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Zindagi Badi Honi Chahiye

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

Middle-age is a pivotal phase in our lives, characterised by a multitude of physiological and psychological events - hypertension, diabetes, poor gut-health, menopause, career stagnation, failing parental health and more.


Picture Credit Dave Blazek


It's also a time when most of us become aware of our mortality as one or the other health markers goes off charts - for all my years of being fit and healthy, I learnt a few weeks back that I'm pre-diabetic - fitness FTW!


Willy-nilly, most people in this phase are forced to make active changes to their lifestyle to ensure the balance half of their lives' is not significantly worse off than the first half when it comes to good-health, mobility, ability to think clearly and in general enjoy living. And in that, the real goal for everyone at this stage should be to extend healthspan.


The concept of healthspan is simple. It refers to the length of time during which an individual enjoys good health and maintains a high quality of life, free from the burden of chronic diseases and disabilities. Essentially, it measures the number of years you spend in good health as opposed to simply living longer.




But Why Should You Worry About Your 60s now?


You might wonder why middle age is the right time to start focusing on your healthspan. Well, there are several compelling reasons:

  1. Accumulated Lifestyle Effects: By middle age, most of us have accumulated years of various lifestyle habits. These habits can either support or undermine our health. Middle age is a pivotal moment to reassess and make positive changes.

  2. Early Warning Signs: Many chronic health conditions, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and prediabetes, tend to emerge in middle age. Detecting and managing these issues early can significantly impact your healthspan.

  3. Hormonal Changes: Middle age often brings hormonal changes, particularly for women during menopause and men experiencing andropause. These changes can affect various aspects of health, and addressing them proactively is essential.

  4. Foundation for Aging: The choices you make in middle age can lay the foundation for your later years. Investing in your health now can pay off in terms of a longer, healthier life in the future.


But How Do I Extend My Healthspan?


Extending your healthspan doesn't require drastic changes or turning your life upside down. Instead, it involves making sustainable, science-backed choices that can enhance your well-being.


Here are a few things I do to ensure an extended healthspan - most are very generic but a few specific recommendations are in there as well which have helped me immensely.


Maintain a Balanced Diet: Protein, fibre, fats et al. I am big on getting my macros and micros daily. A high amount of protein & fibre is an important part of my diet. I am naturally gluten intolerant which also means that I cannot eat most things that are high on taste and low on nutrition e.g. cakes, pizzas, parantha, cookies and most other brown coloured food products!

Regular Physical Activity: My favourite part of the day! I engage in both aerobic exercises (like walking, jogging, or swimming) and strength training regularly. My go-to fitness regime is Freeletics - I have been user of this app for almost 2 years now and I think this app understands what my middle-aged body needs - mobility, strength. I aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week.


Prioritize Sleep: I don't get much of this but I aim for 7 hours of quality sleep each night.


Manage Stress: Hardest of all recommendations to follow but picking up a hobby has been a great stress buster for me. 2-3 sessions of squash in a week is my therapy. For many though, seeking support from a therapist or counselor would work better.


Regular Health Check-Ups: Covid made this one easier with so many doorstep health check-up solutions sprouting. It's through one such check-ups I realised that I am pre-diabetic and also on the wrong side of ApoB.


Healthy Weight Management: 63 since 2003! I haven't lost or gained a kilo in the last 20 years. I don't have a secret sauce (maybe that's the reason, if you get the joke) but regular activity - standing while working, workouts, climbing stairs instead of using lifts etc have really been helpful.


Limit Alcohol and Tobacco: I consume alcohol in moderation and do not or have ever smoked in my life.


Social Connection: Tough one as you age but having a clique of friends (including my wife) and talking daily to my immediate family has helped maintain strong social bonds.


Cognitive Engagement: I like to challenge myself professionally everyday and learn a new skill so very often. I don't think middle-age is the time to hang your boots (I'm not in the FIRE camp). I feel my best is still ahead of me and less than halfway through my working/professional life, I still have a lot to go after. Purpose at work helps.


So there it is. The not so secret recipe I am following to extend my healthspan.


I understand that while aging is inevitable, the extent to which it affects my well-being is not predetermined. I am investing in my future self and 40's might just be the perfect time for you to double-down on this too.

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