People often panic when they hit their 40s, nervous that their best years are behind them and their body is going to start breaking down.
Those in their 40s are often in caregiver mode, responsible for the well-being of children and parents. It is important, in this decade, to pause and consider how you can take better care of yourself to be an even better caregiver to your loved ones.
Don’t worry – take a moment to reflect
Dr. Farwell encourages patients to reframe how they are thinking about their 40s. “Age is purely a number,” he remarks. “There is not a magic age we should expect these changes to happen. We need to break the stereotype that ‘once I hit 45, that’s it.’ Aging is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”
Instead of worrying about how you’re doing for your age, Dr. Farwell suggests taking a moment to self-reflect in your 40s.
Switch your focus to prevention through exercise, diet and posture
In your 40s, patients are often hitting the peak of their careers and caring for several different loved ones. At the same time, your 40s are critical years in building a foundation of healthy habits to ensure golden retirement years.
“When you hit 40, you’re more vulnerable to diabetes, blood pressure and more,” Dr. Farwell says. “Acknowledge and work through potential issues so that they don’t prevent you from enjoying retirement.”
It’s important at this age to check in and see what your daily habits look like. Dr. Farwell emphasizes focusing on the following in your 40s:
- Exercise. Exercise is far and away the most important practice to keep yourself healthy. Strong muscles are a key part of maintaining a healthy musculoskeletal system because muscles create tension and pull on your bones, strengthening them. Exercise will also help alleviate some issues patients often see in their 40s: repetitive use injuries, early onset arthritis and neck and upper back pain.
- Diet. By the time you’ve hit 40, you’ve had plenty of years to establish lifestyle habits around diet. Reflect on the habits you’ve built, specifically around a balanced diet. For women, your 40s are a critical time for bone health. Our bodies build bones until 35 and then begin to decline. Women should keep an eye on their calcium intake to build up their bone density so they’re at a higher baseline once they start menopause. Lifestyle habits like smoking and excessive alcohol intake can reduce our bodies’ ability to intake calcium.
- Posture. Dr. Farwell insists that your 40s are also the perfect time to start thinking about posture. We exist in a society that often has us looking down – especially during work, at our cell phone and computer.
“With the transition to working from home, it’s even more important to think about the practices like posture,” he adds “Focus on good ergonomics. When you’re looking down all day long, everything in the spine shifts forward. Make sure whatever you are looking at is eye-level to help prevent neck and back problems in the future.”
Aim for regular healthcare visits
Regular healthcare visits are a key piece in keeping up with preventative measures. Mammograms and colonoscopies are scheduled to begin in your 40s. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends starting mammograms at age 40, and colonoscopies at age 45, to ensure any issues are caught early.
Dr. Farwell recommends finding a trusted clinician who you are comfortable with so you establish a relationship with them. If you like and trust your clinician, you’ll likely see them more regularly and keep up with regular screenings.
“It is important for patients who avoid the doctor to know that I will never force them into something they don’t want to do,” shares Dr. Farwell. “I know it can be uncomfortable and difficult to be open with your clinician about health struggles but it makes a big difference in your long-term care.”
Whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, or beyond, you can benefit from an annual visit to your provider. Reach out to Tryon today to see when you can book an appointment.