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Health Mistakes No Woman Over 40 Should Make, Experts Warn

10 bad health habits to break now, experts say. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

We all live busy lives juggling careers, school, family and friends, but taking care of ourselves should be the top priority because without good health, we won't have very productive lives. After 40 our bodies start to change–we lose muscle mass, our metabolism slows down and making bad health choices can have long-term consequences. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with experts who share the bad habits to stop now and why. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Yo-Yo Dieting

weight gain

Rachel Fine, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with To The Pointe Nutrition shares, "The major effect we see with yo-yo dieting is the impact on psychological and physical well being. Physiologically, with any caloric restriction, whether it's masked as 'intermittent fasting,' 'keto,' 'paleo,' 'Whole30,' etc… the body learns to adapt to the self-imposed state of famine. In doing so, the body's metabolic rate lowers in efforts to conserve energy for vital processes like breathing and blood circulation. The hormonal imbalances that ensue further result in a vast number of negative impacts including impaired bone health. Women over 40 are even more at risk for low bone density with age, and partaking in restrictive dieting habits can exacerbate this. Yo-yo dieting also can result in sharp decreases in the body's fat stores, which further results in hormonal deficiencies that control appetite, such as leptin. As a result, we often see yo-yo dieters chronically hungry and generally out-of-tune with their intuitive feelings of hunger and fullness."


Not Doing Meditation

woman relaxes while doing yoga by the water

Dr. Michael May, Medical Director and Principal Surgeon at Wimpole Clinic says, "Women in their 40s tend to have a lot on their plate between juggling careers, family, friends, etc. These things can lead to high levels of stress, which can be detrimental to their health. Regular meditation, such as daily breathing exercises or attending yoga classes with friends, can help with mental health and improve sleep patterns. As a result, they will have the energy to face the upcoming day. Moreover, some yoga positions, particularly the inversion poses, can also benefit your hair health by boosting blood circulation to the head and scalp."


Sitting Too Much

Woman sitting on bed looking at phone bored and in a bad mood

Meera Watts, the founder of Siddhi Yoga explains, "People, especially as they get older, tend to overlook the value of physical mobility in our daily lives. Sitting on your bed or desk all day introduces you to plenty of health risks, and you'll lose muscle mass 10 times faster. It is critical for women over 40 to incorporate some form of light exercise into their daily regimen. Yoga is one of the best activities for moving your entire body and providing major health benefits in just 10 minutes of doing it every day."


Not Drinking Enough Water

Close-up of pretty young woman drinking water from glass

Anne Poirier, a Body Image Expert, Non-diet Coach and author of The Body Joyful reminds us, "Water is essential to keep our body healthy.  Not only does it keep your organs working efficiently, it keeps your skin looking healthy and increases your immune system. As we get older, our sense of thirst actually begins to change, and we don't realize that we are not drinking enough.  There are also some medications that can impact our hydration, like laxatives and diuretics."


Not Doing Enough Strength Training

woman sitting in gym with weight and water bottle

Poirier says, "Resistance training helps to offset loss of skeletal muscle(which is important for mobility and quality of life.  Strength training will increase your ability to do the things you want with your body as you age. It can also help increase bone density, independence and vitality. (All important for quality of life)."


Not Taking Care of Your Mental Health

Thoughtful girl sitting on sill embracing knees looking at window, sad depressed teenager spending time alone at home, young upset pensive woman feeling lonely or frustrated thinking about problems

Lindsay Tullis, CHC, Health Coach at Mighty Health shares, "According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 5 adults over 55 experience some sort of mental health issue. Risk factors for mental health issues rise as we age due to chronic pain, decreased mobility, loss of loved ones, loss of independence, and other major life events. Women over 40 have often spent so much of their lives taking care of others that they've forgotten to carve out time to take care of themselves. Taking care of our mental health as we age is just as important as physical health."


Neglecting Annual and Routine Health Screenings

patient speaking with doctor

Tullis says, "As we age, our risk for certain diseases and cancers increases. That's why it's important to be as preventative as possible. The earlier things are caught, the better managed they can be into the aging years. Important health screenings include breast cancer, thyroid, colonoscopy, bone density, blood sugar, and blood pressure."

Aleksandr Shteynberg, MD, a double board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in breast and body procedures adds, "The first study on Pap smear testing was presented in 1923 and yet, 99 years later patients are still ignoring the importance of early detection. In addition, I know that mammograms are uncomfortable and colonoscopies are a pain, but these are vital, lifesaving tests. We have the technology, but it is still up to the patient to utilize it. Depending on your family history, cancer screenings should be done for the following in women over 40:

Breast Cancer – Mammograms

Cervical Cancer – Annual Pap screenings

Colorectal Cancer – Colonoscopy – for women over 45

Lung Cancer – CT Scan (*smokers)




Tullis states, "As we age, our metabolism naturally slows and our body burns less calories than it once did. We spend a lot more of our lives sitting. Women over 40 should focus on protein, as it's an essential building block for muscle, as well as nutrient-dense, satiating foods that contain healthy fats like nuts, seeds, oils and avocados, as well as fruits and vegetables."


Drinking Too Much Alcohol

Sad woman drinking wine at kitchen.

Tullis reminds us, "While the occasional drink won't cause much harm, frequent alcohol intake can increase risk for certain cancers and diseases. As women age, our bodies also change the way and frequency at which alcohol is metabolized. If you're concerned about your alcohol intake, reach out to your physician."


Not Wearing Sunscreen

woman applying sunscreen lotion standing outdoors at the urban location during the sunny weather

Dr. Nicholas Jones, MD, FACS Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon states, "We all know the sun beats up the skin.  Those ultraviolet rays are bad for us.  If you want to minimize the effects of the sun, wear sunscreen.  Regardless of how light or dark your skin is, the sun causes premature aging.  So before you leave the house, get you some sunscreen and make sure you apply sunscreen to your face, necks, and hands."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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