There is a saying, “Life begins at forty”. Yay! but, this is also the time when the body starts to deteriorate, indicating the arrival of midlife health issues. With a busy schedule, unhealthy eating habits, irregular sleeping patterns, most of us during midlife are prone to life-threatening health issues such as certain cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension.
It is important to carefully manage our lifestyle in order to keep ourselves healthy during midlife by following certain health tips such as mentioned here within this article along with guidance from health and nutrition experts. Staying active can slow down the progression of certain diseases while keeping a check on our diet is known to not just slow down the progression but also to have corrective measures to a certain extent.
Unfortunately, Most of the health issues go unchecked and starts showing signs only at an advanced stage hence it is critical to regularly participate in screening for common health issues at midlife. One of the most important health tip to follow would be to undertake regular medical checkups to ascertain the weight, vitamin levels, early warning signs for issues related heart, kidneys, liver etc.
It has been a universally accepted fact that choosing a healthy lifestyle by losing excess weight, avoid smoking and drinking, indulging into keeping ourselves physically active along with a regular healthy diet regime can help in reducing health risks for many chronic diseases.
Explore more about the common health conditions to watch out for if you are in your midlife.
Obesity and Overweight:
Being obese or overweight is very common nowadays and the trend is increasing rapidly. This may not sound serious however such health issues eventually can lead to type 2 diabetes, coronary heart diseases, stroke, bowel cancer, breast cancer and many more.
This condition is caused due to the increase in the number of fat cells in the human body. Doctors diagnose obesity and overweight by measuring the circumference of the waist and body mass index (BMI). Would you like to work out your score? Check the link to BMI Healthy Weight Calculator by NHS.
Most Common Causes:
- Energy imbalance as in lack of physical activity is one of the main causes of obesity and overweight. When the calorie intake is more than the calories burnt over the period of time the body keeps storing surplus fats and as a result, we become obese and overweight.
- It is also known that ageing and family history ( Genetics ) also result in people becoming obese and overweight.
- Certain medical conditions (e.g hypothyroidism) also contribute to obesity unless they can be kept under control via regular checkups and medicines.
- Certain medicines such as antidepressants, antipsychotics and medications for diabetes as well as epilepsy can contribute to being obese and overweight.
It is quite simple, during midlife if we do not keep a check on our health seriously then weight gain is imperative which may eventually lead to obesity and being overweight.
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Cardiovascular problem is one of the leading reasons for the death of people in midlife. Unfortunately, it has been claiming lives even before people can reach their midlife due to various factors of lifestyles these days.
It is a situation wherein the accumulation of fatty deposits in our arteries increase the likelihood of the development of blood clots. Cardiovascular disease affects the normal functioning of the heart and the blood vessels. This increases the chances of heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, Peripheral artery disease and Aortic disease.
Remember, this is not just a man’s disease. Compared to women, men in their forties are more likely to have a heart problem.
Most Common Causes:
Age, gender, unhealthy diet, genetic factors, physical inactivity, excessive consumption of alcohol, tobacco.
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Type 2 diabetes (Non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus):
Diabetes mellitus type 2 is commonly associated with the high level of sugar (glucose) in blood and disorder where the cells of our body stop responding to a hormone called “insulin”. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes increase manifolds when we are in our forties. Peeing more than usual, feeling tired and thirsty most of the time, sudden weight loss and blurred vision are common symptoms of this disease.
This disease is known to have caused heart diseases, strokes and blindness in the long term. It is alarming that type 2 diabetes is also associated with a 10 year shorter life expectancy and the risk is increasing in young people too.
Most Common Causes:
- Physically inactive Lifestyle
- Being Overweight and obesity
- Family history (Genetics)
- Slow metabolism due to lack of sleep.
It is of paramount importance to do everything possible to keep a check on your blood sugar levels along with going to your medical practitioner for regular diabetes checkups.
Hypertension/ High blood pressure:
Simply put, The force at which the blood is pumped by the heart through our veins and the resistance thus provided by the veins have a specific value that gets measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). When this value is not following the norms in a consistent manner then the person is said to have an issue of high blood pressure. This is one of the most common health issues during midlife for both men and women.
High Blood Pressure in itself does not pose a risk however due to this increased pressure there is an adverse effect mostly on our heart, blood vessels, kidneys, brain and eyes. It increases the risk of kidney failure, stroke, heart and cardiovascular diseases.
