As the body ages health needs also shift, though sometimes in very subtle ways. But being aware, and attending to, these changes can help head off any big issues… things like heart trouble, chronic illness, cancer that might be in your future. Here are some smart tips to meet the changes of every decade.
In your 40s…
This is the time of your life where you have solidified beliefs and had some failures without the world ending – you’ve come into your own and it’s time to shine. Muscle mass can go down by as much as 10% during these years, and this impacts (not in a good way) your metabolism and ups the odds of weight gain and the buildup of dangerous abdominal fat that doubles your risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and having a stroke.
Exercise in these years is essential. You can help yourself by doing three weight training sessions a week, using 8 to 10 different exercises that work all the major muscle groups done properly from 8 to 10 times each. This strength training is in addition to the 30 minutes of cardio workout you’re doing most days each week.
When it comes to eating, the ideal is to fill half your plate with veggies/fruits and another quarter with lean protein. The last space on the plate belongs to whole grains. The protein that comes from what you’re eating is used as a building block for new muscle. Plus, low carb veggies naturally come with lots of fiber and nutrients that fill you up and help to prevent diabetes and heart disease.
These are the years when you need to start knowing more about your own body. You need to have the screenings that give you cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure numbers. You also want to keep up with your dental care and have a dermatologist examine your skin for signs of skin cancer once a year. Women need to talk with their gynecologist about annual pelvic exams, Pap tests and mammograms.
In your 50s…
This is the age where you know more about what you want out of life, and what you don’t. For many women these years bring the onset of menopause… no more hot flashes, night sweats and interrupted sleep, but weight gain is also a distinct possibility, and risk of heart disease goes up as the natural levels of estrogen in the body fall. You might also lose from 5 to 10% of your bone density in the spine and hip over 5 years while in menopause.
You’ll want to keep up the strength training (or start out if you haven’t been doing this) as it really helps your bones. Make sure your aerobic routine is weight bearing (running, walking with faster intervals, light jogging), as this will really benefit your bones.
When it comes to eating for these years, skip the calcium supplements and go for the natural food source of this essential mineral. Calcium is better absorbed with food.
And screenings? Yup, you know the one – a colonoscopy is recommended at 50 years old and these tests, while inconvenient, do save lives. They find cancers at the earliest possible stages, when they can be removed and no harm done.
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Feel Your Best At Any Age Continued…
In your 60s (and beyond)…
These are the years that you embrace who you are and enjoy every minute of life you have. Be proud of the journey you’ve lived and the person you are. Your risk of falls rises dramatically in these years because the connective tissue in the body naturally gets stiffer and less elastic. You can feel more isolated socially because of stopping work, leaving a marriage or losing a loved one. Being too much on your own ups the odds of depression and the risk of an early death by 26% according to one new study.
As far as being active, exercise with a buddy, and keep up both the strength training and weight bearing aerobic exercise. You might also try to volunteer at your local hospital or town offices – it’s a great way to give back and fill time too.
In terms of diet, these are the years you’ll want to keep an eye on fat intake, and limit it to 25 to 35% of your calories each day. Experts believe that half of all people over 65 have prediabetes and cutting the saturated fat while eating more fruits and veggies can cut the risk of full-blown diabetes by an impressive 71%.
As to screenings, you’ll want to have your bone density checked at 65 or sooner if you’re at high risk of osteoporosis. You’ll want to be doing all your other regular screenings, but it might be time to stop the Pap and HPV testing if your results to this point have been normal and you’re not at high risk of cervical cancer.
To your good health,