TAKE SLEEP SERIOUSLY
You’ve heard sleep is important (and no how miserable you can be when you don’t get it. But once you get into your 40s you might need to reassess how much sleep you are getting and whether you need to be better about following the “early to bed, early to rise” mantra.
“The quality of our sleep tends to go down with age, partly due to increased life stress and also due to hormonal changes that occur in both men and women over 40,” explains Ivana Chapman, fitness and nutrition coach and founder of the Lean365 fitness program. “Getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep will enhance your immune system, reduce stress levels, and optimize your recovery from exercise.”
DITCH THE ALARM CLOCK
One of the ways to ensure you are getting a proper sleep is to get by without an alarm clock. There are few more unnatural ways to wake up than with the screaming siren of a small mechanical device blasting in your ear. Instead, try to get in the habit of waking up without it, at a time when your body intuitively knows it’s time to rise. If you have trouble doing so, you might want to go to bed earlier or rethink your sleep habits.
“Training with weights two to four times a week builds muscle and maintains bone density,” explains Chapman. “It also makes it easier to maintain your weight, since a leaner body with more muscle is more metabolically active and burns more calories all day long.” And being physically active is just one way that Jane Fonda Stays an Ageless Wonder.
DRINK MORE WATER
Hydrating does all kinds of great thing for your health, mind, and body’s functioning, and only becomes more vital as you get older. Have a reusable water bottle close at hand throughout your workday. Drink at least a glass of water at every meal. Order a glass of water when you order a beer and try to drink them both before ordering your next (that’s also a great hangover cure).
GET TO KNOW YOUR LOCAL FARMER’S MARKET
These days, most cities have at least one farmer’s market, if not several. These are great places to go for fresh, and cheap, produce, and a great way to get your ideas flowing for meals you could make with seasonal ingredients. There’s also a good chance you’ll run into others who live nearby or with whom you have things in common.
BECOME A HEALTHY SNACKER
Load up on nuts, dried fruit, granola bars, and other healthy snacks so that when your stomach growls, you’ll reach for something that won’t be slowly killing you. A handful of almonds or dried apricots are surprisingly satisfying when you’re still feeling a little hungry after lunch.
EAT MORE PROTEIN
In conjunction with muscle-building exercise, you should also be in the habit of eating food that will help build your muscles. “Building and preserving precious muscle isn’t possible if you’re not taking in enough protein,” says Chapman.
“Government recommendations are unnecessarily low, and don’t represent the amount of protein required for optimal health and muscle maintenance and growth.”She urges that for maintaining and building muscle in your 40s, you should aim to get 0.8–1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day (e.g. a 170-pound person would need 136–170 grams per day).
THINK MORE ABOUT RETIREMENT
In your 40s, retirement stops seeming like a far-off goal and saving becomes more important than ever. You should use this time to look more seriously at your retirement plans and making sure you are actually on track to both have a comfortable post-work life and consider what you would do with that extra time.
“A comprehensive, year by year, plan (no ‘calculators’) will show you the direct impact your current decisions will have on your future,” says Drew Parker, who created The Complete Retirement Planner. “Because life constantly changes, your plan needs to be revised regularly (annually), making this a habit, not a one-time occurrence. Seeing your financial future in black and white is eye opening, and it’s a critical step in achieving financial security.”
GET SERIOUS ABOUT SAVING
Speaking of retirement, in your 40s you should reassess how much money you are putting into your retirement account and boost it further. Take a deep dive into your expenses and find ways to cut as many of those out as possible (cancel those subscriptions you never use, get a cheaper internet package, buy the less-fancy cat food). You’ll be surprised how much further your money will stretch.
MAKE A HABIT OF GRATITUDE
There are no doubt plenty of things that annoy you throughout the day or are not exactly as you like them, but for your own peace of mind and long-term well-being, a habit of gratitude can prove hugely beneficial (as plenty of science has shown).
Take a few minutes each morning or afternoon to review what is going well in your life and what you are happy about.“Gratitude is a great habit that allows a person to appreciate the experiences they have had and that has made them who they are today,” Anthony Treas, a men’s health coach. “This is good for the heart and soul. A gratitude journey is a way to do this.”