This condition is very dangerous since it does not have any symptoms and the only way to keep an eye on it is to measure it from time to time.
In today’s world and the lifestyle that we live in, most of us in around our midlife tend to be at risk for high blood pressure. Statistics have shown that men are more likely to have high blood pressure than women. With more and more women being a part of the corporate workforce and or pursuing their entrepreneurial journey they too are at risk as the age advances.
Most Common Causes:
Obesity and Overweight
Unhealthy diet ( more salt and fewer fruits and vegetables)
Too much alcohol or caffeinated drinks
Irregular sleeping pattern or disturbed sleep
It is always recommended to get a regular check-up done and follow a healthy lifestyle routine to best prevent or reduce the risk of this condition.
As we age, among other changes that happen to our body around 40, our bone density also starts to decrease making them more susceptible to fractures. As the age progresses and if the lifestyle that we have chosen does not consciously attend to keeping up with recommended calcium and Vitamin D intake then we are at risk of developing Osteoporosis
Although, everyone after the age of 35 starts losing some bone density gradually however not everyone develops Osteoporosis.
It isn’t painful until we experience a fracture, a slight bump, a normal slip and a fall. Even a powerful cough or a sneeze is capable of causing a fracture in ribs.
Most Common Causes:
- Menopause earlier than the age of 45 in Women.
- Low levels of testosterone in Men.
- Smoking and Excess Alcohol consumption.
- Hormone-related conditions are known to trigger osteoporosis.
It would just be a great advise if it was sufficient to say “Please take care and avoid falling or prevent tripping over. However, there is more to taking care of your bones as you leave your thirties behind.
Common Physical Ailments:
No matter how much we ignore and not acknowledge certain some health issues that we encounter day in and day out irrespective of us having any other ailment but at the end of the day our mood, effectiveness and performance depends upon our happy and healthy functionality.
Living through your 20’s like there is no tomorrow, getting through the ’30s with the pressures and pursuits of worldly pleasures, chugging along through the cycle of life as prescribed in the family or social norms is bound to have its impact at some point in time. Yes, I am talking about Headaches and migraines, Aching Joints, Muscle pain, Gastrointestinal problem, Eyesight issues and all.
These are issues that on the surface seem very innocent and are not life-threatening in terms of the major critical illnesses however they are as a matter of fact indications of imbalance in our health, fitness and lifestyle.
Most Common Causes:
- Irregular eating habits
- Eating food with insufficient nutrition values
- Lack of physical exercise
- Excess consumption of Tea, Coffee, Carbonated Soft Drinks & Alcohol
- Too much screen time, either on a computer, TV or on mobile phones.
An unhealthy and inactive lifestyle along with the effects of neglecting health and fitness during the ’30s is something to be concerned about, this can seriously imbalance the body and its organs working in harmony. Let us treat these as a wake-up call to kickstart rather restart our focused efforts towards better health, fitness and lifestyle. It is equally essential to enjoy our midlife health while enjoying and enduring life and its surprises.
Common Mental Ailments:
“Frustration, Anger, Anxiety, Depression, Mental Fatigue, Loss of Interest.” Does this sound familiar? Transition to midlife is not easy, physically and psychologically. However strong mentally or physically we may be but there will be times when we too have to take a breather.
There is excitement around us at the same time there are problems, issues and challenges. Dealing with them day in and day out while having to bear the burden of social pressure, peer pressure, pressure from family for the fulfilment of various requirements and needs etc can wear us down.
Although not everyone goes through such situations and emotions in midlife. However, our circumstances and environment might end up making it certain and make us inching ahead towards them.
Most Common Causes:
- Career responsibility
- Working longer hours
- Redundancy, losing a job
- Conflict/ Separation from spouse
- Family responsibility & Kids
- Hormonal imbalance/ fluctuation
- Death or loss (of spouse, kids or family member)
- Extramarital affair
The professional side of the things eventually affects the family side of things which eventually lead to issues in relationships with your partner, spouse, parents and kids. Whatever the causes can be, we should try to steer clear of them if they are going to pose a bigger problem in the future. Obviously, easier said than done.
RSI, Arthritis and Spondylitis:
We have all heard these words ”RSI, Arthritis and Spondylitis” and rightly so because around the age of 40 our muscles, joints and bones are not really in a good shape. There are several diseases related to joints, muscles and bones and although they are not limited to people over 40 and can affect people of any age however symptoms of most of these start showing up in the mid-40s or in midlife in most cases.
