- Date : 06/07/2018
- Read: 5 mins
There is no denying the fact that my body started responding in some new and unpredictable ways as I grew older. This is how I started paying attention to my health to ensure a healthy and long life ahead.
I believe every decade has an ‘aha’ moment when you realise you’re not as young as you used to be. In my 20s, it was the day after a trip to an amusement park. I felt dizzy and my body ached from being thrown around. This had never happened in my teens.
I thought, “Aha – so this is what it feels like to be grown up!”
But then, in my 30s, the moment came when I realised I could no longer drink like a fish and still be good as new the next day. To think I didn’t even know what a hangover meant in my 20s. Gosh! I was getting old.
However, these were not as worrisome as what happened in my 40s. One day I sat on the floor with my daughter to help her finish her school project. After an hour, when I tried to get up, my legs buckled and my knees gave in. I couldn’t get up without help.
That was a big red flag for me! I realised it was time I accepted my body was going through some major changes. It was time to stop taking things for granted. It was time I focused on my health.
With this understanding, health became my top priority.
4 Health issues you can't ignore
Though overall health is important, there are certain aspects you need to take very seriously in your 40s, such as:
Breast health: According to the National Cancer Institute, one in seven women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. Understand your risks to take preventive measures. Do self-checks and get a mammogram every year.
Osteoporosis: Women are four times more likely than men to suffer from osteoporosis, and the likelihood increases in your 40s. Weak and brittle bones can adversely affect your life. Get a bone density test and thwart the disease before it progresses.
Heart disease: Unhealthy lifestyle and stress are the main causes of heart diseases. A high-stress job, teenage kids, balancing home and work can all create havoc. Take care of your heart. Talk to your doctor and do a stress test annually.
Blood pressure: Again, stress is the leading cause of high blood pressure. Try to find a work-life balance and keep calm.
40s are the new 30s: get fit!
You probably thought that life would sort itself out by the time you hit the big F, but now that you’re there you know it’s a never-ending rollercoaster. However, if you don’t take stock of your health, things are going to hurtle southward.
Build a fitness regimen that you can sustain in the long term. Start with smaller goals to keep you motivated. You need at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. It has to be a mix of cardiovascular, strength training, and flexibility.
Cardio is great for your heart. Start with a 10-15 minute regimen and try to get it up to 45 minutes a day for 3-4 days a week. Run on a treadmill, swim, go cycling, jog in the park, or join a Zumba class. Mix it up.
For overall strength, bone health, and to get rid of loose skin, incorporate weight training. A moderate-to-heavy weight-training programme 2-3 times a week will re-instil that vigour.
Flexibility plays a very important role as you age. A stretching programme should be an inherent part of every workout you do – whether it’s cardio or weights.
6 health tips to be fabulous at 40!
Eat well: Your health and nutrition needs should not be an afterthought. Eat a hearty and nutritious breakfast to keep you energised through the day. Ensure you eat a balanced diet. No more bingeing on snacks or just eating leftovers.
Take supplements: Focus on the health of your joints as bone density starts declining from your late 30s. Follow a diet that’s high in calcium or take calcium supplements. Get your daily intake of Vitamin D from the sun or via supplements. Don’t neglect the B complex vitamins either.
Beat stress: Take up a hobby that makes you happy. It could be dancing, music, art, yoga, meditating, etc. Your ‘me-time’ is important for mental health and peace.
Get health checkups: No, regular health checkups are not a waste of time and money. It is crucial to know your family’s health history and take precautionary measures. Go for an annual health test, or take one every six months if you are a high health risk individual. Do regular breast checkups yourself. Don’t ignore any symptoms.
Kick the butt: If you smoke, give it up right now. We all know about the health issues caused by tobacco. An occasional glass of wine is good for you. Drink in moderation.
Be adventurous: Take a vacation. Try out some adventure activities that you always wanted to do when you were young such as, river rafting, scuba diving, mountaineering, etc. Hang with your girlfriends – it works better than therapy. Live life queen size!