Stay healthy after 40
Age 40 is a milestone when the risk of many health conditions increases. The decade ahead signifies a new life season full of exciting transitions. Whether people have demanding jobs, aging parents, growing children or all of the above, it's easy to put health aside. But 40 is the time to evaluate your wellbeing, and to plan for the long-run.
Use these tips for managing the unique emotional and physical changes of your 40s for a lifetime of health and happiness to come.
Explore your family history
During your fifth decade, it's time to look carefully at your family tree to find out if your genetics increase your risks for diseases such as cancer or heart disease. For example, those with a family history of colon cancer may want to get a colonoscopy at age 40, instead of waiting until age 50, The same goes with heart disease: a calcium test can help determine whether your arteries are starting to harden, and if you need major lifestyle changes or medications.
Know your numbers
Age 40 is a good time to look into your numbers for blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar and body weight. Take time to get your blood pressure measured, and visit your doctor to get a simple blood sugar test. Knowing these numbers will help you and your doctor identify potentially hidden disease risk-factors.
Schedule Your Well-Woman Exam
Your 40s are an important decade for preventing health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease and many types of cancer, from occurring later on in life. Beyond knowing your family health history, scheduling your annual well-woman exam has never been more important for chronic disease prevention and early detection. In your 40s, your health care routine should include:
* Eye Exam: Every 2 to 4 years
* Blood Pressure: Every 2 years
* Pap Test and Pelvic Exam: Every 1 to 3 years
* Thyroid Check: Every 5 years
* Mammogram: Every 1 to 2 years
* Blood Glucose: Every 3 years (starting at age 45or according to your risk score)
Boost Your Metabolism
As we get older, our metabolism naturally slows down. This is especially true for women over the age of 40, when the beginning of menopause causes decreased estrogen levels that slow down metabolism and increase appetite. As hormones and chemicals in your body begin to change, you may experience weight gain, even if you haven't had weight issues before. You can proactively counter these physical changes by incorporating these metabolism-boosting dietary tips:
* Eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day
* Include omega-3 fats, like fish oil
* Eat a low-fat diet high in protein
* Aim for 35 grams of fiber daily
* Eat low-fat or nonfat dairy products every day
* Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day
Practice Stress Control
Stress can strike at any age, but you are especially prone to it during your 40s, when your body isn't quite as resilient as it once was. Learning to manage stress and anxiety is important for your mental and physical health in the future. Talk to your doctor about mental health screening if you are experiencing any of these feelings.
Strengthen Bones & Muscles
Your peak bone mass (maximum bone density and strength) gradually declines in your 40s and beyond, increasing your risk for osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue, and can lead to fractures and other problems. After menopause, women are at even higher risk for this condition. Bone thinning is a natural process that can't be halted completely, but healthy diet, high in calcium and vitamin D, and regular weight-bearing exercise, including strength training, can help prevent osteoporosis.
Your life and body change with each decade. The good news is that with the right diet, exercise, regular visits to the doctor and understanding the transformations in your body, you can keep looking great and feeling great for years to come.