Loss of muscle mass, bone density, and cartilage can lead to a plethora of problems. Most commonly our hands, spine, knees and hips are affected and restricted movements make our daily chores and life a little difficult.
Most Common Causes:
- Family history (hereditary)
- Repetitive tasks involving knees, hips, shoulder, elbows and wrists
- Carrying a heavy bag over one shoulder only ( in the long term )
- Prolonged computer ( keyboard and mouse ) usage without proper posture
- Overdoing sports without proper nutrition and diet
- Jobs involving bending, lifting and kneeling down
- Lack of physical activity
- Injury and delay in recuperation
It helps to be swift, agile, flexible when it comes down to enjoying your sporting sessions, your holidays, your leisure activities and life as in general. Yes, we may not be what we were in our 20’s but we can strive to become ideal 40 ’s, It just is a matter of “Waking up and smelling the coffee!” before it is too cold (late).
Where are the car keys? , Where did I put my jumper ?, Did you pay the bill on time? and many more. Short term memory issues, We all have been there and done that. During the midlife journey, we are so occupied with things and life around us that we sometimes forget to address a very important aspect of ourselves – Our Memory. After all our physical body is nothing but just an outer shell of our being which is our personality, our mind, our entity.
A subtle decline of cognitive abilities, Ah’ ok. The gradual decrease in our mental abilities as the age progresses and we surpass the milestone for midlife is very common. To define it in a generic sense the word “Dementia” can be used. It is not a disease, yes it is not and is not progressive in every case. It is just a collective term to explain the decrease or decline of one’s mental ability for performing day to day activities. Forgetfulness as we all know it by but it is in fact “Mild Cognitive Impairment”.
Most Common Cause:
- Brain cell death ( Due to but not limited to: Lack of nutrition, sleep & fitness )
- Can be a result of stroke, head injury or any other serious brain-related ailment
- Alzheimer’s (Yes, it is one of the causes of dementia)
Although the decline in mental abilities does not always result in dementia however unless kept an eye on and not taken seriously, it may progress unchecked from mild to acute stages.
It is nothing but a type of Dementia, causing problems in our lives effective memory, thinking ability and overall behaviour of our personality. It is actually not due to ageing and is not a part of normally growing old. It is a progressive degenerative disease and goes from bad to worse over a period of time.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s currently and the only way to fight it is to potentially try and prevent it from developing or delay it as much as possible. It not only occurs in the age group of 65 and above and is not just a disease for old age people. Thousands of people worldwide with this disease get symptoms between 30 years of age to 50 years and this is called as “Early-onset Alzheimer’s”.
Most Common Causes:
- Genetic factors
- Lifestyle and unhealthy environment.
- Health conditions like blood pressure and diabetes (Type 2) & high cholesterol
- Active or Passive smoking
- Obesity and physical inactivity
Effects of Alzheimer’s is not just restricted to problems with memory and also includes depression, anxiety, paranoia, insomnia, mood swings, distrust and social withdrawal. If you think that this health issue is not worth giving enough time and commitment now for the happy wellbeing later, think again!
What can we do about these health issues in our midlife:
- Learn more about health, fitness and nutrition.
- Speak to your medical practitioner and seek further information if even in slightest of a doubt.
- Come up with a routine and stick to it to follow a healthy lifestyle
- Develop healthy eating habits and avoid eating junk food
- Include all sorts of nutritious food items
- Stop Smoking ( active or passive )
- Go easy on tea, coffee, alcohol and soft drinks, plain old water is best
- Give importance to yourself and your family
- Do not skip meals or start sudden diet programs
- Get adequate sleep. (Almost 6 to 8 hours every day)
- Set up goals in career or things you do
- Develop new hobbies and interests
- Include physical activities, exercises or sports in your weekly routine
- Read books on various topics and keep your brain active & challenged
- Get help if you need (counselling or medication) from friends, family & professionals
Most important of all:
Getting a routine health check done and don’t neglect symptoms if they persist beyond the norms.
When you reach your midlife, all you need to do is find some time to keep your mind and body in shape. Indulging in moderate physical activities or exercises such as swimming, running, cycling, regularly going to the gym etc keeps us active and energetic. Meditation, yoga and brain-challenging activities keeping our cognitive abilities sharp will have a positive effect without a doubt, All of the above mentioned will contribute to a healthier lifestyle and might help to prevent many such health issues discussed above. Having said all that, take charge today and lead a healthy life ahead.