Health Recommendations for Life’s Decades

Health Recommendations for Life’s Decades

No matter your age, maintaining good health should always be a priority. This September, for Healthy Aging Month, take time to understand the available resources, screenings and habits you can incorporate throughout each decade to give your health a boost in the right direction.   

20’s – 30’s: Your Foundation of Health 

When you are in your 20’s and 30’s, this is the time to set a strong foundation of healthy habits. If continued, the routine you begin now will be easier to follow in later years. Good practices include wearing sunscreen when outdoors and quitting or not starting to smoke. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also advise women at this stage to get 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. 

Additional recommendations include: 

  • Embrace exercise and make it a regular routine. According to the CDC, regular exercise can reduce your risk for developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and several cancers. It can also improve your quality of sleep and boost your brain’s health to maintain sharp thinking, learning and judgment skills as you mature in age. 

  • Eat healthy at home. Eating at home is a great way to limit fast and processed food. Why? Because you can control your ingredients. Eat clean by consuming fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains, as these foods will provide essential nutrients and enhance your body’s energy levels. 

  • Sleep seven or more hours each night. Sleepless nights have been linked with many chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression. Work on maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, and if you experience difficulty, talk with your doctor.  

  • Establish a relationship with your primary care physician. Early detection for illness is essential for good health. Make sure to stay up-to-date on screenings, vaccinations and annual check-ups and take time to learn your family’s medical history. This can provide your doctor with great insight toward your ongoing care. 

  • Important preventive care for women may include cervical cancer screening (pap smears every three years beginning at age 21) and the HPV vaccine (if not already received when younger). At this stage, be aware of your breast health by performing monthly, home self-breast exams.  

  • An important screening for men includes a testicular exam by a physician with regular home, self-exams. 

40’s & 50’s: Your Middle Stage of Life  

While considered midlife, your 40’s and 50’s should not be a time to stress about age. Embrace this time to continue many of the healthy habits and screenings from your 20’s and 30’s with a few additions. Consider adding weights to your workouts and eating foods rich in calcium and magnesium for better bones and sleep. If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation, in order to avoid serious health issues.  

Additional recommendations include: 

  • Relieve stress through healthy outlets. This phase in life can bring additional strain, especially if you are simultaneously caring for children and aging parents. Make time for yourself and find healthy ways to alleviate stress through yoga, spending time outside or listening to music. 

  • Schedule time with your physician. At this stage, continue to make time for annual exams and consider getting the shingles vaccine at age 50. 

  • Midlife screenings may include mammogram (annually for women beginning at age 40), lung cancer screening (55 and older), prostate cancer screening for men* and colon cancer screening.* 

*Depending on your level of risk, screenings for prostate cancer and colon cancer may begin at age 45. Consult with your doctor for personalized options. 

60’s & 70’s (and beyond): Your Golden Years  

By your 60’s, 70’s and later years, repeating healthy habits from earlier decades should remain a priority. Make sure to stay hydrated and add in strength training to your workouts to help combat the loss of muscle mass that happens with age. Stay connected with family and friends for socialization and consider challenging yourself to learn something new to keep your brain happy and healthy.   

Additional recommendations include: 

  • Focus on fiber and eat a heart-healthy diet. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for adults in the U.S. Take time to understand the risk factors and learn ways you can enhance your heart through diet and exercise.  

  • Keep your mind engaged. An active brain is a healthy brain, and some of the best ways to keep your mind young include reading, playing a board game, learning a new hobby or spending time with a puzzle.  

  • Schedule time with your physician. Maintain communication with your physician and always alert him or her to any changes in your health. Continue screenings outlined for your earlier years unless advised otherwise by your physician.  

  • Screenings to consider at this stage in life may include height and weight checks, fall prevention screening and bone density testing (for women age 65 and older).  

While many factors determine a person’s health, including family medical history, make a commitment to be the best version of yourself by staying connected with your physician and working in wellness throughout life’s decades.  

For more on healthy aging, visit https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/healthy-aging.htm.