The Midlife Health Checklist
There is no louder wake-up call than crossing the threshold into middle age. Turning 40, according to cancer specialist Dr David Agus, is when we become to question our mortality and take stock of our sedentary, desk-bound lives and rightly so given that in our 4th decade we put on weight more easily, get insufferable hangovers, take longer to get fit and recover from injury more slowly.
This is when we begin to listen to our bodies and avoid the things we know to be bad for us. All is not lost, thankfully, even if you have spent the past few years sitting on a sofa drinking wine. If we live more healthily and exercise regularly, we can enjoy a longer fuller life.
Life is against us, though, as we reach this mid-point. Our 40s are our most challenging decade to date. We are the “sandwich generation” juggling, parenting aging parents and our careers. All these cause stress and inflammations, which decrease the quality and length of our lives.
Diseases are often a problem in our 5th, 6th and 7th decades and we can do much to prevent it during our 40s.
While we cannot slow the aging process, if we develop the right attitude we can feel younger and more energetic. Now is the time to start caring for yourself.
• Drink full-fat milk particularly after exercise, as this can help combat the reduction in muscle mass associated with getting older.
• Avoid short cuts, supplements are not only expensive but they can have detrimental effects on your health if taken in excess. It’s simple, eat real food to stay healthier.
• Say no to shiny packets, artificial ingredients from sweeteners to the chemical preservatives in most processed food accelerate aging and lead to inflammation and cell death.
• Take probiotics (healthy bacteria) found in plain live yogurts can dramatically improve our levels of skin friendly flora, which in turn leads to smoother, clearer skin especially for those prone to adult acne or rosacea.
• Eat Mediterranean, swap red meat for fish, butter for olive oil, and go easy on carbs.
• It’s not fat that makes you fat, it is sugar!!
• You don’t have to give up booze entirely but it is sensible to have alcohol-free days as you age.
Sleep and mental health
• Relax! Midlife is a challenging time for the mind and it is essential to find ways to switch off. A long bath, reading a novel, gardening or yoga can soothe your mind.
• Get out, that means taking walks in nature, have a get together with family and friends.
• Stand up at your desk. If you stand for eight minutes for every half hour you are at work, and move around for at least 2 minutes, you can experience lower levels of blood sugar and cholesterol, reduced weight and improved concentration.
• Form habits. Our body thrives on regularity. Try to get up and go to bed at roughly the same time each day and eat at regular intervals for improved mental and physical health.
• Sleep cool, dark and quiet. You should invest in good quality bedding. It is essential to focus on getting quality sleep as it has a long-term impact on our physical and mental health as well as our weight and disorders associated with cardiac function and diabetes.
• Don’t smoke, and if you do, now is the time to give up.
• Brush and floss your teeth. Gum disease not only causes bad breath but it is linked to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
• See your doc and get your jabs. Treat aches, pains, and illness quickly to avoid them becoming chronic.
• Fitness. Walk everywhere, take the stairs, lift weight, do yoga and Pilates. Take up a new sport.