6 ways to maximize your health in your 40s

40s-woman-smiling
We asked local health experts to share their advice on how to maximize your health in your 40s.

Remember when you were a teenager and being 40-something sounded so old? If you have now entered that dreaded decade, don’t despair. Age is just a number as long as you take proper care of yourself.

While certain signs of aging – think: laugh lines and a slower metabolism – are inevitable, making smart decisions about your health can help you look and feel decades younger.

We asked local health experts to share their advice on how to maximize your health in your 40s. Here’s what they had to say:

Maintain your balance
Balance problems are a common cause for falls, especially as you get older.

Weakened muscles and ligaments make you more susceptible to injury, plus fear of falling can severely impact your quality of life.

Moore suggests adding balance-building exercises to your regular workout, like standing on one leg. Bicycling and weight-lifting can also improve your balance.

Know your risk for type 2 diabetes
While you can become diabetic at any age, type 2 diabetes most commonly emerges in your You’re your nutrition and exercise habits — or lack thereof — play a big role in your risk level.

Stephen Permut, professor and chair of the department of family and community medicine at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, suggests taking a self-screening test at DoIHavePrediabetes.org to keep yourself informed.

Pay attention to posture
As you enter your 40s, you might notice that your shoulders are more rounded and that you are experiencing more aches and pains in your back. A lifetime of bad posture can lead to a severe curvature of the spine called postural kyphosis. Women with osteoporosis are particularly at risk.

Let’s talk about sex
In your 40s, health problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and depression can lead to problems in the bedroom. According to Bruce B. Sloane, MD, FACS, a specialist in men’s health issues and age management medicine at Philadelphia Urology Associates, medications and chronic illness can obstruct blood flow to the penis in men and cause vaginal dryness and painful intercourse in women.

Kristene Whitmore, MD, medical director of the Pelvic and Sexual Health Institute at Drexel University’s College of Medicine, said that if you are having concerns, it is important to talk to a doctor.

“Often times patients are not comfortable talking to their doctor about sexual health, and the doctor doesn’t always think to ask about it,” Withmore said. “But there is no way for us to help unless you identify the problem.”

Eat right and exercise
Proper nutrition and regular exercise is a winning formula for all ages. According to Permut, every healthy adult, aged 18 to 65, needs at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity five days a week, or 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity three days a week.

Reducing your intake of processed food and added sodium as well as beverages with added sugar is also recommended. Better foods to eat include berries, oranges and peppers. High in antioxidants, they will help fight the signs of aging. And garlic, onions and green vegetables in your diet will promote better heart health.

Make yourself a priority
“Our 40s are often a time of many demands – family responsibilities, more responsibilities at work — while trying to carve out at least a little time for exercise and hobbies,” said Sarah M. Whitman, MD, clinical assistant professor, department of psychiatry at Drexel University College of Medicine. “This is also the time that you might be taking on more caretaking for aging parents.”

Despite all these demands, it's important to practice self-care - eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, and including relaxing and fun activities in your daily life. 

“It’s important to be aware if your life is in balance,” Whitman said. “Even if each day or week isn’t perfectly balanced, overall are you devoting time to the people and things that are most important to you?”

Whitman suggests trying to be mindful of the rewards and joys in each day, and practicing gratitude and mindfulness. If your life needs a correction – either minor or major – take some time to figure it out now.

This is the third installment in series on healthy living tips for every age group. Have a suggestion? Contact us at health@philly.com.