you didn’t have the time or money to do when you were younger. And, while a growing number of people are embracing these possibilities during midlife, they don’t actually want to be young again.
What we’re all aiming for is to keep ourselves as fit, healthy and fabulous for as long as possible, and key to this is the physiology of our brains.
1. Move more
Whether you’ve decided to take up triathlons or enjoy an early morning Pilates class, upping the exercise is good for the brain.
Research has shown that the more active people are in midlife, the better their brain health is in the years to come.
Being more active in everyday life can make a difference, too. You can find out more here about how to exercise, without exercising.
2. Keep an eye on your blood pressure
What’s good for the heart is also good for the brain and one study found that people who had a healthy heart score in Midlife had a 50% lower risk of dementia later in life.
The Lancet Commission on dementia, a panel of world-leading dementia experts, recommends that, from around the age of 40, we try to keep our systolic blood pressure (the top number) at 130mmHg or below.
In fact, blood pressure is so important that the Commission has singled out blood pressure tablets as the ‘only known effective preventive medication for dementia’
3. Nourish your brain
Over-50s who said they ate well at least five days a week were almost twice as likely to rate their brain health and mental sharpness as ‘very good’ or above, than those who rarely or never ate well, a study found.
That’s not surprising. While your brain makes up just 2% of your body weight, it accounts for 20% of your body’s energy use.
Have a read of the best foods for brain health to help you keep your brain nourished.
4. Give your brain some TLC
There’s a reason why doctors and leading experts say sleep is important.
Sleep is believed to be key to the formation of new memories and to the clearing out of toxins that have built up in the brain.
One study found that people in their 50s and 60s who slept poorly – getting no more than six hours a night – were more likely to develop dementia.
Give your brain the R&R it craves by getting seven to eight hours each night. For tips on how to sleep better, see our guide to sleep.
5. Make time for your friends
It’s easy to get carried away with work, family and all the in between activities. But it’s equally as important to not forget about your friends. Studies strongly suggest that being socially active in Midlife helps keep dementia at bay.
For example, when researchers tracked the health of 10,000 people aged 35-55 for several decades, they found that someone who saw friends daily at 60 was 12% less likely to go on to develop dementia when compared to someone who only saw one or two friends every few months.
So, whether it’s a regular get-together or a weekly night out, making time to catch up with friends is good for the brain as well as the soul.
6. Look after your gut
Gut bacteria can affect brain health, so changing your gut bacteria can improve brain health.
In a healthy gut, ‘good bacteria’ can keep illness at bay and ‘bad bacteria’ in check, but if something disturbs this balance, the body can become vulnerable to disease.
Keep the gut in check by increasing your intake of ‘good bacteria’. Enjoy probiotic rich foods such as kefir, yogurt and kimchi rich in Lactobacillus, vitamins and minerals.
Find out more about how to maintain your brain health by visiting our guides: healthy diet; sleeping well; exercising; looking after your gut health; keeping your mind active; and, of course, overall healthy living.
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