11 Health Tweaks to Make in Your 30s to Stay Healthy for the Rest of Your Life
Make these small adjustments to stay fit and healthy for decades to come.
Healthy habits to start now
Each new decade seems to bring more responsibility. From your family to your career, there’s a lot going on. But health should always be a priority. Learn how to manage stress, sneak in exercise, and prioritize a well-balanced diet. Keeping up with these healthy habits before, during, and after your 30s will help you stay well.
Work out in the morning
It’s great if you’ve finally developed the habit of exercising right after work instead of just collapsing on the couch. Unfortunately, says pulmonary and critical care physician, Cedric Rutland, MD, morning workouts are better for your 30s. “Sure, getting up is no fun, but it’s proven scientifically that working out in the A.M. increases your energy level throughout the day, along with improving your mood and the feeling of accomplishment before you arrive to work,” he says. This extra burst of motivation will also give you more time (and desire) to plan your meals, making you more mindful about portions and nutrition, says Dr. Rutland.
Learn to manage stress and anxiety
If you haven’t learned stress-relief strategies that work for you by the time you reach 30, stress can lead to serious health issues. As psychologist Nikki Martinez explains, stress is responsible for 77 percent of all illnesses—from digestion concerns to an inability to lose weight. That’s why she says learning effective coping skills that work specifically for you is key to happiness in your 30s.
“When you reach an age where your body is going through changes and is not bouncing back as it once did, stress and anxiety can actually start to become quite significant issues. It can cause you to gain weight, due to the high levels of cortisol it produces. It can cause illness, prevent pregnancy, and contribute to miscarriage. It can start to really meaningfully impact relationships that are more serious at this age, prevent you from moving up in a career that you should be fairly established in, and it can rub off on your children, who learn coping styles and skills from observations,” Martinez explains. “Learning solid coping skills, stress management, mindfulness and healthy outlets can truly impact each and every area of your functioning.”
Seeing the doctor more often
Don’t skip annual doctor appointments because you are just “too busy.” If you’re a woman who is considering having a child in the next few years, making sure you’re healthy is especially essential to family planning. “Along with making sure women are up to date with preventive screenings, like pap smears, immunizations, and breast exams, diagnosing and treating medical conditions is imperative for a healthy pregnancy,” explains Annelise S. Swigert, MD, obstetrician and gynecologist.
Maintaining a healthy weight
Holding the line on weight gain is important for longevity and fertility. “As we age and our metabolism slows, we get caught up in the busyness of our lives and all of this can lead to weight gain,” Janet Choi, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist says. “Not only is a high BMI associated with increased heart disease and diabetes risks, but also increased fertility problems. Studies suggest higher IVF failure rates in obese or overweight women compared to similarly aged women with a normal BMI range. Pregnancy complications, such as miscarriages, gestational diabetes, and pregnancy-induced hypertension/preeclampsia increase with abnormal range BMIs.”
Prioritize your bones
When you think about working out and fitness goals, you might hope for a strong core and good stamina. While those are reasonable desires, Romy Block, MD, says now that you’re in your 30s, you need to keep your bones at top of mind. “Bone density peaks in your 30s, so this is the time to make sure you are doing everything possible to build and maintain strong, healthy bones,” she says. “Stay or get active with regular weight-bearing exercise and get adequate levels of vitamin D and calcium. Calcium is best found in dietary sources while vitamin D typically needs to be obtained via a supplement.”
Eat less sugar and more fat
As the candles add up on your birthday cake, you need to focus more on making smart nutritional choices for your health. Losing weight and staying fit gets more difficult with age, and the biggest way to control your waistline is via your fork. That’s why being mindful of the amount of sugar is in your dishes and what type of fat is in your recipe is important. Sugar causes inflammation in the body. Healthy fats are a great source of fuel and energy.
Keep your sunscreen next to your toothpaste
No matter where you live, you need to regularly wear sunscreen to protect your skin from too much sun exposure. Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, says doubling up on sunscreen as you age is so essential, you should keep the sunscreen bottle next to your toothpaste as a reminder. “A single missed day of sunscreen when getting incidental exposure walking to and from work likely will have a little impact on the skin. However, if you never wear sunscreen, even small amounts of UV light exposure have significant effects over time,” he shares. (Avoid these common sunscreen mistakes.)
Maintain your mobility
Your joints and overall mobility will stiffen as you move through this decade and into the next. That’s why certified personal trainer and fitness professional, Jessica Cifelli says to stay active and limber as you age, you need to make sure you practice a full range of motion that’s pain-free and without limitations. “It’s important to have quality movement patterns to not only squat, lunge, and do push-ups efficiently and painlessly, but to run with your children or complete a whole day of yard work without joint limitations. Use some time during your week to focus on shoulder, hip, thoracic spine, and ankle mobility for better performance and functional productivity,” she advises.
Eat more fiber
Board-certified surgeon, Cedrek McFadden, MD, calls fiber “the great regulator” for 30-somethings. Found in foods like peas, lentils, artichokes, broccoli, and these other high fiber foods, fiber helps make sure your digestive system is healthy and productive. But with an inadequate amount of fiber in your diet, Dr. McFadden says you’re at a higher risk for diarrhea, constipation, and hemorrhoids. “In your 30s and beyond, I recommend 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day, whether that is with the addition of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, or over-the-counter fiber supplements. This amount of fiber may ultimately be a goal that may require deliberate and intentional planning in the daily diet,” he says.
Know your family health history
As you age, Dr. McFadden says it becomes important to not only know but track the diseases that you’re genetically at a high risk of developing. “In your 30s, I recommend making note of any family history of colorectal cancers or polyps. Also, know the age at which family members were diagnosed as it may influence the age at which you should begin colon screening, For example, if your parents or sibling was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at the age of 42, you should begin colon screening at the age of 32,” he says.
Add more pulses to your diet
Because losing and maintaining weight only gets more difficult with each passing year, making small, effective, and habitual tweaks can promote balance in your lifestyle, says nutritionist Amy Gorin. She suggests eating more pulses, essentially different types of beans, chickpeas, lentils, and dry peas. She recommends eating one-half of a cup three times a week. If you do this, Gorin notes you’re meeting the USDA-recommended portion of fiber and protein. “Research shows that people who regularly eat pulses are 22 percent less likely to be obese, versus people who don’t eat them. You can puree cooked pulses and add them to a smoothie at breakfast, and for lunch or dinner, you can add them to a salad, fajitas, or tacos. For dessert, blend them into a brownie recipe,” she says.
- Cedric Rutland, MD
- Nikki Martinez, PsyD, LCPC, psychologist
- Annelise S. Swigert, MD, obstetrician and gynecologist
- Janet Choi, MD, reproductive endocrinologist
- Romy Block, MD
- Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital
- Jessica Cifelli, MS, certified personal trainer and fitness professional
- Cedrek McFadden, MD, board-certified surgeon
- Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
- Northwestern Medicine: “The Best Times to Eat”
- Cell Metabolism: “Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves Insulin Sensitivity, Blood Pressure, and Oxidative Stress Even without Weight Loss in Men with Prediabetes”