Women’s Health Tips by the Decade

Every decade of a woman’s life is like a new chapter, filled with different challenges and expectations. To help you navigate the changing landscape of your body and mind, we put together these tips for every woman to help you stay happy and healthy through each decade.

In Your 20s

Your 20’s are a perfect time to lay the groundwork for a healthy and happy future, by developing habits now that you carry with you for the rest of your life:

  • Start exercising: As long as your doctor gives you the okay, get in the habit of being active whenever you can. Whether you’re going to the gym, walking the dog or playing in a kickball tournament, getting your mind and body used to moving regularly is essential in creating a good foundation for a healthy life in the future.
  • Eat healthy: Make it a habit to cook at home as much as possible. It gives you the opportunity to better control the ingredients and portion size than you get in takeout from a restaurant. Try meal prepping1 so you’re not tempted to eat unhealthily when you’re in a rush.
  • Establish a relationship with your healthcare provider: Now is the time to find the healthcare team that will be your go-to partners for advice and health needs for decades to come. They will help you identify your baseline healthcare measures,2 review your family medical history and other important elements for understanding your “normal”. They can then use that information to provide guidance and/or intervention for a healthier life.

In your 30s

It’s important to maintain a healthy work-life balance as your career gets into full swing. In many industries, your career is in growth mode and you are assuming new and more complex responsibilities. You may also be building a family, with both the joys and responsibilities. Easier said than done, but try to focus on what’s important and avoiding the unnecessary drama. Certain amount of stress is what gets us out of bed in the morning, but excessive levels make us less productive3 and impacts our overall attitude and mental health. Some things to help:

  • Get organized: You’ve got a million things to do, from meetings, to client calls, to family obligations and squeezing in a healthy lunch. It can get overwhelming and downright difficult to manage. Planning a week in advance is a great way to get through your days without too much stress. Google Calendar is a wonderful resource to use on-the-go and allows you to keep all the different streams of your life in one central resource - and color coded for family, work - and anything else you need to keep on top of.
  • Spend time outdoors: Time outdoors may reduce stress, improve your mood, increase your energy levels, and help you sleep better.4 It’s easier to do if it is regularly scheduled and becomes a habit: plan a weekly hike with friends, eat your lunch in a park near work or make it a family event to take a walk after dinner each evening.
  • Keep up your exercise regime: Heart disease is the number one killer of women5 in the U.S. Get in your favorite cardio workout and talk to your doctor about your risk factors.

In your 40s

By now you’ve settled into your career and earned some of those coveted projects and titles. Your children may be more self-sufficient - but your parents may now need your help. Your 40’s are all about making the most of every day, while keeping up the good health habits that you’ve already established. Some additional things to think about:

  • Sleep right: Try to get between seven and nine hours of sleep6 every night. It can help you deal with the competing interests for your attention and time - while helping you stay focused on what’s important. You may be starting to deal with the effects of menopause7 and your sleep changes can be a symptom. Making sure your bed is comfortable, the ambient temperature a little cool but not too cold, and turning off your smartphone and TV at least an hour before bedtime can help your body8 find its natural rhythm for restful, restorative sleep.
  • Talk it out: Everyone can get a little burned out or emotionally overtaxed. Don’t be afraid to spend an hour or two each week talking to a licensed mental health professional. Counseling can provide many benefits,9 from improving your communication skills to helping you manage stress and anxiety more effectively.
  • Love your skin: Avoid skin blemishes and damage from the sun by continuing to use sunscreen whenever outdoors, year-round. Utilizing great skin care products can help you to maintain your moisturized and healthy skin as you age.

In your 50s

You’re still going strong, but you’ve matured and found contentment and peace in your routine. You might be watching your kids graduate from high school and college, while potentially saying goodbye to Thanks to a lifetime of positive health and wellness choices, you’re planning for your next act with good habits. Some particular things to think about and discuss with your doctor:

  • Watch your bones: The risk of osteoporosis increases10 as you get older, and it’s important to start taking steps to maintain your bone density. Weighted exercise, appropriate vitamin D and calcium intake plus maintaining a healthy weight are some of the recommendations your healthcare provider may make.
  • Screen yourself: It’s important now more than ever to get regular screenings11 for cancer. Obtaining annual mammograms, skin checks and colonoscopies can be life-saving, as well as doing self-examinations12 and remaining vigilant. Your healthcare team are partners in helping you identify issues early, so keep up with your checkups.

