Get fit at 40

Get fit at 40

Turning 40 should be a new reason for women to get fit say gynaecologists, who confess most women think otherwise. Doctors say every woman should consider turning 40 as an important milestone in her life and health should be the priority.

"It is a transitional phase where women are gradually approaching menopause. A woman in this phase of life experiences inevitable changes health wise and it is important to follow a good lifestyle to combat these changes," said Dr Rishma Dhillon Pai, obstetrician & gynaecologist. She explained that as a woman approaches menopause, her body produces less oestrogen and increases risk of bone loss. "Exercise and good diet helps during this phase. One should eat lot of fresh fruits and vegetables," said Dr Pai.

Dr Kiran Coelho, who practices at Khar Hinduja Healthcare, Mumbai and is a celebrity gynaecologist said women have a casual approach towards their health. "In my practice, I have seen women coming to me only when they are either pregnant or when they have menopausal symptoms, which is not the right approach."

Dr Coelho emphasised that post 40, every woman should compulsorily undergo annual health check-ups. She said a thyroid test, lipid profile test and diabetes test are among the few compulsory annual health check-ups for women. "Post 40, the chances of thyroid dysfunction, high cholesterol, getting diabetes increases. Women should also go for yearly mammography to rule out breast cancer and abdomen-pelvic sonography test to detect fibroids in uterus and cyst in ovaries. We also recommend pap smear test once a year for cervical cancer detection," explained Dr Coelho.

Dermatologists say women should also take care of their skin post 40. "It is the time when a woman will get age spots, wrinkles etc. Wearing sunscreen helps in slowing the skin ageing process. One should visit dermatologist. Looking good helps is boosting self-confidence," said Dr Apratim Goel, a Mumbai-based dermatologist.

Fitness first

Fitness also becomes crucial at this age, as an active lifestyle can help you tide over the symptoms of menopause and the boost of endorphins will also ensure better mental health.

Bollywood actor and a fitness icon Mandira Bedi has been a role model for many women on how to remain fit post 40. "Being fit means being comfortable mentally and physically every day, everywhere," said Bedi. The 45-year-old popular TV host wakes up at 6.45 am every day and works out five days a week. "I drop my son to school and hit the gym. I make sure I include cardio every day," said Bedi.

The actor says women should do things that make them happy. She said post 30, whether you are a man or a woman, you have to give priority to health. "It is important to exercise at least three times a week. Set small goals. Don't think about losing 20 kg at once. Focus on losing a kilo in one week. Also, eating clean is a way of life. Many people think that because they work out, they can eat anything. But your diet is 70% important, and exercising, only 30%. However, there are also people who starve themselves. Instead, find healthy foods you like and eat more of those. Adopt a sustainable diet because you can't beat what you eat," said Bedi.

While doctors agree with Bedi's fitness regime, they say these five things will keep you fit post 40:  

* Do not skip breakfast. Eat a protein-rich meal at the start of the day. This will not only aid in metabolism, but it will also keep you full and cut down on your unhealthy cravings.

* Aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. This will ensure bone health and give you a good balance.

* Get your calcium and vitamin D levels checked. If poor, consult your doctor for right dosage of supplements.

* Practise stress control. Stress can cause increased blood pressure, less energy to the brain, lower libido, and faster cell death. Meditation and breathing exercises will keep your stress levels in check.

* Get essential health check-ups (mammography, blood sugar level, blood pressure, pap smear etc.) done as per your doctor's advice.

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