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Over 40? Stop Doing These Things Immediately, Say Experts

You’re not the age you used to be.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek
A woman raids the refrigerator late at night looking for a food snack.

Over 40? Stop doing these things immediately, say experts—even though we know you won't want to. Aging naturally comes with compromise. And no one wants to feel limited. However, being realistic about aging can help you embrace it, and maximize your health so you can in fact feel young, even if you are not. "Becoming acutely aware of your own physical and emotional feelings is something" many people neglect to do, says Dr. Martin Miner, Regional Medical Director of Vault Medical Services, "and it has a negative impact on their health as they age. Take command of your feelings and life, and learn to take actions that steer the ship the way you want to go." With that in mind, we've collected 7 essential pieces of advice anyone after 40 should follow. Stop doing these things immediately—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Had COVID And Should Tell Your Doctor.

1

Don't Neglect Your Vitamin D Levels—or Your Iron, Riboflavin and More

Natural sources of vitamin D and Calcium
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"Vitamin deficiencies can be an issue at any age, particularly with the common American diet," says the Burgess Health Center. "However, as women age, vitamin deficiencies become even more common and can be the cause of many symptoms and conditions. Vitamin D deficiency is particularly prevalent and can contribute to increased bone-mass loss (over the age of 40, this happens to women naturally, but a deficiency in vitamin D accelerates the problem) and osteoporosis. Low vitamin D has also been linked to depression and seasonal affective disorder. Other potential deficiencies include iron, riboflavin, and vitamin B."

2

Stop Eating Right Before Bedtime—It Makes You Gain Weight Too Fast

A woman in her 40s wearing headphones and eating popcorn while watching a movie on a streaming service on a laptop at night.
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You used to be able to down an entire pizza or pint of Ben & Jerry's while binging a Netflix marathon, or maybe have a few beers at the bar till midnight, but now…you can't. Or at least, you shouldn't. "Eating before bed can cause the body's metabolism to slow," say the experts at Amerisleep. "The body slows down its functions at night to prepare for sleep, but consuming foods, especially those high in carbs, can make it harder to digest and result in weight gain." It's already harder to lose weight after 40; don't make it more so.

3

Stop Obsessing Over Your Hair Loss. Accept it Or Do Something About It.

man with hair loss problem indoors
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A receding hairline, baldness or thinning hair are a natural part of aging for men and women, as ordinary as your hair going grey. Rather than waste years fretting over how badly you look as a result, do one of two things: 1) Accept it. You don't look like you used to. And that's OK. 2) A far more expensive option is to try hair growth products, some of which actually do work. Look for products with minoxidil—shown to grow hair faster in women—like in Rogaine.

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4

Pump Iron, and Eat Iron

Female athlete with protective face mask doing plank exercise with hand weights in a gym.
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"At this time of life many people take their good health for granted and healthy eating and exercise are often put on the back burner," says the BBC. "But as we grow older, good nutrition and regular exercise become even more important. A diet rich in antioxidants may help protect against some health problems such as heart disease, Alzheimer's, cataracts and certain types of cancer." Not to mention: "After the age of 40, the metabolic rate (the speed at which the body burns calories) drops, but the drop is very modest and the real reason many people in this age bracket start to suffer from middle-aged spread is due to a change in hormone levels and poor dietary choices, combined with a lack of exercise. Excess weight, particularly around the 'middle' is a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes and osteoarthritis and the longer you wait before you tackle the problem the harder it becomes – nip any weight gain in the bud now before it becomes a serious problem."

5

Don't Think You're Too Cool for Therapy

depressed woman talking to lady psychologist during session, mental health
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Some of us ignore psychological pain even more than physical pain, especially men. "Men in their 40s have the tendency to ignore their emotional needs, which leads to an increase in stress and stress-related illness," says Haley Neidich, LCSW, a therapist based in New Haven, Connecticut.  "Acknowledging when you need support and seeking out the right mental health counseling for your needs is essential."

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6

Don't Skip These Essential Health Screenings

Woman have her blood pressure checked by female doctor.
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According to Beaumont Health, "the screenings in the 18 – 39 age group should continue to be completed annually, or as recommended by your physician, which include:

  • a cholesterol check should be completed in your twenties, and then annually once you turn 35; it will be checked every five years if normal, annually if you have risk factors
  • full body skin check to examine for suspicious moles or skin lesions
  • women: exam for breast lumps
  • women: pelvic exam
  • women: pap smear should be conducted every three years starting at the age of 21
  • men: testicular exam"

And if you're over 40, add these in, says Beaumont:

  • "women: mammograms start the age of 40 and should be done annually; if breast cancer runs in your family or you have other risk factors, you may need to begin regular mammograms at an earlier age
  • men: prostate screenings start at the age 50 unless you are a high-risk individual then you start at the age of 40
  • full body scan for suspicious moles or skin lesions should be completed annually, as well as fasting blood sugar levels for signs of diabetes
  • colonoscopy should be completed at age 50 or ten years earlier than the youngest family member with colon cancer; with normal results, colorectal cancer screenings should be completed every 10 years."

7

You Can Think You're Young. But Don't Exercise That Way.

A man and a woman stretching in the park.
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Says the Cleveland Clinic, when it comes to exercise:

  • "Warm up: 'It's important to warm up your muscles before strength training,' says Tom Iannetta ATC, CSCS, a senior athletic trainer and certified strength and conditioning specialist. 'Five or 10 minutes on the elliptical machine or stationary bike gives you a good light warmup before lifting weights.'
  • Get stretchy: 'Incorporate a good flexibility program alongside your strength training program,' he says. Whether it's yoga or a simple stretching routine, it will help you stay flexible and decrease the risk of tendon tears and other injuries.
  • Try machines: If you're used to lifting free weights, consider switching to weight machines. These can be safer and help you avoid injuries when aging brings on a loss of muscle tone.
  • Listen to your body: That's true at any age, but especially as you get older. If you have muscle pain that lasts the better part of a week, or joint pain that lasts more than a day or two, that's a red flag."

And to get through life at your healthiest, Don't Take This Supplement, Which Can Raise Your Cancer Risk.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more