We can't turn back time, so it's best to embrace healthy habits while we're young and continue to build upon those habits to keep our bodies healthy and happy as we age. Modeling healthy habits is also a great learning experience for our children. What are some of the best habits you can embrace during the decades of your life? Keep reading for more information!
In Your 20's
Protect Yourself from Sun Damage
Your skin is the largest organ in your body and it's critical to keep your skin healthy. One of the best ways to do this is to prevent sun damage which can result in skin cancer. Wear hats to shield your face and neck when out in the sun and always use sunscreen.
The American Academy of Dermatologists recommends everyone use a broad-spectrum sunscreen (protects against UVA and UVB rays), that is water-resistant and contains an SPF 30 or higher.
Minimize Your Vices
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Although not all lung cancers are preventable, those caused by smoking are. According to the CDC, Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. In the United States, cigarette smoking is linked to about 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths. People who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from lung cancer than people who do not smoke.
A glass of wine, a beer, or a cocktail with dinner is not uncommon and ultimately, not bad for you when enjoyed in moderation. Alcohol can become problematic when drinking becomes excessive. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults can drink in moderation by limiting intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men or 1 drink or less in a day for women.
Excess alcohol consumption can lead to both short and long-term health consequences:
Short-Term Health Consequences Include:
- Motor vehicle crashes
- Risky sexual behavior
- Alcohol poisoning
- High-Blood Pressure, Heart Disease, Stroke, Liver Disease
- Cancers of the breast, mouth, throat, liver, colon, rectum
- Learning and memory problems (including dementia)
- Alcohol dependence
In Your 30's
Stay or Get Active!
We all understand the importance of exercise in maintaining a healthy body and mind. But many focus exclusively on cardiovascular health to keep their bodies healthy and fit.
In reality, strength training is a fantastic way to keep your metabolism revved up, keep your body burning calories, and your muscles strong as you age. After age 30, humans start losing muscle mass and regular strength training (even bodyweight exercises) is a great way to stay fit. You don't need any fancy equipment or a designated workout space to begin strength training. Just a consistent routine!
See Your Doctor Regularly
We are good at making sure our young children or elderly parents see their doctors regularly, but what about us? It is important to keep up with your regular visits to a medical professional. Your 30's are a great time to start paying attention to key areas of your health like blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Women should make sure they are getting regular PAP and HPV tests. Routine medical screenings allow you to catch health care concerns early and put a solid care plan in place to keep you healthy!
Mind Your Diet
There are millions of different diets and articles you can find relating to ways to eat healthily, but some of the best advice we can provide is to avoid eating processed foods (chips, hot dogs, candies) and steer towards eating whole foods (nuts, fruits, vegetables). For many people, losing just 5% of their body weight can lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease according to a New York Times article on How to Age Well.
In Your 40's
Get Enough Sleep
Sleeping is part of the foundation for good health. Good quality sleep is important throughout your life, but many find that sleep becomes more elusive as you age. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, sleep deficiency is a common public health problem in the United States. People in all age groups report not getting enough sleep, with an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans having ongoing sleep disorders.
Sleep deficiency is linked to many chronic health problems, including heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and depression. So, how do you make sure you are getting the sleep your body needs? There are several strategies to try:
- Try to move each and every day. Getting physical exercise and outdoor time can help you rest more peacefully at night.
- Don't overdo it on daytime naps, especially too close to bedtime. Most people can feel the benefits of a nap in about 20-30 minutes.
- Keep your bedtime and wake-up time consistent, even on weekends. It's important to maintain no more than one hour of variation in your sleep and wake times. The recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult is at least 7 hours. But each individual is unique.
- Be mindful of your diet. Nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol can cause sleep disruption, so avoid all of these too close to bedtime. In addition, try to avoid going to bed with a very full stomach.
- Many people find practicing meditation before bed can help them prepare their minds for sleep. Others keep a notepad and pen next to their bed so if they wake up with an idea or thought, they can write it down and not ruminate on it all night.
- Avoid screens for at least an hour before bedtime and create a peaceful and serene sleeping environment that works for you!
Start Routine Screenings
As medical research and technology advance, additional preventative screenings are available to help diagnose cancers at their earliest stages. Depending on family history and warning signs, colonoscopies are often recommended beginning as early as 45 years old. Mammograms are typically recommended, for women at average risk, beginning at age 40. Make sure to ask your doctor if they would advise of any special screenings or testing based on your history and lifestyle.
In Your 50's
Your Eyes and Teeth Need Attention
Don't forget about your eyes and your teeth! Many people begin experiencing far-sightedness in their 50's (inability to see close up). Make sure to schedule an exam with an eye doctor so they can help determine the appropriate power/prescription you will need to help with your close-up vision. Eye doctors can also screen for ailments that are often associated with age including cataracts and glaucoma.
Good dental care is key to keeping a healthy smile. As teeth age, they become worn down. The outer layer of enamel can be affected by exposure to acidic foods dissolving this protective coating. Teeth are also more prone to cracks and breaks as we age, opening up a door for potential infection. Cavities are often associated with young children, but adults get cavities too, often around the gumline. Gumlines naturally recede with age and bacteria can accumulate around the receding gumline resulting in the need for a filling.
Stay Connected to Your Community
Your 50's often bring about family changes - with children potentially moving out of the nest and starting on their own. Finding yourself in an empty nest can bring about great joy for some and sadness for others. It is important, in your 50's, to stay socially connected to your community or make connections that foster new interests. Keeping yourself engaged in activities and social outings helps with your mental health. It also helps you build your community and support network that is so important as you age.