The health habits of 40-year-olds are not up to scratch according to recent research. A third of people turning 40 admit they weren’t aware how crucial this decade is for their future health.
Although it might feel like there’s plenty of time to adopt healthier habits ‘later’, it’s in their 40s that most people start to feel the effects of ageing. In recent research carried out by AXA PPP healthcare, even of those who had just turned 40, two-fifths admitted that they struggle to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. They find themselves tiring more easily, or being forgetful.
A third also admit they suffer from more aches and pains compared to when they were in their 30s.
Making changes to your lifestyle can be overwhelming, but it’s important to start sooner rather than later to avoid the risk of accumulating health problems for the future.
Weight is of significant influence when it comes to future health, and one that becomes more difficult to manage once the 40s hit. Being overweight can increase the chance of experiencing health issues like diabetes, heart disease and cancers in later life.
Despite this, only two in five are prioritising healthy eating, and even less people are trying to do more exercise. It appears to be harder for women to shift the extra pounds than men, with nearly half of women struggling to lose weight, as opposed to just over a quarter of men. This doesn’t mean it’s not important for everyone to address though.
Other lifestyle factors, such as alcohol intake and smoking, also increase the likelihood of disease. While alcohol in moderation is okay, drinking it daily adds excess calories and can also put a strain on the liver. Worryingly, only 15 per cent of 40 year olds are thinking about drinking and smoking less!
Taking care of your mental health is also important to maintain wellbeing. Women are the most likely to take this step, with 20 per cent pledging to make more time for themselves. Only 13 per cent of men made the same commitment.
Your mental health has a huge impact on your physical health, affecting hormone balances. For example, stress can cause excess cortisol, which affects blood sugar levels, causes weight gain, and suppresses the immune system.
Think of your 40th birthday as a chance to press the reset button and give yourself a clean slate. Here are some top tips from Chris Tomkin, Head of Proactive Health at AXA PPP healthcare for turning 40:
1. Count your steps
Get a pedometer and try to clock up 10,000 steps every day or 150 minutes of moderate activity over the week. It might seem hard at first, but taking the stairs and going for a quick walk at lunchtime will help you get there. The benefits include burning up to 400 calories a day and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers.
Swap out a sweet treat for raw fruit or veg. It’s a simple move that goes some way toward decreasing the chances of the illnesses we’re exposed to later in life.
Take a classic shepherd’s pie and balance the meat content by swapping half of it for onions, celery, carrots and perhaps some lentils. You’ll be surprised how much flavour they add.
Military Fitness and Circuits are all growing in popularity as people find these varied workouts more motivating.
Like a triathlon, a wild swimming race or the assault course races that are growing in number. You don’t have to be a winning athlete – it’s all about having fun and bettering your health!