Women are at increased risks for certain health issues as they age, but that risk can be minimized by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping the body, mind and spirit in optimal form.
There are many women who are well over 40, and even 60, 70 or 80, who have bucked the odds and managed to keep a svelte shape as well as a healthy body without resorting to plastic surgery (or other drastic measures), all through better lifestyle choices.
Here is a look at the top health risks for women over 40 and how they can best be avoided.
An Unhealthy Body Weight
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, over 60 percent of American women are overweight and one-third of these women are considered to be obese.
More women than men exclude healthy foods just to reach their perceived ideal number on the scale by severely restricting calories, which can cause a vicious cycle of losing weight only to regain it, while compromising long term health.
A diet filled with processed foods, unhealthy fats, sugars and toxins ultimately leads to excess fat and obesity as well as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and a host of other illnesses.
The safest way to combat this is to change habits, living a life characterized by a nutritious, easy-to-follow diet. Focus on as many whole, organic foods from the earth as possible, as well as healthy fats derived from foods like olive oil and coconut oil. Nuts and wild-caught salmon will also greatly decrease the risk of just about every disease known to man, or woman.
Many women in their 40s find themselves facing the responsibility of not only caring for children, but for their older parents. This leaves very little time for self, causing undue stress and resulting in a condition known as “caregiving stress syndrome.”
More than 70 percent of women who are in this position show signs of depression, and it is also linked to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, back pain, and many other illnesses.
Women who are caring for a parent or parents as well as children are twice as likely to manage their stress by smoking and 25 times more likely to binge drink and overeat. All of these strategies backfire by worsening the condition.
A woman must consider herself as the number one priority in her own life in order to better take care of her responsibilities as well as to improve overall health and longevity.
Women suffer from insomnia and inadequate sleep more often than men, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Without sufficient sleep, a woman’s risk for high blood pressure doubles in addition to an increased risk for obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Lack of Exercise
Women are less likely than men to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, yet exercise has been shown to be one of the most beneficial prescriptions for good health. Moving for at least a half an hour every day reduces the risk of depression and anxiety, obesity, cancer and osteoporosis.
Smoking and Drinking
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in middle age, and women who drink too much are at a greater risk for developing breast cancer, heart disease and alcohol-related issues including hepatitis and alcoholism, as compared to men.
Women should limit themselves to one drink per day – red wine is the best choice as it’s packed with healthy antioxidants.
Those who smoke should quit now rather than later. Quitting at any age will reduce your risk of additional heart damage in half after just one year while the risk for stroke, lung disease and cancer also drops significantly.