No one wants to hear a laundry list of things they shouldn’t be doing once they reach a certain age. And, to be fair, 40 isn’t even very old. However, once you hit 40, it may be time to buckle down and take control of your health. If you have been blessed with 40 good years, you are probably looking forward to at least 40 more. 40 is young enough to be active, enjoy life, and pursue new adventures. Taking care of your body now helps ensure it will continue to be strong and healthy into the future.
14. Being a Couch Potato
Spending long weekends shut indoors cocooned on your couch eating junk food and binging on television or video games may have been fine in the past. However, now that you are 40, it is crucial that you get up off that couch and get outside for fresh air, exercise, and interaction with others. Studies suggest that a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of death for middle-aged and elderly adults. So get up off your couch and pursue a new hobby, get out for a walk, or make plans with friends.
13. Staying Up Late at Night
Pulling all-nighters may have been a regular occurrence in your youth. However, depriving your brain of an adequate amount of sleep can have disastrous effects on your memory and cognition. If you are concerned about staying sharp and preserving your mental functioning, be sure to provide your brain with seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Leave the late-night partying or work sessions to the younger set and treat your body and brain to the restorative effects of a proper night’s sleep.
12. Eating Out
Dining out provides a welcome break from meal planning, preparation, and cleanup. However, preparing nutritious meals at home will keep you healthier than dining out on a regular basis. You are likely well aware of the ill effects fast food have on your health. However, fast food restaurants aren’t the only venues that prepare foods high in fat, sugar, and sodium. Furthermore, studies suggest that individuals are more likely to overeat when dining out. From the breadbasket offered at the beginning of a meal to the dessert tray at the end, dining out offers many temptations to overindulge.
11. Certain Sports
Physical exercise is crucial for maintaining heart health, strong bones, and robust muscles. However, once you pass the age of 40, you may want to avoid engaging in contact sports. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the sports that result in the highest number of head injuries each year include football, baseball, basketball, and softball. Cycling is another sport that sends a large number of Americans to the emergency room with head injuries each year. If you do engage in cycling, protect your brain with an approved helmet.
10. Avoiding Exercise
Some sports can increase your chances of breaking a bone or suffering a traumatic brain injury. However, this does not mean you should avoid exercising altogether. At any age, it is important to include daily physical exercise in your routine to keep your heart healthy, strengthen your bones, and prevent obesity. After the age of 40, exercise becomes an even more crucial component of good health. Make time to engage in both cardio exercises to get your heart rate up and muscle-building strength and conditioning exercises.
9. Skipping the Sunscreen
Sunscreen is important at any age. However, the Cleveland Clinic warns that around 40 to 50% of individuals will experience skin cancer by the age of 65. If you have been careless with sun exposure in the past, now is the time to increase your efforts to take care of your skin. Apply sunscreen with an SPF factor of at least 30 half an hour before spending time out in the sun. A wide-brimmed hat and sun-protective clothing are also wise investments.
8. Binge Drinking
Excessive drinking is always a bad health choice. However, it can be even more detrimental as you hit your 40s. As you get older, your body may respond differently to alcohol than it did in your youth. This means it may take less alcohol to cause you to become inebriated. Drunkenness increases your risk of falls and the poor decision-making that can cause fatal accidents. Furthermore, the National Institute on Aging reports that drinking too much alcohol can contribute to cancer, worsen some medical conditions, and cause mental confusion.
7. Giving Birth
With today’s medical advances, more women than ever are delaying starting a family. It is possible to have a healthy pregnancy in your 40s. However, the risks to the mother and baby are greater at an advanced maternal age. Risks during pregnancy when you are over the age of 35 include high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, miscarriage, and low birth weight. If you become pregnant in your 40s, take care to visit your doctor regularly, treat your body and your developing baby to a nutritious diet, and engage in appropriate physical exercise.
While it is important to engage in physical activity throughout your life, there are some exercises you will want to avoid as you get older. According to Camelback Sports Therapy, certain abdominal exercises such as crunches and sit-ups can cause excess wear and tear on your spine. These exercises may even cause spinal fractures. Camelback suggests replacing crunches with core-strengthening plank exercises instead.
5. Going into Debt
Burying yourself in debt is never a good idea. However, as your retirement years inch nearer, it becomes even more critical to avoid debt and sock away money for the future. Kevin O’Leary told CNBC Make It that it is wise to have all your debt paid off by the age of 45. O’Leary offers tips for planning for retirement and paying down your debt. These include saving rather than spending, investing your money, and giving thought to paying off your mortgage. Additionally, O’Leary suggests forming a plan for paying off debt and making use of your company’s 401(k) plan.
4. Avoiding Vegetables
Your mother may or may not have let you get away with avoiding your vegetables. Now that you are well into adulthood, you are wise enough to know that Mom was right when she told you to eat your veggies. As you head into the next half of your life, it is critical to provide your body with the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants contained in vegetables. Enjoy a variety of colorful produce for the best benefit. Include in your diet such treats as dark leafy greens, crunchy orange carrots, nutrient-packed pumpkin and juicy red tomatoes.
3. Popping Multivitamins
You may think grabbing a multivitamin each morning is a healthy choice for your body. However, many multivitamin tablets contain ingredients that may not be right for your particular health needs, metabolism, or condition. Furthermore, many vitamins are not as well absorbed in pill form as they are when consumed in food. If your doctor finds you to be deficient in a vitamin, he or she can make recommendations based on your specific needs. In the meanwhile, enjoying a wholesome diet of whole grains, fresh produce, legumes, and lean proteins should provide your body with the nutrients it needs.
2. Neglecting Annual Checkups
When you are over 40, it is especially crucial to visit your doctor each year for a checkup. An annual visit allows your doctor to catch any health issues before they get out of control. High blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer are all medical problems that can be best managed with early intervention. It is also critical to get your annual flu shot to avoid the illness, lost wages, and risk of complications associated with the flu.
1. Consuming Artificial Sweeteners
You may have turned to artificial sweeteners in an effort to protect your body against the negative health effects of sugar. However, artificial sweeteners carry health risks of their own. Some studies suggest that artificial sweeteners may contribute to weight gain, rather than preventing it. Furthermore, there are studies, such as this one in Molecules, that suggest artificial sweeteners negatively affect the natural flora of the gut. Your best bet may be avoiding foods and beverages high in either added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Instead, stick to naturally sweet treats such as whole fruit.