Want look and feel young into your 40s and beyond? Now’s the time to hit the refresh button.
“When you’re in your 20s and 30s, you have forever”—or so you think, explains Heather Provino, CEO of the workplace wellness company Provant Health Solutions Inc., in East Greenwich, R.I.
But health and lifestyle errors can sneak up on you in midlife and, next thing you know, a routine checkup finds your blood pressure’s up or your blood sugar’s out of whack.
“If you’re not using 40 as that check-in point and that turnout time, those issues will start compounding,” leading to chronic conditions, like heart disease and diabetes, says Provino, an exercise physiologist and sports psychologist.
Here are some common mishaps and tips to get you back on track.
Being addicted to your mobile phone
Are digital devices making us sick? A 2011 Harvard review links prolonged television viewing with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality. More recently, researchers at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston found that blue light—the kind emitted by tablets, cell phone, e-readers and other devices—disrupts the body’s natural circadian rhythms, making it harder to get a good night’s rest.
“We’re creating a generation of sedentary behavior that wasn’t natural, say, even 20 years ago,” Provino cautions.
Tip: Take a 10-minute standing break every hour that you’re using your screens.
Like your cell phone, your body and brain need time to reboot and recharge. Adults 18 to 64 require about 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.Skimping on shuteye does a number to your health, including raising your risk of hypertension, stroke, and obesity. It may also be a factor in depression, and there’s evidence that being sleep deprived promotes biological aging, making you look older than you are.
Tip: Create a relaxing bedtime ritual—no cell phones in bed, please.
Ignoring health warning signs
A wincing pain? A peculiar discharge? When your body offers clues that something’s amiss, pay attention. Identifying health problems as early as possible often makes them more treatable. “The number of women who won’t tell you they found a breast lump is astounding,” Dr. Taber says.”They just want to know if you (the OB/GYN) feel it.” Many patients are afraid, embarrassed, or think they may be wrong, she explains.
Tip: Prepare a list of questions and concerns to share with your doctor before your visit.
Eating too much processed food
Grabbing a bag of chips before hitting the gym is not the optimal way to fuel your body. Over time, all that sugar, fat, and sodium—the secret to making processed foods tasty—can do a number on your waistline and your health. Replacing a diet packed with microwave meals, snacks, and processed meats with whole grains, fresh produce, and lean meats is the way to go. “It’s very convenient to go through a drive-through, but it’s also pretty convenient to boil some water and put it in some oatmeal,” Richard reasons.
Bingeing on alcohol
Most of us know that consuming excessive amounts of alcohol is toxic to the body. “It’s dehydrating, and it’s a process that your body can’t get over as quickly, especially as you get older,” Richard says. Moderation is the key: no more than one drink per day for women and two for men.
Tip: One serving means a 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer, or a shot of distilled spirits.