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I Went to a Wellness Conference With the Industry’s Best — Here’s What They Want Women Over 50 To Know

Turns out, you can have it all, no matter your age


Stepping into the Pierre Hotel last Friday, I immediately felt a buzz of excitement. The iconic Manhattan landmark had been transformed for the day into into a haven of self care for Organic Spa Media’s 12th annual NYC Experience Wellness & Travel event. A leading authority in the wellness, lifestyle and travel space, Organic Spa Media has been empowering individuals to live their most fulfilling lives since 2007. Each year, they bring together industry leaders, passionate wellness seekers and the latest trends under one (very chic) roof.

I was there on a dual mission: to cover what FIRST readers should know about health and wellness as well as hear our esteemed editor-in-chief, Liz Vaccariello, moderate one of the panels. I tried a hypnotic sound journey, relaxed under a red light bed, and connected with like-minded individuals. But the highlight of the day was the Wellness Around the Globe symposium, a full-day masterclass led by industry titans. Each panel and keynote address explored a variety of hot-button topics in wellness, including menopause, experiential travel and longevity. Here are 6 key takeaways these experts want women over 50 to know.

1. Keep it movin’

mature woman outside exercising to boost physical wellness
Robert Daly/Getty

Many women over 50 shy away from exercise. But keynote speaker Joy Bauer, MS, RDN, CDN, emphasizes the importance of movement. “Exercise alone is incredibly important,” said the nutrition and healthy lifestyle expert for the TODAY show. But getting active inspires other healthy choices, like proper nutrition. “When you do start, you automatically want to make smarter food choices,” said Bauer.

Bauer incorporates both walking and strength training into her weekly routine. “Exercise gives me my mojo; I try to do it first thing in the morning. It gives me the chance to destress,” she added. Even gentle movement helps maintain physical and mental well-being. The key is to find activities you enjoy and can incorporate into your day, like brisk walking or gardening. Consistency is key, even if it’s for 20 minutes, 2-3 times a week. But if you want more of a challenge, keynote speaker Dr. Mike Roizen, recommends “at least 10,000 steps a day is ideal.”

See also: Fitness Experts Reveal the Best Time to Work Out + Easy Hacks That Boost the Benefit of Any Exercise

2. “Balance” comes with self awareness

Achieving balance in the face of burnout can feel like an impossible dream. But panelist Bija Bennett, author, speaker and wellness activist, offers a powerful perspective. She emphasizes that true balance isn’t a static state, but rather a dynamic journey that requires self-awareness. “How can you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you are?” she asked the audience.

Bennett believes the first step to achieving balance is understanding your own needs and limitations. “Where do you want to go? How do you feel?” After asking these questions, she advises to “take inventory, then you can make choices and change something.” Don’t be afraid to make conscious decisions about how you spend your time and energy. Remember, balance isn’t about “perfection” — far from it!

3. Befriend your gut

mature woman picking out produce at the grocery store

The gut microbiome, the trillions of bacteria living in our digestive system, plays a far greater role in overall health than most people realize. “Our metabolic health takes a big hit during menopause,” explained Dr. Casey Means, MD, a Stanford-trained physician and co-founder of Levels, an app that helps you track your metabolic health. The author of Good Energy, she explains we should be supporting our mitochondria, the organelles in our body responsible for producing energy, in fighting off fear, stress and fatigue. “It’s all related and we have so much control, and we can make our symptoms much easier, including hot flashes.”

There are ways to nurture this gut garden. Dr. Means listed several, including “taking probiotics in the morning, going to the bed at the same time, drinking warm water with lemon and eating more simple, plant-based meals.” These provide nourishment for the beneficial bacterial in your gut. And a happy gut is a healthy you.

Related: Top MDs Reveal the 10 Best Foods to Eat For Gut Health

4. Know your (face’s) ingredients

The beauty industry is full of products labeled “natural,” but this doesn’t always translate to safe or effective. Panelist Nicole Musco, director of product development at Jane Iredale, explained, “Not all natural things are good for you, so it’s all about skin compatibility. We have to be careful with what you put on your skin,” as some natural ingredients can be irritating or even harmful to certain skin types.

Always do your research before buying any beauty product, natural or otherwise. Look for products formulated with ingredients that are gentle and effective for your specific skin concerns. Additionally, check for certifications from reputable organizations like Environmental Working Group (EWG), consult your dermatologist and listen to your skin.

5. Nurture your crew and passions

mature women laughing and painting pottery together

Social connection is essential for well-being at any age, but it can become especially important for women over 50. Dr. Roizen emphasizes the power of a lifelong support system. “The most important way to manage stress is to develop a posse,” the chief wellness officer at Cleveland Clinic explained. “When you’re young, it’s easy to make friends and keep friends. But if you get older, you’ve got to nurture your posse. And you also have to nurture your passions.”

Surrounding yourself with positive, like-minded people who support and uplift you can make a significant difference in your overall happiness and well-being. Reconnect with old friends, join a club or group focused on shared interests or volunteer in your community. And when it comes to passions, anything you enjoy can add zest to life, like reading, pottery or painting.

6. Embrace preventive care

Regular screenings for mammograms, colonoscopies and other health checks are crucial for early detection and prevention of potential health issues. One in particular to consider? Vaginal pH testing. “Often we forget to look at the vaginal flora,” explains panelist Manon Pilon, director of research development at Derme & Co and author. “If they become more pathogenic, like getting stressed wearing tight clothes or even having a bath with sulfate….those pathogens will turn into mold and release toxins.”

Schedule regular checkups with your doctor and build a strong patient-doctor relationship. Many offer simple and painless at-home tests that can be purchased over the counter at most drug stores.

Related: These Are the 4 Overlooked Health Screening Tests Doctors Say Women Over 50 Shouldn’t Skip

A final note on wellness

As the conference ended, it seemed everyone felt empowered to redefine wellness. These insights weren’t just about adding years to life, but about adding life to our years at any age. By incorporating these simple yet powerful tips into our routines, we can create a long and happy future. This experience solidified my belief that well-being is a lifelong journey. After all, we are worth it!

For more on wellness, click through these stories below:

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Can Sound Baths for Anxiety Ease Your Stress? What You Need to Know

How to Have More Energy — 6 Expert Tricks to Outsmart the ‘Great Exhaustion’

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