10 healthy habits to put in place by age 40
Forty years is plenty of time for us to get stuck in our ways.
So after turning four decades old, what should we do? I recommend that those in their 40s really take a hard look at their lives – physically, mentally and spiritually.
This self-reflection can include our work, health, relationships, even the way we eat. Are we giving equal time for the things that are important to us? Or are we taking certain aspects of our lives for granted?
For many, turning 40 means stopping to evaluate what we want in life. Here are some suggestions on finding your way, if you so choose:
1. Begin preventative health care
Turning 40 typically means taking proactive steps toward maintaining your health. Visit your doctor annually for a checkup. Get your immunizations, lab work (for example, testing your cholesterol and glucose levels), Pap smear and mammogram for women. For men, make sure you have an annual testicular exam with a doctor and monthly on your own.
2. Maintain a positive attitude
If you review your goals and how you’re spending your hours, you’ll become more intentional in your daily life and be able to meet your long-term ambitions. Make a habit of gratitude. It’s good for the heart and soul. Have a monthly date night. Keep good company. Compliment people. Laugh and smile. Schedule fun first, before work. These suggestions can help replenish who we are.
We need seven to nine hours of sleep nightly. If we can avoid a blaring alarm clock waking us up, all the better. Avoid electronics two hours before you sleep and taking the phone to bed.
Stop sitting. Get a standup or treadmill desk. Take micro breaks. Stand up and do stretching exercises or walk. Do stationary exercises. Do weight training to improve muscle strength.
5. Eat more healthful foods
Find a local market and frequent it. Find replacements, such as dried fruit and granola bars, for snacks that are high in sugar and fat. Avoid fast food and eating out. Cook healthy food at home. If you eat out, plan ahead to go somewhere that’s healthy. Request low-fat and low-salt options on the menu.
6. Drink more fluids
Our body is three-fourths fluids. The better hydrated we are, the better our skin looks and the better we feel. If you don’t like water, flavor it with powders.
7. Get your finances in order
Check on your retirement plan. Are you on track? Have emergency funds in case something catastrophic happens, such as losing a job or experiencing ill health. Cut costs if you can.
8. Maintain a healthy sex life
Yes, we may have had great sex at first, now we’re just roommates. Average is once or twice a month. Make it romantic. It’ll make you feel healthier and more relaxed. Orgasms decrease stress and help burn calories.
9. Confront vices
Alcohol, cigarettes and other potential addictions, such as shopping, playing video games or gambling, can create stress. But reversing this type of habit can have benefits. Quality of life can improve if you stop. Reach out to your doctor or people in your community for support.
Taking the time to meditate will help you understand your current state of mind. It also can give peace and guidance for the best path to take.
Dr. Riza Conroy is a primary physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. She rated in the top 10 percent of physicians in the nation for patient satisfaction in 2017.