Tue | Nov 21, 2017

Over 40? - Fight the ageing process by ditching these bad habits

Published:Wednesday | August 16, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Weight training is critical

You may look much younger and more vibrant than the 40-plus you are, but your body isn’t going to respond the way it did in your 20s.

Sure, no one will ever guess your age, and may be quite shocked to know you are that old, but your body definitely knows and will not hesitate to remind you.
Once you get into your 40s, be sure not to take anything for granted and ignore some basic things you need to do.

Over 40, your metabolism starts to slow down; it becomes harder to maintain a healthy weight; your risk factors for certain conditions go up; and it becomes a whole lot harder to neglect your body and get away with it.

It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy life the same, it just means you have to be more mindful, and take care to avoid some common mistakes that can affect you.

Here are a few bad habits to break so you can stay healthy, fit and strong in your 40s and beyond.

DON’T SKIP STRENGTH TRAINING

There are plenty of reasons to enjoy cardio ­ it torches calories, improves endurance, and reduces your chances of heart attack and stroke ­ but make sure you’re incorporating weights into your workouts, too. We all begin to lose muscle mass around age 30, and it accelerates at age 40.

Muscle mass plays a big role in your basal metabolic rate the amount of calories you burn at rest ­ so when you lose muscle mass, your metabolism slows down. Strength training twice a week can help you rebuild muscle and get your metabolism back up to speed.

DON’T GIVE IN TO SUGAR CRAVINGS

Eating too much sugar can mess with your body’s ability to process it, which can lead to insulin resistance, and, in turn, type 2 diabetes. Since type 2 diabetes is most common in people over 40, it’s smart to start cutting back on sugary snacks if you haven’t already. The American Heart Association recommends keeping your sugar intake below 25 grams per day.

DON’T PUT OFF MAMMOGRAMS

When you’re in your 30s, your risk of getting breast cancer is one in 228. But after you turn 40, the odds jump to one in 69, so your doctor will likely recommend that you start getting regular checks. It is advised that most women start mammograms at 40 and continue getting them annually or biannually, depending on your personal risk factors

DON'T STAY IN A BAD MOOD

Depression is more prevalent among women than men, and once you turn 40, you're also in the age group most likely to have this condition. But according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only about 35 per cent of people actually seek help for their symptoms. If you're dealing with sadness, irritability, guilt, or loss of interest in stuff you normally enjoy - and your symptoms stick around for more than two weeks - it may be more than just a bad mood. Talk to your doctor to see if you need treatment.

ALWAYS TRY TO GET A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP

When your schedule is hectic, you may have trouble powering down at the end of the day. You're not alone: According to the CDC, one in three persons fall short of the recommended seven hours of sleep a night. And getting a good night's sleep becomes even harder once you hit 40.

Shifting circadian rhythms, a natural decrease in melatonin, and the hormonal side effects of ageing can all interfere with getting a good night's sleep. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule, limit your screen time before bed, and block out at least seven hours each night for much-needed zzzzs.

GET REGULAR GYNO CHECKS

At this age, you can typically go five years between Pap tests, as long as you've had normal results up until this point. But that doesn't mean you should skip you gyno visits altogether. You might still need yearly pelvic and breast exams, plus your annual check-up is a great chance to discuss any health issues or hormonal changes you've been experiencing.

DON'T FORGET YOUR SUNBLOCK

Getting sunburn is a bad idea at any age, but as you get older, it's even more crucial to protect your skin from damage. Women over 40 should be applying a facial moisturiser with sunscreen in it every morning, according to experts. And if you've never had a baseline skin exam, schedule an appointment with a dermatologist ASAP - and be sure to check your skin yourself each month for any moles that change in shape, size or colour.

DON'T OVERLOOK EYE EXAMS

If you still have perfect vision or your prescription hasn't changed in the past few years, you may not see any reason to rush to the eye doctor. But after you turn 40, you're more likely to experience eye problems that can lead to vision issues, like glaucoma. Women should start getting comprehensive eye exams once they turn 40, because early signs of vision problems and eye conditions can begin at this age, and the risk increases with each decade afterwards.

MAKE SURE TO GET REGULAR DENTAL CHECK-UPS

Most of us occasionally doze off without brushing or fib to the dentist about how often we floss. But as you get older, taking care of your teeth can stave off some serious health issues. Your oral health is also directly connected with your overall health, and is absolutely necessary for keeping gum disease, heart disease, and diabetes at a distance.

ENSURE YOU GET THE VITAMINS YOU NEED

At menopause, decreased oestrogen leads to a rapid loss of bone density. Maintaining adequate bone density prior to menopause is crucial for prevention of osteoporosis. In other words, now is the perfect time to make sure you're getting enough calcium and vitamin D - either through your diet or supplements - to support bone health down the road. Regular exercise is also good to help strengthen bones.

STOP PUTTING EVERYONE ELSE FIRST

In your 20s and 30s when you're building a career or starting a family, it's easy to put your health on the back burner while you juggle everything else. But it's time to start taking care of yourself as much as you take care of others. Start a new mindset, and think of yourself as a priority. Schedule an annual check-up with your primary care physician. Find time to exercise. Make sure you're getting any screenings and blood work you need. It's easy to put those things off, but preventive care can help you stay healthy for the decades to come.

yourhealth@gleanerjm.com