Dear Dr. G,
Mohammad Ali famously said: "A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life!"
As the typical Generation X cohort, I am edging towards the age of 50 by the end of April. I cannot help but reflect on my own health, career and life in general. I often wonder if I have wasted my journey in the last 30 years.
Generation X emerged during the shifting societal values, following the baby boomers and preceding the millennial.
According to research, the 1990's Generation X youth were notably slackers, cynical and disgruntled. As young adults, they subsequently took on an entrepreneurial nature. And in midlife, this generation apparently epitomised individuals with active, happy lifestyles while achieving work-life balance.
As the clock is ticking towards the big five zero, I observe changes in my appearance, bodily strength and inner soul. I acknowledge I cannot escape the fact I am getting older.
Labelling this as midlife crisis or self-reflection, I would like to take this opportunity to put Dr. G on the spot to share his thoughts on the ways to stay healthy and sexy, and sustaining the physical and mental wellbeing from this point onwards.
I confess I have not taken all the right steps in life to stay healthy. However, I am determined to stay focus and venture into the "5 Series Club" with a positive mental attitude.
For those who know me well, it doesn't take a genius to work out that I am actually writing to myself. Although some people may be blessed with youthful looks and positive attitude of calling 50 being the new 40, that doesn't change the fact our body is 50 years old.
The fifth decade of life witness changes in achievement, success and health. Some changes may be invigorating and exciting, others can be difficult and challenging. Being in the sandwich generation, many observe their parents' health failing, while the children are all grown up and heading towards their own journey. This leaves some aspect of life in the 50's within our control, and others out of our hands, especially our health and emotions towards our love ones.
Not meaning to be morbid and pessimistic, the risk of many non-communicable diseases increases naturally with age, especially after 50. However, it is never too late to take active steps to minimise the adversity later on in life.
A healthy diet is paramount to sustaining healthy longevity. Good nutrition such as lean protein, healthy fats, whole grains, fibre, fruits and vegetables are crucial, even without health supplements.
When an individual enters his/her fifties, the tendency to replace lean body mass with fat is evident, due to hormonal changes. Maintaining a healthy weight with active physical and mental exercises has also proven to enhance stamina and improve brain health. Meta-analysis of many studies showed 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity improves heart and bone health. Regular challenges of the mind, staying focused and keeping in touch with friends and family are also thought to enhance mental wellbeing and reduces the risk of depression.
The other key ingredient is having adequate sleep and stress reduction. Good sleep is crucial for health at any age, particularly beyond the fifth decade of life as sleeping pattern changes as we get older. Needless to say, chronic stress in both genders is well recognised to be associated with illness and fast tracks the aging process.
Finally and most importantly, sex after 50. I refuse to accept when stepping into the over-50 crowd that I have to settle for a less-than-fulfilling sex life. I guess the key is to put more thought and planning into it than when younger. Firstly, keeping the stamina and energy both inside and outside the bedroom should help to sustain the intensity of sex. Of course, regular exercise enhances confidence in lovemaking. Lastly, there is no point venturing into the fifties and looking back with partners regretting sexual preferences that has not been attempted. After all, what is there to lose for not attempting something new?
As the clock is ticking towards Saint George's Day, which Dr. G is named after this Patron Saint, who slayed the dragon and rescued the princess, Dr. G put himself on the spot to reflect on the last five decades of his life.
The French writer Victor Hugo claims: "Forty is the old age of youth and fifty is the youth of old age". Although the new chapter of the "5-Series Club" will spell the beginning of "Youth of Old Age", Dr. G is determined to eat healthy, exercise regularly and dampening the stress to ensure a youthful stamina continuing slaying the dragons, inside and outside the bedroom! Wish me luck!
Dr George Lee is a consultant Urologist and Clinical Associate Professor whose professional interest is in men’s health. The column “Ask Dr G” is a forum to help men debunk the myths and taboos on men’s issues that may be too “hard” to mention. You can send him questions at firstname.lastname@example.org