7 ways to maximize your health in your 30s
Balancing work, family and friends are still a priority in our 30s, just like they were in our 20s. However, in this decade there is a new sense of immediacy. If you haven't hit certain milestones like marriage, children, or that corner office at work, you are probably starting to hear that internal clock ticking. And if you have reached those milestones, you might not being feeling as invincible as you did in your 20s.
Now, your body starts to slowly show signs of aging. Freaked out over that first grey hair or hint of a laugh line? Can't scarf down a whole pizza and still slip into your skinny jeans? Welcome to your 30s.
To help you navigate this new decade, we asked local health experts to share their wisdom for living healthier in your 30s:
"With work, kids, finances, sleep and social life competing for the precious minutes in your day, food and exercise often fall by the wayside," said Jessica Fritton, a registered dietitian at Family Food, LLC.
This leads to skipping meals, relying on takeout and inevitably gaining weight.
"Treat your food choices as you do other parts of your life (i.e. meetings, daycare pickup, paying bills) and build it into your schedule," Fritton said. "Set aside one day a week to go food shopping, and five minutes every morning to map out your day with respect to food."
While your planner is still open, also make sure to include your exercise plan in order to help you stick with it.
"Make 'appointments' to work out, whether that means getting them done first thing before the day starts, or making time during the day to work out," Abbie Chowansky, co-owner of Focus Fitness, said.
Chowansky's husband and co-owner Mike recommends you compliment your workout routine 20-30 minutes of yoga daily.
"This will keep your heart rate up, sweat out some toxins, and start building some strength," Mike said. "You can increase as you move forward and your body will tell you when to do so."
Learn how to better cope with stress
According to Kimberly Dasch-Yee, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Holy Family University, stress not only affects our mental health, but our physical health as well.
"Stress increases the risk of a variety of diseases, in particular hypertension and coronary heart disease," Dasch-Yee said.
While these risk factors are not unique to the 30something set, the risk for these diseases increases during that time.
"The mistake that many of us make is assuming more of our stressors are uncontrollable than they really are," Dasch-Yee said. "Common stressors for people in their 30's, like being unhappy in their job, or dissatisfied with their relationships, often are at least somewhat controllable."
Stressors that are controllable, like a big project at work, can be alleviated by problem-focused coping that tries to tackle the problem itself.
"For example, when overwhelmed with work, it can be more helpful to cope by planning and breaking the work into smaller manageable chunks," Dasch-Yee said.
For stressors that are out of your control, such as a poor health diagnosis, coping with meditation or self-distraction (watching funny TV shows or movies) is more effective.
For the Chowanskys, the recipe for less stress is simple: Take time for you.
"Do something that helps you unwind," said Mike. "Be selfish. It's okay."
For Mike, something as simple as breathing techniques or laughter can go a long way.
"Laugh as much as you can. It's a great way to relieve stress," he said.
Eat more plant-based foods
We start to see dreaded signs of aging in our 30s - wrinkles, sunspots, and even worse, high cholesterol, and early signs of heart disease or diabetes.
"Plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans are rich in antioxidants that can slow the aging process," Fritton said. "And also reduce oxidative damage in the body and potentially prevent cancer and other chronic disease."
Try taking part in Meatless Monday, a weekly plant-based dinner or aiming for half of your plate to be vegetables at dinner.
Support your bones
"For healthy individuals, bone mass peaks at around age 35, after which, bone loss begins to occur," explained Jennifer Laurence, a registered dietitian at Family Food, LLC.
That means those who failed to achieve optimal bone mass in their 30s are at a higher risk for osteoporosis.
"Be sure to achieve the recommended intake of Calcium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K to support your bones, which can be found in foods such as dark leafy greens, sesame seeds, fish, eggs, and dairy products," Laurence said. "Also include weight-bearing exercise, which can slow or reverse bone loss."
Mind your metabolism
Did you know your metabolism begins to slow down in your 30s?
"We'll burn about 100 to 200 fewer calories each day," Fritton said. "Unless you want to gain weight, you'll have to eat a little less than you did in your 20s."
An easy way to decrease your caloric intake is by cutting back on sugary beverages or snacks.
"One glass of wine, a can of soda or beer has about 100 to 200 calories so cutting this out is a great place to start," Fritton added.
Eat more fermented foods
"As we get older, our stomachs often become more sensitive," said Natalie Zaparzynski, registered dietitian at Family Food, LLC.
Foods like sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, kombucha, and kefir are high in probiotics, which helps maintain the good bacteria in the gut.
"This can help aid in digestion as well as prevent some illnesses associated with bacteria overgrowth," Zaparzynski said.
She also suggested that when you're shopping for pickles and sauerkraut, opt for refrigerated varieties. Shelf stable products have been heat-treated which kills that good bacteria we want and need.
Get a yearly checkup
As adults, many of us don't take time to see the doctor unless we are feeling ill, but getting a yearly checkup is just as important for adults as it is for kids.
According to Theresa Birardi, D.O., a member of Crozer-Keystone's Family Physicians, routine examinations and screenings can help improve early detection and prevention of diseases.
"Skin cancer is the number one cancer diagnosed every year, but many people don't think to have themselves checked," Birardi said.
For women, that also means getting a pap test for cervical cancer. Women between the ages of 30 and 65 with a low risk, can go up to five years between tests.
Many adults don't keep up with their vaccines either, Birardi said. tdAP — a combination vaccine to protect against tetanus, ditheria, and whooping cough — is recommended every 10 years at maximum and there are pneumococcal vaccines for smokers and patients with asthma. The whooping cough vaccine also should be kept up to date.
Knowing your family history is crucial. "Many people are not aware that significant problems could show up in your 30s and 40s like breast cancer, familial hypercholesterolemia or diabetes," Birardi said.
This is the second installment in series on healthy living tips for every age group. Have a suggestion? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.