Your 60s

The kids are adults and might even be giving you grandchildren. You may be actively planning for retirement - or your next act. Time with family and friends has gained extra value as you experience the loss of older friends and family members. These years are about making the most of your healthy lifestyle and potentially more free time. Some things to consider:

  • Try something new: If it’s okay with your doctor, try a new physical activity. Pick up squash, water aerobics or belly dancing! It’s never too late to reinvigorate your fitness routine with some fun new ideas that can be both good for your body and soul. And take a friend. You can laugh together as you learn.
  • Trust your gut Consult with a trusted healthcare professional about any changes you may experience with your digestive system. Keeping everything running smoothly throughout your entire body will make you feel happy and healthy moving forward. Appropriate amounts of fiber and fruit plus staying active to maintain a healthy weight are all good ways to keep your digestive system healthy.13

Your 70’s and beyond

As you move into your 70’s and later decades, you’ll want to stay active, mobile and healthy, to help keep your quality of life as high as possible. In addition to the lifetime of good habits to fall back on, you’ll want to

  • Keep your family in the loop: If you have any medications or require certain kinds of treatments in supporting your health, keep your family informed of specifics, including medications, dosages and the contact information for your healthcare provider(s). Then if you need assistance communicating this information in case of an emergency, they have the details necessary to get you the appropriate attention.
  • Make your home safer for your independent life: Reducing the risk of falls and avoiding a broken hip is important to maintaining your independence.14 One of the ways to help is to add safety elements in your bathroom and other areas of your home. A few well-placed grab bars for the shower, a reacher for those hard to reach items in the kitchen and maybe even a Smooth Walker cane (need link) to help keep you upright on the uneven ground of your garden can give you that stability and support you need to protect your independence.
  • Embrace the future and learn new things! Try a new hobby or a new restaurant. Travel to an exotic location or take that Italian class. Keep a positive, upbeat attitude and who knows what new horizons you’ll discover.

Sources:

1Parsons, R. (2015, September 22). Meal Prepping 101 for Beginners. Retrieved from http://www.mealprephaven.com/blog-1/2015/9/21/meal-prepping-101-for-beginners.

2Steakley, L. (2015, January 27). Why establishing a health baseline is a “critical starting point for achieving future health goals”. Scope. Retrieved from https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2015/01/27/why-establishing-a-health-baseline-is-a-critical-starting-point-for-achieving-future-health-goals/

3Mental Health America. Work Life Balance. Retrieved from https://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/work-life-balance

4Immerse Yourself in a Forest for Better Health. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/90720.html

5Centers for Disease Control. Women and Heart Disease Fact Sheet. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_women_heart.htm

6Robinson, L., Segal, R. M.A., Smith, M., M.A. (2018, October). Sleep Needs. Help Guide. Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/sleep-needs-get-the-sleep-you-need.htm/

7Conrad Stöppler, M., M.D.. Menopause. Medicinenet. Retrieved from https://www.medicinenet.com/menopause/article.htm

8Yeager, A. (2017, November 1). Evening screen time can sabotage sleep. Retrieved from https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/evening-screen-time-can-sabotage-sleep

9Hudson Valley Community College. (n.d.). Personal & Psychological Counseling. Retrieved from https://www.hvcc.edu/cct/counseling/benefits.html

10Mayo Clinic Staff. (2016, July 7). Osteoporosis. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoporosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351968

11Watson, S. (2018, September 19). Cancer Screening Tests Every Woman Should Get. WebMD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/cancer/features/cancer-screenings-women#1

12Breast Self-Exam. (2018, October 19). Retrieved from https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/self_exam

13Your Digestive System: 5 Ways to Support Gut Health. (n.d.). Johns Hopkins Medicine.   Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/your-digestive-system-5-ways-to-support-gut-health

14What Makes Hip Fractures So Dangerous for the Elderly. Crystal Run Healthcare. Retrieved from https://www.crystalrunhealthcare.com/articles/what-makes-hip-fractures-so-dangerous-elderly

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