Popular culture is cruel to lots of things. Crocs. Justin Bieber (although the jury’s still out on that one). People who happen to cough in public places ever since the pandemic came along. And of course, turning 40! The jokes, the memes, the countless “turning 40” episodes for countless characters in countless series and in countless movies. Well, the hate campaign is moot unnecessary because, most likely, you’ll feel the same when you wake up on your fortieth birthday as you have for the decades worth of birthdays past. In fact you probably have more money, more power and more confidence than you ever have had before.
That actually opens the door to two points that we need to establish:
One: Although you might feel the same, it is now time to start putting a little effort into preserving that feeling, or in other words – you need to actually be mindful and take actions to preserve your good health, that will in turn, help you preserve your career and your power and your fitness and your confidence and whatever else has you feeling good about yourself.
Two: Celebrate the independence and confidence that comes with being halfway across this journey called life: this actually brings us to our first in the list of…
10 Things To Do For Staying Healthy After 40
1. Prioritize your mental health
Maintain a positive outlook and keep stress under control. This is more important now than it has ever been for you before because cortisol – the stress hormone – is a stealthy killer that has been linked to a whole lot of diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
Having trouble coping with stress? See a mental health professional. Hopefully your immediate environment has caught up with the global outlook and does not stigmatise therapy and counseling. However even if your environment is backward, unconducive and unfriendly towards mental healthcare, prioritise your own needs and keep your practices private if you feel compelled to do so.
2. Keep your eye on your sleep schedule
Don’t push your body to party till 6AM like you did in your teens and twenties (and perhaps even managed in your thirties). Avoid burning the midnight oil as a regular lifestyle choice.
Of course, emergencies and the night before a huge presentation, a night spent on a long haul flight and the occasional festive night out are part of life. But there’s a difference between these being the exception and becoming a norm. Insufficient sleep puts you at risk for heart disease, diabetes and a whole host of other diseases. It also reduces your immunity and limits your ability to function.
Your metabolism drops substantially by the time you are 40 years old and free gifts of the forties like belly and chest fat make us sitting ducks for heart attacks. Additionally, we want to retain muscles and strength for as long as possible and exercise makes this possible. It also contributes to staying sharper in the decades to come, helps regulate sleep, and reduces stress. And of course, exercise can help us maintain a toned and attractive – maybe even youthful – appearance for a longer period and this can contribute positively to a healthy sex life and brimming confidence levels.
4. Understand your family health history and your risks
Check the diseases that your parents and grandparents had to know what you are at high risk for. Make lifestyle changes accordingly.
5. Annual checkups
After 40 it is a good idea to check for diabetes, hypertension and heart disease once a year (or more if you show symptoms). Women must undergo regular gynecological check ups and men must undergo regular testicular examinations.
6. Eat right
Manage your consumption of added sugar, high sodium foods, deep fried foods and junk food. Invest time (or pay someone to make arrangements) in enjoying a balanced diet of foods that appeal to your taste buds. It only takes a little research. It is possible to eat healthy and still be happy.
Countless corporate employees complain of “forgetting” to drink water. Set a reminder and ensure you are sufficiently hydrated, all day, every day.
8. Vice control
Consider kicking the butt and saying goodbye to any drug and alcohol abuse to preserve your good health. You certainly can’t blame peer pressure anymore! Avoid consuming alcohol more than once a week and when you do drink, try not to put your liver through hell.
9. Maintain a healthy sex life
A healthy sex life is seen as integral in maintaining happiness and a better quality of life, a stronger bond with one’s partner and higher confidence levels. It also keeps stress levels low and encourages improved fitness.
10. Plan for immediate and future healthcare
Are we talking money here? Are you objecting because you were promised a healthcare article? Well you got your 9 points above and to be fair – it takes vitamin M to care for your health in the long run (and even in the short term! Exhibit A: The last 18 months of pandemic and the incredible hospital bills some have had to pay).
Always invest in health insurance so that any emergencies in the short term can be dealt with promptly and without driving your cortisol levels through the roof.
Also invest wisely and plan for your retirement and healthcare in the long term. If you are dreading certain diseases that have existed in your family tree previously, the smart thing to do is to prepare financially so that you can get the best treatment – no matter how expensive – should your worst fears come to life. You don’t want to be stressing about it and increasing your chances of various diseases (and possibly the very ones you fear) because of your high stress levels. Don’t take a ride in that vicious cycle – simply prepare financially instead.
Similarly, invest so that your capital multiplies in order for you to be able to afford the cost of health care, which will have risen exponentially by the time you retire. You need your capital to grow just as exponentially to keep up with inflation and rising costs.