Nothing but a Number: Healthy Aging Part 1 (20s-40s)

Nothing but a Number: Healthy Aging Part 1 (20s-40s)

There is no question that healthy aging is becoming easier; in fact, Americans are living longer these days! People born in 2005 are projected to live nearly 78 years. So if we are living longer, enjoying good quality of life for longer is even more important. We can’t stop aging, but we do have some control over how we age.

While each decade is different, a few simple measures universally apply. Good nutrition and exercise, consistent skin care, and age-appropriate screenings and exams all contribute to healthy aging.

Your 20s
In your 20s you’re at your physical peak, so it may be tempting not to worry about your health much. But the 20s are the most important time to set up healthy habits to last a lifetime. Remember, you are really just starting out on your healthy aging journey, so getting in good shape for the future now is a must-do!

Calling All Calcium
By your late 20s or early 30s, your bone density has nearly reached its peak. Help increase and maintain your bone density by aiming for 1,000 micrograms of calcium per day. A cup of plain yogurt contains a little over 300 mg. And you can get it from calcium-rich dark, leafy greens. Weight-bearing exercise will also help to fortify your bones. And core training will help build your body's central, stabilizing powerhouse.

Get Around
Explore and find exercise activities that you enjoy doing, like kayaking and rock climbing or joining a running club or volleyball league. Finding something that you enjoy doing will help keep you motivated to stay active.

The Skin You’re In
You can help to prevent future wrinkles and sagging with healthy habits and a balanced diet. It’s also important to protect your skin form the sun. Whenever you head outdoors, wear a broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen and reapply it as needed. And don’t forget to protect your lips.

Let’s Talk About Safe Sex
Practice safe sex. Keep yourself protected from sexually transmitted infections (STI). Keep in mind that condoms cannot shield you from some STIs, such as the HPV, which may lead to cervical cancer. If you're sexually active, talk to your doctor about regular screenings for infections. And ask your doctor if the HPV vaccine is right for you.

Quitters Rule
Don’t smoke. If you are a smoker, get help to quit . Not smoking will reduce your risk for many serious health problems later on in life.

Your 30s
In your 30s, it may not be your physical health that changes as much as your priorities. Family planning and parenthood can lead to major lifestyle changes. Kids, work and home can be a lot to juggle, but don’t forget to take care of yourself.

Consistency Is the Name of the Game
Keep up your exercise routine to help reduce your risk of certain conditions. And exercise can also work as a stress reliever. Get your wellness exams and talk to your doctor about preventive screenings.

Your Mind Matters
Be mindful of mental health. This can be the busiest time of your life, with so many roles to play. You can be susceptible to stress and depression that may lead to unhealthy behaviors, like trying to cope with drugs or alcohol.

Your 40s
Your body undergoes plenty of changes in your 40s. There are the more noticeable ones — a few wrinkles, a shifting hairline. Others are less obvious, like hormone and metabolism changes.

As you age, you lose metabolism-revving muscle mass. As a result, your metabolic rate dips 2% - 8% each decade. Keep your metabolism high by strength-training twice a week. Building muscle helps you burn more calories throughout the day, even when you’re at rest .

Vitamin D
As women near menopause, levels of the hormone estrogen dip. This can lead to bone loss, which can make bones more likely to break. Vitamin D and calcium are two nutrients that keep bones strong. All adults in their 40s need 600 IUs of vitamin D and 1,000 micrograms of calcium daily.

Breast Cancer Screenings
The American Cancer Society recommends that all women receive their first mammogram at age 40. Other expert recommendations differ, so talk with your doctor about your risk factors.

Heart disease starts to show up in your 40s, so take special care now to treat your ticker well. One easy step: Eat fiber-rich foods like beans and oatmeal. Fiber helps lower your cholesterol levels, improving your heart health. Aim for 35 grams per day.

Tune in next month for 50-80! How do YOU plan to age gracefully?