So, I’m 40. Now What?
While our health is constantly evolving, the changes that occur in our 40s can be fairly significant and can happen relatively quickly. Consequently, as you move into that decade, it’s a good idea to plan for how you will maintain your health going forward.
7 Tips for Staying Healthy in Your 40s
Follow the tips below to ensure that your 40s are your best decade yet.
- Stay hydrated. Proper hydration is necessary for optimal health at any age. However, it takes on added importance in your 40s. Getting enough water supports everything from your energy level to the health of your skin. How much water you need is dependent on a number of factors including your activity level, body composition and the climate where you live, but consuming eight 8-ounce glasses per day is a good target. Also keep in mind that water-rich fruits and vegetables such as berries, watermelon, tomatoes, and peppers can also contribute to proper hydration.
- Be aware of vision changes. It’s common for our vision to worsen in our 40s. Regular eye exams can ensure that you have the correction you need to see clearly. Not only does poor vision pose a risk in activities like driving, squinting can lead to muscle tension and headaches. Also, be sure to wear sunglasses to help prevent problems like cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Get adequate sleep. Being tired from insufficient sleep decreases your energy level, but it can also have a negative impact in other health factors such as your weight. Sleep deprivation affects hunger hormones, causing you to have a bigger appetite when you haven’t gotten 7-9 hours of restful sleep. This can be especially problematic in your 40s as your metabolism begins to slow.
- Add weight training to your exercise regimen. Lifting weights two or more days a week can help you maintain muscle mass and bone density. If you’ve never done weight training before, be sure to get instruction on the proper form, as incorrect technique can lead to sprains, strains and other injuries.
- Eat more protein. We begin losing lean muscle mass in our 30s and that trend continues into our 40s and beyond. Shifting your diet toward more protein from sources like lean meat and chicken, and also vegetable protein like edamame can help you preserve muscle mass and the calorie burning it provides.
- Examine your skin often. While it’s normal to begin seeing “age spots” on your skin as you get into your 40s, the development of new moles or changes to existing ones is something you should make note of and talk with your doctor about. Catching skin cancer early increases the odds of treating it successfully.
- Talk to your doctor about recommended health screenings. Paying attention to things like your cholesterol level, blood pressure and other measures is increasingly important as you move into your 40s. Your doctor can tell you what tests are recommended for you and how often you should have them done.
The health practices you develop in your 40s and the strong relationship you build with your doctor will pay dividends for decades to come.