Fit & Fabulous Over 40: Health Tips for Women

Youth and Beauty – it’s always been assumed that the two go hand-in-hand. The sweet bird of youth stays for a brief summer but before long, it has flown away and its loss is lamented forever.

Humans value youth above all else. Society assumes that as youth passes, beauty fades away as well. Women, in particular, are judged quite harshly for being over a certain age. That’s why more money has been spent on the vain search for the fountain of eternal youth than on anything else. While life expectancy has improved over time, it is still assumed that beyond a certain age, human health will inevitably decline.

But this need not be the case. There is tonnes of research that shows that the old assumption – advanced age equals decrepitude – can easily be proven wrong with a proper nutrition and training program.

Let’s look at some important tips on staying fit and healthy over the age of 40:

 

  • Weight Training

It’s not a matter of debate anymore that women need to lift weights. Endless cardio and pink dumbbells may keep you thin but they won’t make you fit.

Age-related Muscle Loss or Sarcopenia is a major problem for women over 50. However, the damage could start soon after 30 especially if one has an inactive lifestyle. Women who lead sedentary lives could lose as much as 3 to 5% muscle loss per decade which will only worsen with age.

Some form of Resistance Training is needed if women want to hold on to their curves and strength. Weight training is by far the best form of training. And no, women don’t need to worry about looking like The Rock – your body simply doesn’t produce the amount of testosterone needed to gain that much muscle.

If you can’t or don’t want to go to gym, you can still work up a sweat with Resistance Bands and Bodyweight Exercises right in the comfort of your homes.

What Works: Lifting Heavy, Some Other Form Of Resistance Training

What doesn’t work: Endless Cardio, Light Weights, Bollywood Dance

 

 

  • Protein

Proteins have rightly been called the building blocks of our body. Without adequate amounts of this macronutrient (the others being Carbohydrates and Healthy Fats), the human body will break down and waste away.

There are far too many myths and horror stories about how too much protein can cause everything from weight gain to kidney failure. But how much is too much?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is pretty low: just 0.8 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight. Take a minute and calculate how much that means for you.

The RDA is the minimum amount of protein your body needs as below this level, your body faces imminent shutdown. If you’re surprised to find that you’re barely making the mark, trust me, you aren’t alone.

If you’re physically active, then your body needs more protein. Depending on the level of activity and intensity, you could need anywhere from 1 to 2 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight.

But will protein make you gain weight? Not if you eat at a caloric deficit or at maintenance. To know this, you need to take into account everything that you eat and drink, not just protein.

So don’t believe the scaremongers – protein is an essential tool in your anti-aging arsenal!

 

  • Vitamin D

Women often complain that they feel weak, no matter how rested they are. They’re plagued with aches and pains and feel a general listlessness and lack of vigour. Their hair’s falling out and they feel gloomy.

It isn’t okay to feel this way and often, the culprit is low Vitamin D levels.

There are two forms of the “Sunshine Vitamin”:

  • Vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol – found in plant foods, supplements or fortified foods
  • Vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol – found in animal foods, supplements/fortified foods and produced by our bodies when it comes into contact with sunlight

Vitamin D deficiencies are commoner than you’d think. Even though we live in a sub-tropical country, we spend most of our time indoors. Vegetarians are also at a greater risk of developing a deficiency on account of their dietary restrictions.

Long-term effects of a deficiency are increased risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, auto-immune disease, certain forms of cancer, to name but a few.

The only definitive way to know if you’re deficient is by taking a lab test. Do not self medicate; consult a physician or nutrition consultant who’d be able to guide you.

 

  • More Sleep, Less Stress

In a world filled with distractions and brightly lit screens (TV/smartphones/iPads), how does one manage to get more than 5-6 hours of quality sleep a night?

Well, you better find a way if you want to remain healthy over 40. Late nights and early mornings may have been fine when you were younger but as you age, they start taking a toll on your health and appearance that even heavy make-up won’t be able to hide.

You may workout, you may be eating right but if you’re not getting adequate amounts of sleep, you’re setting yourself up for illness.

Aim for 7-8 hours of quality restful sleep every night.

Other ways to get more sleep and reduce stress:

  • Avoid watching TV or using your smartphone an hour before bedtime
  • Keep your smartphone on silent and away from you when you go to bed. Turn off notifications so you’re not disturbed while sleeping
  • Avoid caffeine after 4 pm
  • Make sure the bedroom is neither too cold nor too hot
  • Meditate
  • Keep a Daily Gratitude Journal. Every night before sleeping, write out 5 things that you are thankful for or 5 things that went well that day. People who follow this practice tend to feel less stressed out and get better sleep

Just because you’re a woman over 40 does not mean your life is over and you should now spend your time in anticipation of meeting the Grim Reaper. By following a few easy steps and taking care of your health, the quality of your life will not only improve but may well be better than it was in your 20s.  

 

Author Credits –  Jaideep Bhide