The 40th birthday is a milestone birthday marking the halfway point of our lives. As the saying goes “40 is the old age of youth,” yet no one is saying that everyone who turns 40 is automatically over the hill – far from it! But it is an important decade that can make or break your health depending on how you take care of yourself.
How to stay fit in your 40s
If your 20’s and 30’s blew past like a strong whirlwind of activity, just wait until the 40’s. This decade becomes more complicated bringing with it growing children, aging parents, and added work responsibilities, which boils down to less time to be more physically active and paying attention to what we eat. Yet, this decade is critically important for preventing future health problems such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and many types of cancer. If you haven’t been taking the best of care of yourself until this decade, now is the time to start.
The two main ways of keeping fit after 40 is through diet and exercise. Neglecting either one during this decade is a mistake that will come back to haunt you in terms of excess weight gain, loss of muscle mass, reduced energy, and the development of chronic health issues.
Here are tips on eating well during this decade:
- Maintain a regular, consistent schedule of 3 meals a day with 2-3 snacks.
- Do not make it a habit of skipping meals – it slows down metabolism
- Make 90% of your food choices as nutritious as possible – lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, lean meat and low fat dairy.
- Avoid foods composed of white flour and white sugar – these add no nutritional value and can contribute to weigh gain
- Reduce salt intake to avoid water retention and increasing high blood pressure– greatly limit processed foods such as boxed or canned items, processed meats such as sausage, bacon, and bologna.
- Choose water as your main beverage and strictly limit sweetened beverages.
- Recognize emotional or mindless eating – stress can result in eating when not really hungry which only contributes to weight gain.
- Snack smartly by choosing nuts in moderation, veggies, hummus, hard-boiled eggs, berries, apple slices with peanut butter, or a smoothie made of a frozen banana, Greek yogurt or cottage cheese
Exercise tips to stay fit during this decade:
- Make exercise a daily priority and keep it consistent.
- Carve out time throughout the day to achieve the recommended weekly 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise. This means at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week of physical activity.
- Find physical activities you enjoy – vary your exercise routine to avoid doing the same thing over and over. This helps to work different muscle groups providing a more well-rounded exercise routine.
- Strength training or lifting weights is a must for both men and women. As we age we will gradually muscle mass unless we are actively lifting weights to maintain or slow the loss.
- Always include aerobic exercise – brisk walking, jogging, running, bicycling, swimming, tennis, anything that elevates the heart rate to boost metabolism and burn more calories.
Avoid any comparisons of yourself when you were younger
Making comparisons of how we used to be at ages 20 or 30 is easy to do. But, as we age, bodily changes will happen. Our hormone levels change, and our physical performance may decline, a normal part of aging.
However, it’s important not to compare our current abilities to our past achievements. Focusing on our past successes can be unproductive and discouraging.
Instead, we should learn to appreciate and accept our bodies at every stage of life. It’s recommended to set new goals that are less focused on beating personal records and more focused on enjoying the process. For example, instead of trying to beat a previous 5K time, you could try a new type of race or distance. It’s essential to learn to love and appreciate our bodies for all they have done for us throughout the years and to focus on our current abilities rather than comparing ourselves to a younger version of ourselves.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.