21+19 Years Experience: Healthy Habits For The 40s

Manageable ways to look after yourself in your 40s... and beyond.

The 40s often seem like the middle of the road – a solid age that also seems to be veering on the cusp of greater change. It’s an age where you have more or less solidified who you are personally and professionally and formed some good (and not so good) habits that have carried you here thus far.

For many of us, this age bracket is also when we can start feeling older, in more ways than one. While the stress of an incredibly hectic pace at work may have settled a bit, the decade also carries with it a rise in other potential responsibilities, such as caring for children, often coupled with caring for aging parents, for starters. You begin to feel like you need way more energy, just about when the energy levels start to dip – sometimes accompanied by biological changes such as slowing down of the resting metabolic rate, loss of muscle mass and strength, increased occurrence of lifestyle diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and excess weight, as well as the possible onset of perimenopause in women*.

While the 40s may not necessarily feel like the new 30s, they can be fabulous with some judiciousness and preventive care...a few extra crow’s feet and gray hair notwithstanding.

Here are a few things to consider as you head into your 4th decade (and for years to come):

Keep Track: To know where we must go and how, we have to know where we are! This is a good time to start keeping a thorough check of your health markers and scheduling timely tests for the same, to help mitigate the increase in risks for cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, diabetes, chronic back problems, vitamin deficiencies, cancer and other health concerns. Furthermore, research also suggests that there is an increased risk of the onset of age-related type 2 diabetes during the late 30s and mid 40s, making it all the more essential to be aware of the state of your health. Be diligent with regular screenings, as per your doctor’s advice and also educate yourself about your family medical history. The good news is that medical technology today offers convenient options for self-monitoring as well, such as continuous glucose monitors and mobile apps to help you better manage your health.

Food = Fuel: Make your kitchen and pantry work for you and aim for a functional diet, packed with long-term benefits. One of the most impactful changes when we transition away from the 30s is that the body’s metabolic rate starts to slow down. Additionally, starting at age 40, adults can lose up to 8% of muscle mass per decade, and this rate of loss can double starting at age 70, making it imperative to get the right nutrition from your daily meals and supplements. Often dismissed as being a part of "getting older", the signs of age-related muscle loss include weakness, unintentional weight loss, slower walking speed and exhaustion. Taking the necessary steps to support muscle health is of great importance since muscle mass can be a good indicator of how active and independent you will be able to stay as you age. Eating a balanced meal with adequate intake of protein, fiber, vitamin D, calcium etc is a must. Apart from this, adding special ingredients like HMB (beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate) can help improve your strength and muscle mass. If there’s one big switch you must make for general health, it is to cut out empty calories from food that does nothing much for you, like soft drinks and junk food!

Move Better: Exercise does so much good physically, mentally and emotionally. Incorporating a regular physical fitness regimen is key to helping your body cope with the aging process, preserving muscle health and in helping with the management of chronic ailments. If you have been sedentary for a while, start adding in pockets of movement through the day, after speaking with your trusted medical professional. A thirty-minute daily walk can do wonders for beginners and even minor day-to-day replacements like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking a small bit of your commute or using a standing desk for work, can help you get and stay more active. Incorporating weight training can also help with boosting metabolic activity. increasing bone density and building muscle. Before you begin with or alter a fitness regime, always consult with your healthcare practitioner on what exercises you can include, based on your needs and goals.

Kick the Butt: The best time to quit smoking...is always now! Smoking increases the risk of multiple major health problems with the heart, lungs, throat, organs and more. It also accelerates the aging process of your skin. Take stock of your habit and get the help and cessation aids, if needed, to quit.

Manage Stress: Mental health matters...learn to be kind to yourself. Stress can pile on when taking care of everyone else around you and its management gets more important as we age, with changes in responsibilities and the impacts of stress on physical and mental health. If you have been dealing with a lot lately, never hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional to better equip yourself. Also, take the time to invest in activities and hobbies that make you happy and energized, along with staying connected to those you love.

As with most things, your attitude and willingness to adapt, helps with growing older too. While chronic health problems and aging may not be under our control, building a healthier lifestyle definitely helps in a number of ways and reminds us that midlife isn’t such a crisis after all. Don’t wait for your next birthday to prioritize yourself!

Disclaimer: The information mentioned in this document is only suggestive /for patient education and shall not be considered as a substitute for doctor’s advice or recommendations from Abbott. Please consult your doctor for more information.