Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is always hard work, but it is harder work as we get older. Our bodies change and that can make the challenges of being healthy harder to overcome. Our metabolism slows down, our joints become worn down and our muscles get weaker. The way that our bodies process food becomes more strenuous and slower, so it is more and more important to pay close attention to other areas of our health regimen as we approach and surpass the 40-year mark. All of these tips and tricks become even more important as time goes on, so keep them in mind for the rest of your life!
One of the most important things that you can do to maintain a healthy lifestyle after 40 is to remember to eat a healthy breakfast. As our bodies change, the type of food that we eat is increasingly important to pay attention to. We can get what nutritionists call “decision fatigue” with our meals if we do not eat a proper, filling breakfast so it will help you maintain a better balance for your meals throughout the day. The older that we get, the more that decision fatigue is harder to combat due to stress and a busy life so be sure to set the tone for your day with a healthy breakfast.
Exercise is more and more important as we get older because with age comes greater risk for things like heart disease and cholesterol. Since we process foods differently, it is easier for plaque to build up and for our blood sugar to get out of control. However, our joints and muscles are weaker so the way that we exercise is also more sensitive. If you are an avid runner, you can still do so after 40 but it may be better for your knees to incorporate cycling or elliptical machines from time to time. Strength training is also more important as we get older and, since heart health is the main concern of people over 40, it often gets ignored. Cardio is great, but resistance training and building muscle is just as important when our bodies stop producing those muscles as naturally.
With diet and exercise, the most important tip for after 40 is to form habits. As we get older, life gets more complicated and full of stress and that can make consistent habits hard to form. It’s important to continue to space your meals and snacks out in a reasonable fashion and it gets more important with each passing decade in life. Make sure to eat as healthy as possible, and limit your intake of processed and/or junk food. Eating junk food can be detrimental to your health especially after the age of 40. Most people can get away with eating junk food in their 20’s, but it is not necessarily the case when they reach the age of 40 so make sure to be selective with what you eat. Be sure to include some fruits and veggies, whole grain products, lean proteins and some quality fats in your diet. Limit your intake of sugary drinks, caffeinated drinks, and alcohol. Drinking enough water is also a must. It all depends on many factors, but your goal here should be to drink at least 2 liters of water daily. I know it is a lot easier said than done, but you have no choice in the matter. Drinking enough water is not an option, it is rather a necessity.
Exercise is important as we get older but, since it is more wearing on the body, consistent movement is more important. Instead of sitting at your desk all day and going to the gym for an hour, try spending ten to fifteen minutes every hour or two doing moderate to intense exercise throughout the day. Budgeting to invest in your health can also become cumbersome as we get older because, as we all know, the bills just never seem to stop! Try meal planning for at least one week at a time to make sure that you aren’t breaking the bank but you are loading up on those healthy food items.
Although getting older can be scary, it doesn’t have to be miserable or dangerous. The important things are to form healthy habits, keep the risks of the future in mind but to make sure that you are feeling and looking your best so that you can truly enjoy these precious coming decades! You are not washed up or fragile, you are still strong and capable so do not be discouraged by the number of years you have lived. Instead, be encouraged by the amount of time that you have left and all of the possibilities that you have left to enjoy your life and the people you love.