With more people living longer, aging healthfully becomes a necessity. Until a fountain of youth is found, we’ll have to rely on adopting the best habits possible to ensure that as we progress through life, we’re doing so in a way that is optimal for our bodies. Some practices carry over from age to age, meaning that the small changes you start in your 20s or 30s will keep bringing you benefits long into your 50s. Keep reading to learn some of the best aging practices, as well as tips on staying healthy throughout life.
In your 20s
Dr. Oz told O, the Oprah Magazine that for people in their 20s, meeting daily calcium requirements is a must. We can increase bone density until reaching about 30 or so, and by making sure the daily requirement for calcium is met, people in their 20s can limit their risk of developing osteoporosis later in life. Most people in their 20s should strive for is 1,000 milligrams per day, and dairy is a great source of calcium and other nutrients for a healthy lifestyle.
Joy Bauer reiterated the calcium message to Today, adding three foods in particular that people in their 20s should start consuming. First up was a skim latte: Bauer favors the drink for its energizing powers and the calcium found in its milk. Next there was oatmeal, a heart-healthy way to start the day and much more nutritious than the multicolored breakfast cereal many enjoyed in their youth. Finally, Bauer said to eat spinach since the leafy green is a nutrient powerhouse that is easy to prepare, pack, and enjoy.
Insider Health adds that in this age range, it is key to find a fitness routine you enjoy and can stick to three times a week. Working out will increase your energy levels, and having a workout schedule now is a good foundation for later in life. Another foundation to lay is a healthy diet. To do this, slowly kick your fast food habit and start paying attention the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that compose a healthy diet.
In your 30s
If you’ve hit your 30s and are noticing changes in how you gain weight, TC Palm says you can fight back against metabolic changes by becoming more active and cutting back on your caloric intake. The body requires fewer calories as it ages, and eating in excess could be contributing to your newly found — and unappreciated — weight gain. Even when you aren’t working out, you’ll want to stay hydrated to keep your skin looking its best, a goal that can be helped by eating plenty of antioxidants and using products that contain them, as well. You’ll also want to sort out your nutrition needs, keeping in mind not only calcium but other vitamins and minerals like iron and magnesium.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center says that for men in their 30s, it is important to de-stress, stop smoking, and stay active. Since muscle mass tends to begin declining for men in their 30s, adding strength training can help combat this problem, while building bone density can help you maintain a healthy weight. Being active is a good start, but it won’t help too much if you are constantly stressed about buying a house or starting a family. By using breathing exercises, yoga, or going for a walk, you can combat chronic stress and the health problems associated with it. Staying away from tobacco includes even the rare cigar, the Anderson Center says, since one cigar can have as much tobacco as a pack of cigarettes.
Women weren’t left out of the mix when it came to the Anderson Center’s advice. Along with the same strength training and stress-busting guides given to men, women need to add getting tested for HPV to their Pap smear. The Anderson Center recommends once every five years for the HPV test, which can coincide with the Pap test visit. It is also time to put out cigarettes, since lung cancer kills more women on a yearly basis than breast cancer.
In your 40s
Rachel Meltzer Warren explained the dietary changes women in their 40s need to make to Health. Warren said that to keep your heart healthy, consider adding fish like salmon or trout to your diet two times each week. Staying fit and trim will also lessen the chances of developing heart disease, cutting back on other health risks — such as breast cancer — as well. Keeping up with calcium remains an important factor, and cutting down on salt — a change that could ease bloating — is another of Warren’s recommendations. Since red wine has been linked to breast cancer and has added calories you may not want to indulge too much in the alcoholic beverage. Soy and herbal iced tea can be healthy dietary additions at this age, but it is also key to find a balanced diet that fits your lifestyle and that you can easily maintain.
For men in their 40s, this is the decade during which accidents stop being the leading cause of death and heart disease takes over. Another health problem men encounter in their 40s is melanoma, and weight maintenance is of course important at every age. Men’s Health advises taking charge of your diet and lifestyle so that you minimize these factors. For your ticker and waistline, cut back on the consumption of fats and create a healthy work environment. If you know you’re going to be burning the midnight oil, surround yourself with healthy meals and snacks so that you aren’t tempted to go for the double cheeseburger and fries.
You can also use foods to prevent clogged arteries. Grapes are one way to do this, since the antioxidants in the skin of this little round fruit have been found to lower cholesterol and prevent blocked arteries; red wine may have the same benefits. As for melanomas, being aware of the problem and protecting your skin from the outside is the first step, and you can go further by eating foods high in beta-carotene, because this works from the inside out to deflect the sun’s rays. Sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene, as are cantaloupe and carrots.
In your 50s
For women, estrogen levels drop, heart disease risk increases, and the brain can decline along with the immune system. But it isn’t all doom and gloom, Prevention says, because the changes necessary in your 50s are not complicated. First off, you’ll want to get enough sleep, as being well rested will keep your stress levels down. Alter your sleep schedule slightly to see if you can squeeze in an extra 30 minutes of shuteye by going to bed 15 minutes earlier and waking up 15 minutes later each day — a trick men can use, too. Make sure you’re packing your day with nutritious options like salad. Of course, getting your daily dose of vegetables is not enough, and a multivitamin can be an essential part of health in your 50s. Cut down on your risk of colon cancer by eating healthy bacteria: a cup of yogurt will accomplish this. While you’re at it, up your fiber and calcium intake, too. Exercise can keep your brain healthy and is another way to reduce stress and other health risks.
That bit about being active isn’t only for women — men in midlife tend to gain weight, too, WebMD says, so exercise is vital for staying mentally and physically fit at this age. Men also need to be going regularly to the doctor, a practice they may been lackadaisical about in the past with no repercussions, but with the health risks that increase in your 50s, making a regular visit to the doctor is common sense.
Physical activity isn’t the only key or factor that applies to both men and women. The AARP says everyone in their 50s needs to remain socially active because this is beneficial to stopping cognitive decline. Our brain cells are still growing in our 50s and 60s, meaning there are still opportunities for learning. Women need to be eating more calcium starting in their 50s, aiming for 1,500 milligrams each day, but men shouldn’t slouch in their intake, either.
Just as both men and women want to ensure they are engaging in strength training and finding calcium-rich foods to eat in their 30s, the same practices were highlighted by the AARP for healthy living when you hit 50 too. This is a great example of how starting out early with good habits can transition with you as you age gracefully, keeping you as fit and healthy as possible.