By your 40s, you may think you are set in your ways -- time to shake it up. Your 40s are a great time for a lifestyle overhaul. Every time you notice a little ache or pain -- let that make you more determined to be as active as possible, to live at a healthy weight and to have a great attitude. Pick one or two items from this To-Do list each month and make your 40s your healthiest decade yet. You'll feel great and live longer too.
From mammograms to prostate checks -- your 40s are a time to begin making (and keeping) appointments for screenings. Depending on your gender, family history and own health, the screenings you need will change, but what doesn't change is that you are going to need some screenings in your 40s -- everyone does. Make an appointment today to talk with your doctor about prevention and screenings.
Studies have shown that being married actually increases your life span. Research is also showing that having a strong network of friends and family can help, too. Other people can help you reduce your stress and keep your from developing bad habits. (Of course, they can lead you down the path of bad habits, too). Invest time in cultivating healthy relationships with people who are good for you -- your spouse, your children and your friends. Make an effort to strengthen those relationships for your long term physical and emotional health.
Fruits and vegetables will save your life. These foods provide your body with the raw materials of good health. Antioxidants
, for example, help your body to prevent damage. You need to eat more fruits and vegetables -- 7 to 9 servings every day is a great goal. Start by adding 2 servings, every day this week.
Extra weight is hard on your body. It is hard on your heart, which has to pump more blood. It is hard on your knees, which have to support more weight. It is hard on your emotions, which have to deal with guilt and blame. Losing the weight is great. The good news is that creating a healthy lifestyle now can still help to prevent and even reverse the damage done. Losing the weight, exercising and eating right can add years to the life of a 40-year-old. Don't think it's too late -- you can still do a lot be healthier and live longer.
Those tests your doctor gives you are just a part of the prevention picture -- there are also simple tests you can do at home or with the help of a clinic. These are things like blood pressure, heart rate, your hip-to-waist ratio and more. These tests tell whether you are living a lifestyle that promotes health. Get out a piece of paper and create a health lifestyle log today.
If you haven't established a daily relaxation habit, now is the time to start. You need some way of letting go of the business of the world. This will reduce stress and help prevent chronic illnesses like high blood pressure. Find some outlet, a way to let the day drop away for just a few minutes.
Whether you've been exercise for years or need to get started, be sure that your exercise is fun. Exercise can be so much more than just moving your feet on a treadmill. Find ways to use exercise to socialize with other people, to learn new things and to challenge different parts of your body and mind. Don't accept exercise drudgery -- find a way to make it fun.
Your doctor becomes an important part of your longevity plan in your 40s. You need a doctor who can help monitor your health and make sure you get all the right screenings. You also need a doctor who will manage any medical conditions the way you want them managed. If you don't have a good doctor, time to start looking. First write out what you want in a doctor and then be sure to ask lots of questions. You are looking for a doctor who "fits" with your style and approach to health.
Sleep is hugely important for your health. In the early 1900s, people got an average of 9 hours of sleep a day -- now it had dropped to less than 7.5. With commuting, long hours and (let's admit it) lots of TV channels and the Internet, we just don't seem to have as much time for sleep. That's not good for your health. Studies link poor sleep habits with heart conditions and other serious health outcomes. Make a pledge to get to bed early and become a master at falling asleep.
The "Sandwich Generation." That's the name for people who are taking care of both kids and parents. Being in the middle of the "sandwich" is incredibly demanding and stressful -- so much so that it can create illness. If you are a caregiver, be sure to find some way of relaxing
and taking just 5 minutes for yourself every day. If you think you might become a caregiver for a parent, take some time to make plans and arrangements ahead of time.