For some reason, people think turning 40 is the end of the world. Let me tell you something: it's not. Turning 40 just means a whole new chapter of your life is about to start. But, when you turn 40, it's time to start changing things you do in your every day life - especially when it comes to your health.
These are a few things you should take into account once you hit the big 4-0, and consider adding them to your routine.
1. Start Lifting Weights
Most people will stick to cardio at the gym because it's easier to pass the time, but lifting weights is actually a lot better if you're looking to lose weight, and also helps with your bone and muscle mass. According to Rachel Straub, an exercise physiologist, your muscle mass steadily declines after the age of 35. This then leads to reduced metabolism and decreased bone density.
Lifting weights two times a week can help counter-act this decline, just make sure you keep these things in mind:
- Learn proper form - otherwise you could get injured
- Do the first few reps with no weight, just go through the motions until you feel comfortable
- Train two non-consecutive days a week and focus on a different muscle group each day (leg day vs upper body, etc)
- Aim for three sets with 12 repetitions for each move. The last few reps of each set should be tricky. If it's not challenging, you're not using enough weight.
2. Sleep More
You don't have to tell me twice! I'm always down to get more sleep. When you don't get enough sleep, you can become less productive and develop poor eating habits.
“Sleep deprivation disrupts our hunger hormones making us feel hungrier when we haven’t gotten enough rest,” says Rachel Begun, a registered dietitian, nutrition educator and advocate.
You should be developing a bed time routine, whether that means reading a book, doing a crossword, or just a little bit of meditation. Your routine should not include screen time or exercise.
“Finish your workout at least a couple of hours before bed, turn off all screens at least one hour before bed, and avoid anything that causes you stress," Begun recommends.
3. Take Care Of Your Heart
Did you know that one in three women die from heart disease? It's the leading cause in death among women, which means you want to make sure you're taking care of your heart. Things like EKGs or stress echocardiograms are important to prevent a heart attack.
“Another important test includes a cholesterol screening/lipid profile which should be done yearly,” says Sherry Ross, an OB/GYN and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. “Checking blood pressure, fasting glucose levels, and body weight is also vital to avoid being at risk for hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.”
4. Go Easy On Yourself
Mental health is just as important as physical health. You'll probably find as you get older that you start to slow down, and that's okay! Remember to be kind to yourself and only do what feels comfortable. Perhaps last year you could run a mile, and now you can't. Don't push yourself to hit milestones that you might not be able to reach anymore. It's natural for your body to slow down, so be nice to yourself and let aging happen - there's nothing you can do to stop it, anyway.
5. Quit Smoking
Frankly, you should have quit smoking a long time ago, but now that you're in your 40s it's really time to cut out that nasty habit. As you get older, smoking becomes more detrimental to your health. If you quit, though, you're bound to see the results almost immediately.
“Keep in mind that smoking isn’t just detrimental to your lungs,” says S. Adam Ramin, MD, a urologic surgeon in Los Angeles. “Your kidneys and bladder, your body’s filtration system, must process the toxins from cigarette smoke, too. They weren’t made for such a burden.”
6. Watch Your Eyes
I know it sounds funny, but watching out for your eyes is extremely important. Setting your computer font to be larger or getting reading glasses aren't things to be ashamed of. If they help, then you should be doing them.
“When we turn 40, the first thing that may set in is a condition called presbyopia, meaning the eyes begin to lose their ability to focus up close,” says Mark Jacquot, clinical director of LensCrafters. “You may feel a bit more fatigued after prolonged work from looking at digital screens all day and you may begin to get headaches at the end of the day. More frequent blinking combined with preservative-free artificial tears every few hours can work wonders to keep your eyes lubricated throughout the day."
7. Get Skin Screenings
Every year you should be visiting a dermatologist to make sure that your skin is healthy. They will check for moles and abnormal spots on your skin that could be cause for concern.
“While new sun spots are common, it isn’t normal to develop new moles in your 40s and older,” says Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, a dermatologist in Beverly Hills. “It could be the sign of an atypical mole or melanoma forming.”
You should be using sunscreen daily, even if you don't think you're being exposed to that much sun. You can get facial sunscreens that are light and not oily, and will help you stay protected from UV rays. You should also be checking your skin for spots that are asymmetrical, irregular borders, different colors, or always changing or growing.
8. Drink More Water
You should always be staying hydrated, but this is even more so the case when you hit your 40s. The older you get the more you need lots of water for your kidney function and metabolism.
“Water is needed for every function in the body, so getting enough is important for keeping metabolism efficient,” she says. “The general advice is to get eight glasses of water per day, but you may need more or less depending on physical activity, body composition and climate.”
You can get water from sources like citrus, berries, tomatoes, watermelon, and veggies. Obviously you should drink water for most of your intake, but these foods can help you reach your goal.
9. Eat More Protein
We've already learned that you can lose your muscle mass as you get older, so eating a lot of protein helps preserve your lean muscle mass. Things like ground sirloin, eggs, chicken, and edamame should be finding their way into your regular diet. Eating this much protein can help your body burn calories more efficiently.
10. Get Regular Mammograms
Clearly this one is for the ladies out there, but you should be monitoring your breast health as you get older. One in eight women are hit with breast cancer, so you should be keep up with checkups and mammorgrams.
"For most women, mammogram testing should begin at age 40 and continue every one to two years depending on your history and risk factors,” says Dr. Ross.
You should speak with your doctor to determine when it's right to get your first mammogram and then figure out a schedule from there.
Turning 40 can be scary or intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Just make sure you're keeping up with your healthy routine and everything will be great.
[H/T: Reader's Digest]