The One Thing You Should Never, Ever Do if You’re Over 40 and Want to Stay Healthy

The One Thing You Should Never, Ever Do if You're Over 40 and Want to Stay Healthy

Female medical practitioner reassuring a patient

Sorry, millennials: We’re getting older. Typically, the 40-year mark of life creeps up on us because we’re just so busy doing and focusing on other things (read: kids, a pandemic and the list goes on). But as we get older, our health concerns change and in many contexts, they grow.

Here’s what doctors say you should absolutely never do once and after you turn 40 if you want to stay healthy and feel younger than your years. 

Related: The #1 Unexpected Secret a Geriatrician Wants You to Know About ‘Blue Zones’

The One Thing You Should Never, Ever Do if You’re Over 40 and Want to Stay Healthy

Here’s the one thing almost all doctors agree on in terms of maintaining your health long-term: Do not skip your annual physicals.

“Since all people are different, and they have individual perspectives on their health, it is impossible to identify one item which everyone needs to focus on to stay healthy,” Dr. David Cutler, MD, board-certified family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, says. “But there is one thing that everyone should do regularly after they turn 40 to protect their health as much as possible: have a routine preventive examination by their primary care physician.”

“As a physician who has been boarded in internal, geriatric and palliative medicine, the importance of going for an annual check-up becomes even more important as you age,” Dr. Elizabeth Landsverk, MD, tells Parade.

Related: The #1 Habit That Can Reduce Your Biological Age, According to a Geriatrician

If part of your skipping out on annual physical exams is that you haven’t found a doctor you click with yet, keep looking.

“One of the most important keys for maintaining excellent healthcare is having a good and caring primary care doctor in your corner,” Dr. Landsverk says. “And don’t be afraid to doctor shop. While nurse practitioners can be very helpful, they do not have the same training as physicians to fully understand disease processes and risks, though they may be more approachable and could point you in the right direction. Personally speaking, it took me four years and four different ear, nose and throat specialists before I finally found the one who could surgically correct my sinusitis (the ‘solution’ offered by the others was prescribing antibiotics, which didn’t work).”

Read on for more no-nos for the over-40 set.

Related: The One Thing You Should Never, Ever Do if You’re Over 50, According to a Geriatrician

6 Other Health Tips if You’re Over 40

1. Act your age

A major key to staying healthy is to not be in denial about your age. All the tretinoin in the world may keep your visage youthful (more power to you!), but you’re still getting older everywhere else.

“When people get to age 40, most have a hard time believing they have reached ‘middle age,'” Dr. Cutler says. “They generally feel young and healthy. But the reality is that 40 is halfway to 80, and the degenerative process of aging has already set in. While there are many diets and activities measured to slow aging, we still haven’t figured out how to stop aging completely.”

Related: The One Thing You Should Never Do if You Want to Live to 100, According to Geriatricians

2. Don’t wait until the “doorknob moment” to ask your doctor questions

A big part of your annual physical should be asking your physician questions about your overall health—and you shouldn’t put it off until your doctor is on their way out of the door. Dr. Landsverk recommends asking the following, depending on your specific concerns:

  • How can I sleep through the night without interruption?
  • How can I relieve my stress?
  • What lifestyle changes could improve my life?
  • How will my family’s medical history impact my future?
  • Do the combinations of medications I’m taking have any undesired effects?
  • Are there ways to treat my condition without having to resort to taking medication?
  • Will the over-the-counter medications I’m taking have any ill effects on my health? Could they be interfering with my prescribed medications?
  • How can I alleviate my pain?
  • I like my nightly cocktails at the end of the workday…is that a problem?
  • How much drinking is too much?
  • Do you have any suggestions about what kind of exercise program I should adopt?

Related: The One Food You Should Eat Every Day if You Want To Live to 100

3. Don’t skip vaccines and boosters

While you’re at your annual physical, ask your doctor to get you up to date on your shots.

“There is no greater single medical intervention in history which has contributed more to improved health, decreased disease and delayed death than vaccines,” Dr. Cutler says. “COVID and flu vaccines are two obvious and timely examples, but vaccines for travel like hepatitis A and yellow fever can also be addressed.”

Dr. Landsverk also points out that COVID has been associated with increased dementia risk, which obviously will be a growing concern as you age.

Related: Do You Really Need an Annual COVID Booster?

4. Don’t forget about COVID

Dr. Landsverk emphasized the importance of patients protecting themselves from the ongoing risks of COVID-19, noting, “Especially as we age, getting COVID can be particularly concerning when you consider that long-term COVID causes more inflammation of the brain, which can increase your dementia risk, as well as pose problems for your heart, lungs, kidneys, nerves, etc. You might think about it like permanent scarring for which there is no cure—once damaged, forever damaged.”

Related: The #1 Sign Someone Is Aging Well, According to a Geriatrician

5. Don’t skip your colon cancer or breast cancer screenings

More people are being diagnosed with colon cancer at younger ages, making it increasingly crucial to get regular screenings. According to Dr. Landsverk, it’s especially important to talk to your doctor about colon cancer risk if you have a family history of the disease. And if you’re a woman, don’t forget that you should be getting an annual mammogram starting at age 40!

Related: One Thing Colon Cancer Doctors Say You Should Never, Ever Do

6. Don’t mess with your heart

We’re not talking about avoiding Tinder dates. We’re talking about your heart health. Dr. Landsverk says sticking to a plant-based diet and exercising for half an hour a day is one of the best things you can do for your cardiovascular health, and that by age 40, you don’t have time to put it off anymore.

“Doing so will decrease your risk of heart attack, stroke and dementia by 50%,” she says. “While taking a multivitamin each day may offer some benefit, we do know that vitamin D helps fortify bones and vitamin B12 helps with nerves. As far as expensive supplements that make bombastic claims go, there is no scientific evidence that they provide any substantial health benefits and remember: The FDA does not regulate this industry.”

Next, The #1 Anti-Inflammatory Food You Should Eat Every Day if You Want To Live to 100


Read the original article on Parade