Hitting your 30s is a special milestone, an end to the adventurous youthfulness of the 20s and the start of a more practical you! It’s usually also a time things speed up on the personal and professional fronts. There’s also that niggling thought at the back of your mind about the biological clock and the changes that are on their way, health and body wise. The 30s are a turning point for men and women, with some differences. Here are some of the things you should keep an eye on.
Be wary of your lifestyle getting the better of you! The 30s is that period in which you tend to put on weight especially if you have a sedentary lifestyle and desk job. Also, starting in your 30s, the body’s ability to extract oxygen from your blood diminishes and fatty deposits on the arteries increases – reducing stamina and flexibility. Remember, weight gained in this period is rather hard to lose. Even with an active lifestyle, those pounds can just stubbornly sit there if your diet is unhealthy. In fact, the body consumes 12 calories less per day for each year after 30. Eating right – and making a habit of it – can go a long way in keeping away obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Exercise should also figure high on your list. The American Heart Association recommends setting yourself a goal of 30 minutes of exercise (a combination of vigorous and moderate activity) 5 times a week. You can even break this up into 10–15 minute segments through the day.1
For young moms, getting back to pre-pregnancy weight starts getting tougher. One study of the average weight gain caused by childbearing found that the risk of significant weight gain and of being overweight due to the birth of a child increased after the age of 25.2
Building Up Bones
Healthy bones make up the core strength of the body. Keeping tabs on them in your 30s will ensure better health and lowered risk of chronic ailments like osteoporosis later. Osteoporosis is a growing concern that affects over 10 million Americans, and age plays a part in the body’s nutrient requirement for good bone health. It influences the rate of bone loss, how the body absorbs nutrients, and how hormone levels affect the bones. From the 30s you lose more bone than you produce as they have reached their peak bone mass or maximum bone strength and density.3 While following the RDA of calcium is beneficial at any age, from your 30s it becomes imperative that the bone loss is balanced by eating a diet rich in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. Strengthening exercises like yoga and pilates are also recommended.4
Monitoring Vital Stats
The 30s can be stressful, with many significant events often taking place in this phase – career and personal aspirations start to soar, and a more demanding job, marriage, birth of a child, etc. may all be on the cards. These stressors can play havoc with blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Men especially are more prone to the effects of an improper diet and lack of exercise in the 30s, causing their cholesterol levels to shoot up and leading to obesity.5
Blood pressure ≥140/90 mm Hg is defined as hypertension, another common condition that makes an appearance in the 30s, setting the stage for an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Age combined with stressors can get to the best of us, so keep tabs on your blood pressure. Cut down on salt, processed food, and rein in the stressors with regular exercise, yoga, and deep breathing. Include cholesterol fighter foods like beans, legumes, spinach, avocados, spinach, green tea, almonds, walnuts, and flax seeds in your diet.6
The thyroid glands, an important player in hormonal health, tends to act up with age. Keep a close eye on the indicators of thyroid disorders – sudden weight loss or gain, excessive fatigue, hair loss etc., and menstrual irregularities for women. The American Thyroid Association recommends regular thyroid level checks as part of your routine health review from 35 years onward.7
Get all these numbers checked regularly even if your family history indicates otherwise. They’ll give you important pointers on how you need to modify your diet and lifestyle before these do serious harm.
Hormonal And Reproductive Health
For quite a while, early diagnosis of prostate cancer – that is, before the age of 40 – was thought to lead to a more aggressive onset of the disease. Subsequent studies now tell us that men who regularly check and have any prostate issues diagnosed in their 30s itself have better outcomes in the long run than older men.8
For women, the 30s is a crossover from the peak of your reproductive days. Young girls start off with over several hundred thousand egg cells, of which about 400 mature into eggs. By the time you hit your 30s, about half of them have been shed already. The reduction in the number of eggs can cause hormonal shifts, making it tougher to conceive and leading to menstrual cycle issues, cysts, and fibroids in the uterus, etc. Combined with the hectic and stressful lifestyle of the 20s, PCOS is a common outcome for many women. Whether or not you’ve had a child, some checkups now become very important – a pap smear to check for cervical cancer; a pelvic exam to assess the overall health of the uterus; and a breast exam (even a self-exam) to rule out any lumps or malignant tumors.
Young Skin No More
Our skin is one of the first things to indicate that time’s ticking away! We can expect more frown lines and wrinkles and a bit of sagging. Turns out the 30s are a turning point for that. An interesting Japanese study found that our skin’s wrinkling rate shoots up suddenly in the early 30s. This was reflected in the wrinkling morphologies of young and old skins – it suddenly changes from inducing shallow fine furrows (stratum corner wrinkling) to deep prominent wrinkles (epidermis wrinkling).9 Clearly, a phase where we need to look in the mirror more to make sure we are treating our skin well – hydrated and infused with antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E to repair the damage done by aging, the sun, and stress.
So 30s are that crossover age when pretty much everything – weight, fitness, diet, skin, etc. – needs more attention. But it’s also the right time to nip a health disorder in the bud and put a healthier game plan in place so you can deal with the aging process smoothly.
|↑1||American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults, American Heart Association.|
|↑2||Williamson, David F., Jennifer Madans, Elsie Pamuk, Katherine M. Flegal, Juliette S. Kendrick, and Mary K. Serdula. “A prospective study of childbearing and 10-year weight gain in US white women 25 to 45 years of age.” International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders: journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity 18, no. 8 (1994): 561-569.|
|↑3||Benjamin, Regina M. “Bone health: preventing osteoporosis.” Public Health Reports 125, no. 3 (2010): 368.|
|↑4||Miller, G. D., S. M. Groziak, and D. DiRienzo. “Age considerations in nutrient needs for bone health.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 15, no. 6 (1996): 553-555.|
|↑5||Kim, Jeong Hyun, Kyu Ho Jung, Jae Bum Cho, Sang Chul Roh, Hea Sun Lee, Kyung Chae Kim, No Won Park, and Won Keun Lee. “Correlation Between Total Cholesterol and Body Mass Index, Waist-Hip Ratio of Flight Attendants.” Korean Journal of Aerospace and Environmental Medicine 12, no. 3 (2002): 146-150.|
|↑6||Ong, Kwok Leung, Bernard MY Cheung, Yu Bun Man, Chu Pak Lau, and Karen SL Lam. “Prevalence, awareness, treatment, and control of hypertension among United States adults 1999–2004.” Hypertension 49, no. 1 (2007): 69-75.|
|↑7||Ladenson, Paul W., Peter A. Singer, Kenneth B. Ain, Nandalal Bagchi, S. Thomas Bigos, Elliot G. Levy, Steven A. Smith, and Gilbert H. Daniels. “American Thyroid Association guidelines for detection of thyroid dysfunction.” Archives of internal medicine 160, no. 11 (2000): 1573-1575.|
|↑8||Tuma, Rabiya S. “Prostate cancer: prognosis is good for men in their 30s.” Oncology Times UK 5, no. 5 (2008): 15.|
|↑9||Kuwazuru, Osamu, Kukizo Miyamoto, Nobuhiro Yoshikawa, and Shuhei Imayama. “Skin wrinkling morphology changes suddenly in the early 30s.” Skin Research and Technology 18, no. 4 (2012): 495-503.|