Let’s face it: Many of us think that once we reach middle age, it’s all downhill from there. After all, it’s a time when the body starts to experience wear and tear, and when hormones begin to fluctuate and metabolism slows down. Because of this, obesity and metabolic syndromes can start to creep in, leading to disorders like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, increased LDL or “bad” cholesterol, and greater risks of breast and colon cancer. Women also begin experiencing symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and mood swings.
On top of these changes, working professionals will tend to ignore minor signs and symptoms, which can only get worse if ignored. A busy schedule can leave little time for healthy living. Cooking and mindful eating may be quickly replaced with fast food and on-the-go snacking. And physical activity may be compromised for more time at the office.
But middle age doesn’t have to be the end of feeling and looking good. With a little more focus on self-care, you may not only add years to your life, but make
- Wake up early. This means getting to bed early the previous night, of course. Aim for 8 solid hours of sleep.
- Do some light stretches upon waking. This will boost your metabolism and loosen up any stiff muscles.
- Start the day with a cup of warm water with lemon (add a touch of raw honey for a hint of sweetness).
- Get in a light workout at the gym or at a nearby park, or take a 45-minute walk.
- Stick to one cup of coffee per day.
- Get in a nutrient-dense, energy-boosting breakfast. Try a bowl of oats or grains like rice, quinoa, or millet soaked in nut milk, and topped with a serving of fruit, like a banana or apple.
- If your office is close to home, ditch the car and walk or cycle to work.
- While at work, take short breaks and quick walks. Even just a walk around the office or down the hall will help support circulation and
- Every 30 minutes at your desk, take a 5-minute break to move and stretch your neck, wrists, and back. You can even do some simple eye exercises to prevent eye strain, which could lead to vision problems later in life.
- Be prepared with a healthy snack for a mid-morning break — go for foods high in healthy fats and protein. Do not go on an empty stomach for too long — this can lead to a build-up of acid in the digestive system.
- Take some time out to do light breathing exercises. Pranayama can be done anywhere, anytime.
- Try to eat lunch around the same time everyday. Erratic eating schedules can be upset your digestive system.
- This is a good time to get your daily dose of natural calcium through foods like yogurt or lassi. Along with calcium, be sure to get plenty of Vitamin D — the best way is by soaking in the sun! — to prevent bone disorders like osteopenia and osteoporosis, which can often surface in middle age.
- Do not go back to your computer immediately after
- Avoid that temptation for another cup of coffee. Opt for a mug of green or herbal tea.
- Eat dinner at a fixed time, ideally 7 pm to 9 pm. Eat a balanced dinner that includes fresh vegetables, protein, healthy fats, and whole grains like quinoa or brown rice.
- Don’t go settling down in front of the TV quite yet. Take a quick walk after your dinner.
- Spend some quality time with friends or family, sans digital devices.
- Figure out what time you plan to wake up in the morning, and try to get to bed at least 8 hours before.
- Turn off the TV and shut down all of your electronics at least 30 minutes before going to bed.
- Take warm showers. Hot water can raise your blood pressure quickly and suddenly.
- Keep yourself hydrated. Aim for at least 6-8 glasses of water daily.
- Avoid long working hours. Schedule in time to unwind and relax your body and mind.
- Relax and decrease stress levels with some simple forms of meditation.
- Avoid stress and burnout by prioritizing your tasks and taking on only what you can reasonably do.
- Make some time each day to listen to music. Soft, instrumental tracks, in particular, can help relieve stress.
- Now, pick at least a few of these tips to try, and expand from there. See what works for you. A little extra self-care goes a long way. Middle age is not just about looking back at past achievements, but looking forward to a healthy, robust future.