No matter what your age, making mindful health decisions is important for your long term well-being. Many common diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and some forms of cancer, are directly related to our lifestyle decisions. Quitting smoking, consuming healthier foods and beverage options, increasing activity levels, and reducing added sugar intake can make a significant difference in your health throughout the decades.
In recognition of Women’s Health Week (May 11-18, 2014), Vonda Wright, MD, UPMC Center for Sports Medicine orthopaedic surgeon, offers tips on how to live well through each decade of your life.
If you are 20-something…
Many women in their 20s are typically on their own for the first time and making health decisions themselves. Between launching a career building relationships, maybe having kids, and enjoying their independence, 20-somethings are on the go. This busy lifestyle can sometimes affect health-conscious decisions, and can contribute to the trend of young women becoming heavier and unhealthy. This trend is due in part to a decrease in physical activity and poor nutrition. Establishing healthy habits in your 20s is an essential building block for a healthy life. Focus on nutrition and fitness with strength training twice a week and 150+ minutes of aerobic exercise weekly.
Twenty-something women eat 25 percent of their meals on the go, but on-the-go doesn’t need to mean unhealthy. Whether you’re grabbing a quick meal or sitting down to eat, choose food options that include more greens. Leafy green foods are filling and nutritious, containing vitamins and minerals that have countless health benefits.
In addition to diet modifications, Dr. Wright adds, “Whether you are choosing to drink regular or light alcoholic beverages, those drinks have calories, and they add up. Drink in moderation.”
Dr. Wright also recommends that everyone, especially 20-somethings, take the time to protect their skin from the sun. Whether it’s with sunscreen or a hat — preferably both — this protection will help your skin remain youthful and can help prevent skin cancer.
If you are 30-something…
Your 30s are a busy decade, but it’s also a time to immerse yourself in physical activity. One thing every 30-something should be focused on is building bone density and maintaining good bone health. Until the time you reach your mid-30s, your bone strength increases with wise nutrition and fitness decisions.. Once in your mid-30s, your ability to add bone density slows, eventually stops, and depending on your lifestyle, may start to decrease. This is important to understand because weak bones lead to osteoporosis and can increase your risk of fractures and breaks. After all, the number one indicator of a fracture is a previous fracture.
In order to build and maintain bone strength, Dr. Wright recommends increasing your calcium intake and participating in high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Not only will these activities help 30-somethings build better bones, but also better brains.
University of Pittsburgh researcher Kirk Erikson, PhD, found that exercise can increase brain function and help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.Regardless of your age, Dr. Wright advocates for establishing a relationship with your healthcare provider. The first time you meet your doctor shouldn’t be in an emergency. A physician is able to offer better treatment if he or she is familiar your needs and history. Additionally, having regular exams and annual check-ups are essential in maintaining good health and detecting any possible issues early.
To find an expert to fit your health needs, visit the UPMC website.
Read more health tips for your 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70+
About Orthopaedic Surgery
An established leader in advanced orthopaedic care, the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery offers comprehensive services for the full spectrum of musculoskeletal conditions. Our more than 40 orthopaedic surgeons and staff use some of the latest imaging technologies for diagnoses, and perform some of the most advanced surgical techniques as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
About Sports Medicine
UPMC Sports Medicine is the region’s largest and most experienced center dedicated to caring for athletes of all levels. For more than 25 years of world-class care, we’re proud to offer more services, have more physicians, and treat more student athletes than any other sports medicine provider in the region.