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How big 5-0 could herald new lease of life

Two 50-something wellbeing pros share their top tips for embracing the milestone

By Miona Martic

Nearly half a million women in the UK will turn 50 this year - including TV favourite-turned-fitness-fanatic Davina McCall, 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 UK.

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 plans 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 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, two 50-something experts share their insights for optimum wellbeing when celebrating the big 5-0.

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 (www.karma-and-diamonds.com), 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.

"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 different things until you find the one, or two, that are a direct expression of 'you'. Do things that unleash your happy hormones.

"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."

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