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.
If you’re a 40-something…
Your 40s are a critical decade. By the time a woman reaches her 40s she typically has many roles, such as mom, wife, caregiver, and working professional. As women age and their responsibilities and demands increase, they can lose themselves in the activities of their daily lives. The health decisions women make in their 40s don’t affect just them. Studies show that 80 percent of family health care decisions are made by women.
The decisions and habits from this decade set the stage for the next few decades for women and their families. To start, Dr. Wright recommends cutting free sugars (adding to coffee/tea, desserts, orange juice, etc.) and salad dressing from your diet. Additionally, she recommends adding leafy greens and taking control of your metabolism by living a more active and mobile life.
These simple changes can make a large impact on both your health and your waist line. In December 2013, Dr. Wright, a dessert lover, decided to cut all added sugars from her diet. Although initially a challenge, she was rewarded at the end of the month when she stepped on the scale and discovered she had lost 8 lbs.
Dr. Wright’s number one tip for women in their 50s is, “Don’t despair; we have an ever-changing body.”
Many 50-something women start feeling unlike themselves. But the good news is that the healthy habits you adopted in your 20s, 30s, and 40s will continue through to your 50s. If your health decisions weren’t as wise during those decades, it’s not too late. Start by being your own advocate. As a woman in her 50s, you’re not alone in the changes that are happening to your body. Speak up, and take advantage of the collective wisdom of your mother, sisters, or girlfriends who have been through it all.
You can also start by registering for a race. Whether it’s a 5k or a marathon, running can be a safe, healthy exercise. You won’t be alone either; this year approximately 1400 of Pittsburgh Marathon runners were women in the 50+ category. Regardless of your previous activity level, there are a number of resources available to assist you, including:
- American College of Sports Medicine physical activity readiness self-exam
- Training tips and techniques from UPMC Sports Medicine experts
- PRIMA program for masters athletes
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.