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Your Health Matters Too: How to Stop Putting Yourself Last with Your Health

By Kathy Bates April 26, 2024 Health and Fitness

There are a lot of amazing positives to being an older woman, over 50 or better! We have earned the right to call ourselves wise. With the kids older, or moved away, we have time to focus on ourselves more. By age or design, we stop caring so much about what others think, and more about what we need. But many of us have spent a lifetime caring for others. Putting others first. Always taking the last (and usually smallest) piece of cake, right? (Metaphorically or otherwise!)

But there is one place we can no longer afford to put ourselves last, and that’s with our health. By now, we know we are not invincible. Our bodies have been around the block. Some of us are dealing with chronic pain. Some of us have faced cancer or other serious illnesses. There is a reason that you should get routine mammograms starting at age 50. Remember the adage, “If you don’t take care of yourself, how are you going to take care of anyone else?” It’s time. Here are some easy health tips for older women!

Movement Matters

Notice I didn’t use that pseudo swear word, exercise. I get it, I hate the gym. HATE it. But even if you’ve never exercised before, you need to start getting movement in. Your health depends on it. Movement keeps your muscles strong and reduces the risks of falls. Your heart needs exercise to stay strong. Movement helps you sleep better, which as you will read below, is everything.

Your bones are less likely to become weak if you do regular load-bearing exercise. Bonus? You will be able to do more, keep yourself at a healthy weight, and even lower the risk of dementia. You don’t have to go out and buy weights. (Unless you want to!) Just get in a brisk walk for 20-30 minutes a day. Just walk!

What You Eat Counts

Remember our mothers telling us, “You are what you eat”? Well, it’s never been truer than it is right now. Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables and minimizing red meat is a great first step. Don’t start by trying to take things away from yourself. That never works. But add in more of the good stuff. And eat that first, then treat yourself after. You can check out my article on Healthy Picks for Women Over 50 for great ideas.

Self-Care and Mental Health Is a Thing

So many of us are dealing with fatigue, depression, and anxiety. Your mental health should be just as important as your physical health. It’s all just health. And here is the thing, stress may be causing most of our serious diseases.

According to WebMD, 75-90% of all doctor visits are stress-related. So, learn mindfulness or meditation. Get regular exercise. Foster a hobby or volunteer. And ladies, let’s be the generation that puts a stop to the stigma surrounding counseling and therapy. We don’t want our granddaughters to hide their pain. Let’s show them the way. 

Don’t Put Off That Mammogram

I am guilty of this. Putting mammograms, yearly physicals, and even dentist visits on the back burner because of one word… busy. Until a dear friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was a year younger than me. Fortunately, it was caught on a routine mammogram. In the U.S., insurance providers are required to cover mammograms. So don’t put it off. Even if you find it uncomfortable, remember, chemo and radiation aren’t too comfortable either.

Sleep Is Everything

I have dealt with insomnia my entire life. Because of issues from anxiety to chronic pain, I toss and turn and lay awake for hours. And when I was raising little ones? Forget it, I was the only one up all night with them.

According to the National Council on Aging, sleep problems contribute to major disorders. Everything from heart disease to arthritis to diabetes can be affected by poor sleep. For me, a combination of learning coping skills to deal with anxiety, exercise, and medication when necessary has helped me to sleep the best I have in years. If you can’t get good zzz’s on your own, visit your doctor for help. 

It’s easy to just read an article like this and say, “I know I need to do it. I’ll get to it.” The problem is, unless you prioritize good health as a woman over 50 or 60, by the time you hit 70 or 80, the damage might already be done. Don’t wait. Make it as important as it is.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you prioritizing your health? When was the last time you went to the doctor/dentist to get a routine checkup? Which part of your health are you most concerned about?

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Rita Boone

I have been retired for exactly 1 month. I am so grateful to have the nagging stess of my job behind me.

My first priority has been my health. I LOVE going to the gym doing treadmill and weight work. It recharges me physically and mentally. I go every other day and declutter my house on the days in between.

I have many other things planned too. Happy 😊.

Kathy Bates

I LOVE how you are prioritizing your health! Go Rita!


Hi, Your article makes alot of great points but I am dismayed by how many author’s that write for older women ,actually say that they “hate the gym. HATE IT”….authors are a role model for women who are looking to improve their health and also move into the risk of taking on a new activity, I am a little put off by this statement…. Let’s all stop this URBAN MYTH about gyms. Most of them are supportive communites that encourage and change lives for all sorts of older wise women….I am hoping that no women that were thinking about trying out a gym read this article. Sometimes it’s best that we keep our personal opinions to ourselves just incase we steer someone in a direction that may not be the right path for them because of our own bias. I Say, Most gyms offer a trial . Take the leap. You may never look back and become that older woman that gets stronger and healthier and finds alot of new friends. Sincerely,Tracy


I appreciated the author’s honesty, she hates gyms, so what. I do too. There’s other ways to move, and I do. If we all start trying to be mindful of writing what someone may or may not like then what’s the point. If I don’t agree then I don’t agree, it doesn’t mean one shouldn’t have said it. For me there’s was no intent of harm or offence, so I reckon it’s a good article.

Kathy Bates

I hope you liked the article Mariana, thank you for taking the time to comment! 🤗

Sue Maule

Totally agree. There are so many other ways to get healthier than going to the gym and for me a walk in the fresh air is much better. I would rather the authors of articles on this type of site are honest; if she had said she loves the gym it wouldn’t have made me want to join one.

Kathy Bates

Hi Tracy! Hating gyms is just my truth, I never intend to suggest it was the only option! I support any woman who finds that a gym is her place to exercise… I share my personal opinion because I know there are women who relate to it… if you didn’t relate to this article I take no offense! 🤗

Karen Denise Jennings

Most definitely! I am extremely grateful that arthritis is my major health problem and I know there are those of us who have much, much worse! I enjoy my church activities and hobbies, but I have also begun working full time. I have noticed a huge change in how tired I get and have reduced my extra nights because two/three hours after working eight hours is Not effective for my health. Sleep and rest and my hobbies are my rejuvenation!

Kathy Bates

Hi Karen! I’m so glad you are aware of how important it is to pay attention to your health! One step at a time, right? 🤗

The Author

Kathy Bates teaches women 50+ who struggle with a positive mindset (who doesn't?) to empower themselves to live an amazing life. She teaches about confidence, style and self-esteem, just for older women!

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