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Green Is The New Black

OPINION: 7 Health Mistakes Women Make in Their 30s (And How to Fix Them)

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You can be in your 30s and still not have life figured out. There’s no shame in it. Many of us will still be stumbling through life and making new mistakes when we’re in our 50s, 60s or even older. While perfection is often elusive and sometimes unattainable, there are some mistakes that you should stop making now. We’re talking specifically about health mistakes that will add up in the long run.

Here we take a closer look at a couple of common mistakes that you can avoid when you’re in your 30s to ensure a better quality of life.

 

Skipping meals

Whether you are a career woman whose days consist of back-to-back meetings or a stay at home mum juggling cleaning, cooking, football practices and grocery shopping, you are probably forced to rush through your day to meet every task. With a packed schedule, skipping lunch may seem like a simple way to gain a few minutes but soon it becomes a habit. Studies by NCBI show that up to 57% of people start skipping lunch before we hit 30 and it isn’t long before it becomes routine. This so-called ‘daytime fasting’ is not the perfect dieting hack and rather than helping you lose weight, it often triggers overeating later in the day which leads to weight gain. Skipping meals can also interfere with your metabolism and increase your risk of diabetes. Many women who are diagnosed with diabetes are in their 40s but you can reduce this risk by sticking to regular meal timings in your 30s.

 

Not making sleep a priority

According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), the average woman over 30 sleeps for only 6 hours and 41 minutes during her workweek – even though the average sleep requirement is 7-9 hours. Skimping on shuteye occasionally can make you grumpy and unable to focus the next day but doing this on a regular basis has more serious health consequences. Poor sleep on a regular basis will increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Insufficient sleep also speeds up biological ageing which means that you can look older than your actual age and shortens your life expectancy. Create a regular sleep schedule while you are in your 30s to preserve your youth and your health.

Leading a sedentary lifestyle

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American works for 8.8 hours per day. Since most of us work in corporate offices, it’s not surprising that 45% of women spend less than 30 minutes a day up on their feet at work. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a sedentary lifestyle is now among the leading causes of death and disability all over the world and accounts for approximately 2 million deaths per year. An inactive lifestyle can also make your bones weaker, decrease your immune function and reduce your body’s stability to break down fats and sugars. A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to several health problems from obesity and diabetes to heart attacks and even certain cancers. Try to schedule 30 minutes of physical exercise every morning to improve your overall health and fitness.

 

Smoking the “occasional” cigarette

Thanks to anti-smoking efforts, people are now aware of the dangers of smoking. Countries like Canada and Norway have seen a decline in smoking rates as a result. However, many countries have seen an increase in low-level or occasional smokers, especially people who think of themselves as social smokers. The problem is that most social smokers don’t see themselves as smokers and believe that health warnings about smoking aren’t applicable to them. Studies show that nearly a quarter of all smokers are light or occasional smokers. Even low-level smoking is linked to several health issues including an increased risk of heart disease and slower wound recovery. Light or intermittent smoking is also linked to a 500% increase for lung cancer in women says Harvard Health.

 

Binge drinking on a girl’s night out

While many of us know the dangers of alcoholism, studies show that women are more vulnerable to the adverse consequences of alcohol use as compared to men (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism). Women are more likely to suffer alcohol-related organ damage and heart disease than men. National data shows that the cirrhosis death rate among women aged 45-64 is 57% but only 21% among men in the same age bracket. We’re not telling you to give up on girls’ nights but instead regulate your alcohol consumption when you go out. Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks throughout your evening as this will help to reduce your overall alcohol intake. Medical experts recommend that women should consume no more than three drinks in a single day and a maximum of seven drinks per week.

 

Skipping medical checkups

A lot of women in their 30s skip regular medical checkups and tests as they believe that they are too young to have serious health issues such as heart disease or diabetes. It is true that many lifestyle diseases are diagnosed when women are in their 40s but medical tests in your 30s can help highlight potential risks in order to prevent these conditions (MedlinePlus). When in your 30s, you should have your blood pressure checked at least once every 2 years and your cholesterol once every 5 years. You should also do a pap smear and HPV test every 5 years after you hit 30. If you have a family history of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or cystic fibrosis, your doctor may recommend additional tests (Everyday Health).

Not using sunscreen

According to a recent survey, only 30% of women use sunscreen on a regular basis. Using sunscreen on your face and other exposed areas of your body can help to prevent certain skin cancers (National Cancer Institute), including three of the most common skin cancers which are squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Fair-skinned women are at a higher risk of skin cancer and should use sunscreen on a daily basis. When buying sunscreen look for one that is labelled broad-spectrum with an SPF of 15 or higher.

 

When you’re in your 30s, your future isn’t set in stone. The choices that you make now will have a huge impact not just on how well you age, but also on your risk of lifestyle diseases. Avoiding these common health mistakes may not guarantee eternal youth, but it’ll certainly help you stay healthy well into your 40s and 50s.

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Anita Fernandes has been writing extensively on health and wellness for over a decade. She has expertise in nutrition, fitness, public health, and weight loss and has contributed content to a variety of leading digital health publishers. Anita has a unique perspective on healthy living and lifestyle, as she has battled and overcome eating disorders and obesity. She shares her experiences in an effort to help others overcome the physical and mental health problems that can sometimes seem insurmountable.

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