They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of a cure. That old adage couldn’t be more true when it comes to aging and reducing the risk of developing chronic conditions. Simple changes for a healthier lifestyle in your 40s can help reduce your risks of serious health issues down the road.1 It’s just a fact of life, as we age, our bodies change and we’re more at risk for chronic health conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.2
Many of us neglect our health in our earlier years. By the time we hit our 40s, that neglect can start to pile up. Being healthy isn’t just about reducing risks for health issues, it’s also about feeling your best. We’ve got some advice on staying healthy in your 40s.
Ways to Stay Healthy in Your 40s
Your 40th birthday is a big milestone to celebrate, not dread. Step into your 40s with a positive attitude and new resolve to be the healthiest version of yourself. They say it’s never too late to get healthy and fit, and that's true. We’ve got some tips to help you get and stay healthy during your 40s, setting up positive habits for your 50s, 60s, and beyond!
Changes in Your Health
Turning 40 is a good time to evaluate your health and fitness. You may have neglected your wellbeing in your invincible 20s or just-figuring-it-out 30s. So now is a great time to get on track. Often, when we’re younger and feeling healthy, we skip out on routine exams, which means chronic conditions — high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity — can seemingly sneak up on us. You may feel young at heart, but your body is changing.
Other issues begin to arise during middle age, as you may find yourself having to bump up the text size on your phone, turn up the TV a bit louder, have more aches and pains, and even experience sleeplessness.3 That’s why it’s important to resolve for healthier habits.
Health and Nutrition
As we age, our metabolism begins to slow and we’re more prone to developing chronic health conditions. The best way to reduce your risks for heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, and other health conditions is by maintaining a healthy weight. You can maintain a healthy weight through regular exercise and a heart-healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats, and portion control.3 We’ve got a host of healthy and delicious recipes if you need a place to start or just a bit of inspiration.
Since middle-age is when many chronic illnesses begin to become more likely, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and colon cancer, it’s important to keep up with recommended exams and screenings as well as schedule routine wellness exams with your primary care physician.3
Annual wellness exams can help spot any potential issues sooner - when they’re typically easier to treat - rather than later.4 You and your doctor are also able to track important numbers and what they mean for your health, like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and body weight.
During your annual wellness exams, be sure to ask your doctor these important questions5:
- What screenings or tests should I be getting?
- Am I at a healthy weight?
- How could I improve my overall health?
- What are my risks for heart disease or stroke?
- How does my history affect my risks for illnesses or cancer?
There are many risk factors for heart disease, such as being overweight, having diabetes, smoking, and having high cholesterol. The good news is that there are ways you can lower your risks of heart disease.6 We’ve got some daily health practices for a happier, healthier heart:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who are more active generally live longer and are at less risk for health issues like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some cancers.7 The great news is that it’s not too late to get started living a more active life. Some research shows that increasing physical activity later in life has the same results in reducing risks of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease as those who have been active throughout their lives.8 If you’re new to exercise, there are a few things to consider in your 40s8:
- Consult with your physician to get the a-OK
- Start slowly
- Incorporate balance exercises
- Lift weights as well as doing cardio
Stress is a natural part of life. But too much stress can be bad for your heart. According to the American Heart Association, “Chronic stress may lead to high blood pressure, which can increase the risk for heart attack and stroke.” There are some simple ways you can reduce your stress and support your ability to cope with stress9:
- Spend time with family and friends
- Take supplements (talk with your doctor)
- Reduce your caffeine
- Take yoga classes
- Practice mindful meditation
As we’ve mentioned, eating a healthy diet has many benefits such as helping you maintain a healthy weight and reducing the risks for many chronic health conditions. You may think a healthy diet means boring, bland meals. But a heart-healthy diet — like the Mediterranean Diet — can be flavorful and filling. A heart-healthy diet should include10:
- Vegetables and fruits
- Lean proteins
- Whole grains
- Less sodium
- Healthy fats
Don’t let getting older stress you out - with the right habits in place, you can make the most of your 40s and beyond! And, if you’re looking for more targeted health tips, check out our health advice for women and men in their 40s.