For the most part, people don’t normally think about the effects of aging when they’re in their 20s or 30s. For whatever reason, 40 tends to be the point at which they start to think: “I’m getting old!”
It’s never too early to focus on making healthy life choices, of course, but 40 is as good a mile marker as any to start to make sure you’re on the right path.
Adopt These Healthy Habits
As life expectancies have increased, 40 has become the new 30. If you treat your body right and make smart, conscientious decisions, you can live a happy and healthy life for many decades to come. Here are some habits we suggest you might adopt as you start the fifth decade of your life.
- Get a Yearly Eye Exam
Even if you’ve gone through life with perfect vision and never had the need to get an eye exam, 40 is the age at which you should schedule a visit. “You should see your optometrist or ophthalmologist at least once a year after you turn 40, even if you don’t wear glasses or contact lenses,” Swagel Wootton Eye Institute suggests.
“Many serious eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma are asymptomatic until their later stages, which is why an annual check-up is essential even if your eyes feel great.”
- Check Your Blood Pressure Every Week
Age 40 is the ideal time to begin tracking your numbers for such factors as blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. Blood pressure is especially easy to check and should be done weekly.
You can either purchase a monitor to use at home or head to your local pharmacy where they should have a machine you can use. Use this Mayo Clinic chart to interpret your numbers.
- Hit the Gym
“Age-related muscle loss, called sarcopenia, is a natural part of aging,” Harvard Medical School explains. “After age 30, you begin to lose as much as 3% to 5% per decade.”
Once you reach the age of 40, you can lose as much as 1 percent of your muscle mass per year, which is why it’s worthwhile to hit the gym and incorporate weight lifting into your routine.
You don’t have to tackle heavy weights. You only need to stimulate your muscles so you maintain what you have.
- Take Sleep Seriously
A person’s quality of sleep tends to diminish with age. This is partly due to increased stress and responsibility, but the decline is also rooted in hormonal changes that start to emerge after the age of 40.
It’s highly recommended that you get a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night after you’ve turned 40. This will bolster your immune system, reduce stress levels, and help you recover from exercise.
If you have trouble falling asleep, developing a bedtime routine may help.
- Drink More Water
Hydration is vital for almost every facet of health and well-being — particularly after the age of 40. You should always have a bottle of water within easy reach.
Try drinking at least one glass of water with every meal, as well as one or two glasses between in each meal. If you like to drink coffee, alcohol, or other beverages, make sure to drink at least one glass of water per each of those drinks.
- Swap Screens for Books
There’s nothing wrong with spending time on social media or watching a TV show now and then, but you shouldn’t spend all your time focused on a screen. There are reasons to believe that excessive screen time can accelerate cognitive decline and dementia.
So you might want to swap out that screen for a book! Everyone over the age of 40 should aim to read at least two books per month. (This amounts to roughly 20 pages per day.)
If you do that, you’ll be forcing (or let’s say encouraging) your mind to be active and sparking the learning areas of your brain. This will lead to greater engagement and mental agility.
Give Your Body What it Needs
Everyone has unique health needs, conditions, strengths, and weaknesses. By the time we reach the age of 40, we all should have a plan in place for monitoring and managing our health.
If you implement the preceding habits, you’ll discover that aging doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. In fact, you may find you’ve entered the best years of your life.