Your 20s are all about experimenting with edgy this and bold that, tanning this and drinking that. But once you hit 30, it’s time to put on your big girl pants and stop cheating on your health. Here are 30 health rules all women should follow in their 30s:
1. Find a diet you love
Researchers say the best age for a woman to start a diet is 32. (Apparently because your 20s are all about letting loose, and once you hit your 40s you start caring less about your appearance and embracing middle age.)
2. Find a workout you love
“One of the most important things women can do is find an exercise they enjoy, as that’s what they’ll stick with the longest,” says fitness instructor Samira Shuruk. “We’re always hearing ‘you need cardio,’ ‘you need weights,’ ‘you need this latest fad,’ but none of those things matter if you don’t stick with it.”
3. Join the Meatless Mondays movement
According to a Harvard University study, cutting out meat once a week drastically decreases your risk of heart disease by up to 19 percent. It’s also good for the environment, since it reduces the amount of fossil fuels and water used to raise livestock.
4. Get your Kegel on
“Urinary incontinence affects 40 percent of women and costs billions of dollars every year to manage,” says Antonio Pizarro, M.D., board-certified OB-GYN. “Women in their 30s should do Kegel exercises — at least 30 reps per day — to improve pelvic floor muscle strength and improve the risks of developing urinary incontinence.”
5. Do a monthly breast exam
“Women in their 30s should perform monthly breast exams and report any pain, swelling, lumps, rashes or other changes to their health care providers immediately,” says Pizarro. “Mammogram screening may start at age 35 if a woman has a first degree relative with breast cancer.”
6. Make your own cleaning supplies
Not only will doing so save you some serious coin, but also exposure to icky chemicals.
7. Tweak your calorie intake
“We grow up learning about a balanced 2,000-calorie diet, but as we age we need less calories,” says fitness expert Brandy Yearous. “Depending on your BMI, a woman of 30 who isn’t very active needs 1,600 to 1,800 calories per day.” And for each year past 30, subtract seven calories from your total. (Obvi, if you’re more active, then you need more calories per day. Find ways to balance the amount of energy you take in with the amount of energy you burn.)
8. Treat your feet
“Exercise your feet,” says biomechanist Katy Bowman, author of Whole Body Barefoot. “Years of heel-wearing adds up to long-term foot and knee damage and a lack of foot exercise in general leaves you with a weak foundation — something you’ll want to build up before arriving at your golden years.”
9. Stay on top of your checkups
Here’s a full list.
10. Stand more
Do anything and everything you can to stop sitting so much. Sitting is terrible for your health — even if you work out regularly. Become mindful of adding more movement into your day.
11. Learn your family’s health history
Knowledge is power, and although your mom might avoid talking about your grandma’s struggle with dementia or your uncle’s depression, it may be the preventative key to your healthy and happy future.
12. Deal with your anger
We have emotions for a reason, so use them! Suppressing your anger can lead to poor-quality sleep, according to a study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine — and we all know how brutal exhaustion can be to your health.
13. Focus on your posture
In your 30s, you lose more bone than you produce. Unless you one day want to look like someone who snacks on small children while they dream, make sure to get your recommended daily dose of calcium, sit up straight and keep your core strong.
14. Have more orgasms
Not just because they’re awesome, but because they may offer brain benefits: When researchers took MRIs of women mid-orgasm, they found participants had increased blood flow to all parts of their brains.
15. Pay attention to bone density
“Osteoporosis is real and can sneak up on you,” says celebrity fitness trainer Alycea Ungaro. “Get plenty of dark leafy greens and up your resistance training as opposed to cardio workouts to keep yourself strong for the next several decades.”
16. Reduce inflammation
“Studies show we walk around in a chronic state of low level inflammation,” says Ungaro, who recommends combatting the issue by eating real whole foods, getting fresh air and exercise, drinking water and avoiding toxins and toxic intake.
17. Keep your hormones in check
“Start with getting a solid schedule of sleep,” says Ungaro. “Eliminate noise and light and try to wake up with natural light. Keeping your hormones on a consistent sleep cycle will regulate the other hormones and chemicals that keep you energized and happy.”
18. Always wear sunscreen
Just because you can’t see the sun doesn’t mean it’s not there — shield your skin from its harsh rays to reduce your risk of skin cancer, not to mention fine lines and wrinkles. Slather on a minimum of SPF 30 on the regular.
19. Ditch fast food
Time to break up with your cheeseburger: Just five days of eating fatty foods effs with the way your body burns calories.
20. Drink water every morning
Drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning hydrates your bod (and brain!) for a new day.
Flossing is one of those über-important health routines we almost always put on the back burner. Meanwhile, it’s one of the most important. It’s not just about removing food bits from your teeth, but the plaque that forms between your teeth, which causes tooth decay, gingivitis and eventually tooth loss.
22. Cut back on TV
One study found those who watched more than two hours of TV daily not only ate more, but also hoovered more sugary sodas and processed snacks than those who watched less TV.
23. Stop mindless eating
Get back in touch with your bod’s natural hunger cues to avoid packing on extra pounds and filling your body with unhealthy ingredients.
24. Quit smoking
Word is women who quit smoking before the big 4-0 live at least 10 years longer than those who don’t. Just saying.
25. Get your spending in check
Money problems are bad for your health: A Rutgers University survey found financial stress contributed to such icky things as high blood pressure, depression, insomnia, weight gain and excessive smoking and drinking.
26. Detox your pantry
Every day there’s a new headline about eating healthy that contradicts the ones that were published the day before. It’s tough to keep up! Instead, keep it simple: Eat whole, organic foods from the four food groups while avoiding processed ones filled with unnecessary chemicals and wads of sugar.
27. Step away from the cell phone
Ogling at your smartphone before bed may cause you to take longer to reach the deeper stages of sleep and spend less time in them, according to the Daily Mail. Pretty sure Twitter can wait.
28. Don’t use alcohol to fall asleep
As much as you think it will help you get to sleep faster, drinking alcohol as a sleep aid may actually cause insomnia over time.
29. Visit a dermatologist
“Your 30s can bring significant changes in your complexion,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. David Bank. “As you get older and produce less oil, your skin can get drier and scalier. The accumulation of sun damage can begin to crop up in the form of fine wrinkles, especially in the crow’s feet area. Also, because your skin cell turnover is slower, you may begin to look slightly more pasty with less of a rosy glow.”
Visit your dermatologist for annual skin checks and for customized help with any issues you might be having.
30. Reevaluate your relationships
“The impact of a negative relationship goes beyond self-esteem, into the very body itself,” Dr. Howard Rankin, Ph.D., told Woman’s Day. “Under chronic stress, the immune system breaks down, leading to a whole host of diseases.” In other words, cut ties with the toxic people in your life, stat.