Healthy Living: 7 Things You Should Do Frequently After Age 40
When you’re over 40, you have a whole lot to worry about aside from your work and normal day life, you need to start doing things that will keep you alive, inshape and healthy. You need to be conscious about things that may affect your health, body as well as aging. Read more below
Age 40 is a milestone when the risk of many health conditions increases. This makes the birthday a perfect time for taking stock of your health, experts say.
Whether people have demanding jobs, aging parents, growing children or all of the above, it’s easy to put health aside. But 40 is the time to evaluate your wellbeing, and to plan for the long-run.
“Forty is a good time to take a deep breath, and, although you have a lot of other things out there, do a little introspection and say, ‘OK, there’s some things I need to do to make sure I stay healthy,'” said Dr. Sandra Fryhofer, an internist at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta.
And if you’re not there yet, there’s no reason to wait, said Dr. William Zoghbi, professor of medicine at the Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center in Houston and president of the American College of Cardiology.
“It’s not like people are going to wake up and say, ‘I’m 40, I’m going to change everything I’m doing to get healthier,'” Zoghbi said. Instead, “the earlier they can start, the better it is for them.”
Here are seven ways to stay healthier when you are nearing or turning 40:
Keep your eyes open for vision problems
At age 40, vision can start to worsen, so have your eyes checked out, Fryhofer said. “You need to be able to read the fine print on medicine labels, and lots of different labels. If you don’t have reading glasses and you can’t read the fine print, you might miss some important information,” Fryhofer said.
She also suggested wearing sunglasses to prevent further damage. “Too much sun exposure can increase cataracts, so sunglasses are a good idea,” Fryhofer said. “Make sure they have the UV-A [and] UV-B protection.”
A diet high in fruits and vegetables – which are full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals – may slow vision loss, added Heather Mangieri, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The leading cause of blindness in the elderly is a condition known as macular degeneration. It affects 9.1 million Americans over age 40. “Macular degeneration tends to be genetic, but we can use nutrition, a diet rich in lycopene (found in red fruit and vegetables) and antioxidants to slow down that vision loss,” Mangieri said.
Know your numbers
Age 40 is a good time to look into your numbers for blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar and body weight. “People need to know what their cholesterol level is and if they haven’t checked before age 40, they should,” Zoghbi said.
When you visit a pharmacy, take time to get your blood pressure measured, and visit your doctor to get a simple blood sugar test, he suggested. Knowing these numbers will help you and your doctor identify potentially hidden disease risk-factors.
For example, people with higher blood pressure are at higher risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney failure, Zoghbi said.
Explore your family history
During your fifth decade, it’s time to look carefully at your family tree to find out if your genetics increase your risks for diseases such as cancer or heart disease. “Once you hit 40, when things go wrong, you have to think of the C-word and that’s cancer, cause you’re no longer a kid,” Fryhofer said. “That’s a good time to make sure you understand your family history.”
For example, those with a family history of colon cancer may want to get a colonoscopy at age 40, instead of waiting until age 50, Fryhofer said.
The same goes with heart disease: a calcium test can help determine whether your arteries are starting to harden, and if you need major lifestyle changes or medications. “People get by with a lot until they hit 40, but then when you hit 40, it’s got to be a little bit about you. It can’t be just worrying about everybody else,” she said.