Apart from the odd grey hair as you hurtle towards the big 40 there’s little obvious sign that you are getting older. You may feel fabulous but there are subtle changes going on in the body that will impact on the next decade. So here’s our guide to what every women should do to ensure she remains happy and healthy throughout her forties.
1. Eat breakfast
Your metabolism slows down 2% each decade so eating breakfast every day is essential. Why? Eating at the start of the day works together with your metabolism which is at its peak in the morning and fuels activity.
Studies have shown that women who eat breakfast lose more weight and sustain their loss more effectively than those on a low-carb diet who make breakfast their smallest meal and who have a tendency to put the weight back on after just four months.
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Just 30 minutes a day gives your metabolism the jump start it needs. You don’t need to join a gym: simple squats for the thighs and stomach crunches will help shore up your bones, maintain balance and crucially avoid injury, which becomes more important as you get older.
3. Take calcium and vitamin D
Maintaining strong bones has never been more essential, so give them a boost with calcium and vitamin D which you can get naturally from foods such as milk and salmon. Experts recommend women in their forties have 1000mg of calcium and 800 IU (international units) of vitamin D every day, taking supplements if necessary.
4. Manage your stress
If you are holding down a job as well as looking after a family, stress can trigger unhealthy changes in the body such as increased blood pressure, lower libido and faster cell death by inhibiting the natural heart rate.
All of this can contribute to you ageing faster, so to maintain a healthy heartbeat, breathe in through your nose for four beats and out for eight at least twice a day or anytime you feel under pressure.
This will activate the vagus nerve which runs from the brain to the pelvis, relaxing the heart, muscles, and blood vessels.
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5. Eat protein to fuel your mood and brain
If you’re prone to low moods, try pumping up your protein intake. Eating foods with the amino acids needed to form complete proteins, at least twice a day, boosts levels of mood-lifting neurotransmitters in the brain, which in turn can help with symptoms of depression and poor memory.
Fish, eggs and quinoa are great sources of protein – aim for four ounces at each meal – but don’t neglect carbs, as they help increase serotonin production in the brain and boost mood.
6. Make a move – in the bedroom and on the dancefloor
Try something new with your partner (and we don’t just mean in the bedroom!)
When a relationship is in its first flush, dopamine sites in the brain stimulate the libido. If your relationship is a little lacklustre, recreate those heady days by being adventurous with each other.
Take a leaf out of Strictly’s book and try ballroom dancing, or go somewhere more exciting than your usual beach holiday. And get in touch with your inner Fifty Shades by experimenting with sex toys – surveys have shown that women who do enjoy better sex lives.
7. Catch up with friends
Make sure you keep up with friends (in person, not just on Facebook!) Not only does relaxing with them reduce stress and boost self-esteem, a good social life can also mean less risk of diabetes, heart disease and strokes.
8. Schedule vital health checks
This is the decade when health checks really start to count. Tick off the essential checks such as an eye test (presbyopia or ‘old’ sight may creep up at around 45), blood pressure, cholesterol, thyroid, mammogram and cervical smear.
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