30s — Working out is what works

30s — Working out is what works

The 37-year-old mom had been feeling kind of blah – both mentally and physically.

So earlier this year, Julie Keim of Scarborough joined a running group, and she set a goal: Complete a 5K in 2011 (which she’s since done).

Being a career woman and mom, it’s easy to neglect your own health and well-being, she said.

Up until recently, “the last thing on my list to do was to work out,” she admitted.

But, “as you creep into your later 30s, you start long-term. I also did it to help with my mental state. When I wasn’t working out, I wasn’t as sharp, I wasn’t as clear.”

Exercise is key for women in their 30s, according to experts, as it’s typically when they’re bearing children and carrying around a little extra weight. At the same time, metabolism starts to slow down mid-decade.

But beyond exercise, say health experts, women in their 30s should ensure that they get enough sleep, and should also watch out for signs of both depression and stress, as they juggle careers and busy home lives.

Health experts also suggest regular preventative methods, including physicals with blood pressure, cholesterol and thyroid tests, as well as pelvic exams (including HPV tests) – and certainly don’t neglect the dentist.

Keim, for her part, keeps up with such screenings, including Pap smears, physicals and blood tests. Because breast cancer is in her family on her mother’s side, she also started biennial mammograms at 35.

Then there are the day-to-day preventative measures, like drinking plenty of water, taking vitamins and ensuring she gets enough calcium by taking supplements, drinking milk and eating yogurt and cheese.

This is key for all women – but especially for women in their 30s, as it’s the decade they generally start to lose bone mass, which puts them at risk for osteoporosis and brittle bones later in life.

Keim, mother to an 8-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter, acknowledged that, as you get into your later 30s, you start “thinking about a lot of other things you need to keep your eye on.”

For her, the biggest piece has been exercise. She’s “really picked up” over the last six months, making it a priority. Now, she logs about 10 to 12 miles a week.

Her next goal? To start weight and resistance workouts (which, health experts stress, is another key ingredient to help stave off bone loss).

It’s a definite shift for the busy mother, who acknowledged that it’s difficult to juggle work and mom duties to begin with – let alone working in the regular exercise routine. But she came to the realization that if she didn’t start making changes, she just wouldn’t feel well mentally or physically, and, also, she may not live as long. Additionally, her whole family is making an effort to eat better.

Now, Keim enjoys both the physical and mental benefits of regular exercise – and especially the “just me” time.

“I miss it when I don’t work out,” she said. “I didn’t think that would ever happen.”

Health Screenings

(UNDER NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES)

• Physical exam every one to two years

• Height and weight at each physical

• Pelvic exam yearly

• Pap test every three years

• HPV test every three years

• Blood pressure every two years

• Cholesterol screening every four to five years

• Dental exam every six to 12 months; floss daily

• Chlamydia test if you have new or multiple partners

• HIV or other STD tests, discuss with your healthcare provider

• Thyroid test after 35

Immunizations

• Flu shot every flu season

• Tetanus, diphtheria booster every 10 years

• Chicken pox if you never had chicken box or vaccine

Skin cancer in your 30s

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is on the rise in women, and 25 percent of those cases occur before age 40. See a dermatologist once a year for a full-body screening. And every couple of months, do a mirror check for moles that are asymmetrical, have irregular borders, change in color, or are larger than a pencil eraser.

Health Tips

Metabolism begins to slow down around age 35. You may find yourself gaining weight when you’re still eating what you always did.

No time to exercise? Wear a pedometer and set some goals. See how the steps can add up if you park farther away from your destinations or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Don’t just sing along with your favorite song, dance to it!

Women generally start to lose bone in their mid-30s, which puts them at risk of osteoporosis or brittle bones later in life.

Weight-bearing exercises can help maintain bone strength. Recommendations from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons for activities that can help build strong bones:

• Brisk walking, jogging, and hiking

• Yard work such as pushing a lawnmower and heavy gardening

• Team sports, such as soccer, baseball, and basketball

• Dancing, step aerobics, and stair climbing

• Tennis and other racquet sports

• Skiing, skating, karate, and bowling

• Weight training with free weights or machines

Strength training can help prevent muscle loss as well as build bone mass, help you burn calories, and maintain a healthy weight

Are you juggling being a wife, mother, and career woman? Be on guard for signs of stress and/or depression.

Women suffer from depression twice as frequently as men.

Symptoms of Depression

• Feeling sad, anxious, or “empty”

• Feeling hopeless

• Loss of interest in hobbies and activities that you once enjoyed

• Decreased energy

• Difficulty staying focused, remembering, making decisions

• Sleeplessness, early morning awakening, or oversleeping and not wanting to get up

• No desire to eat and weight loss or eating to “feel better” and weight gain

• Thoughts of hurting yourself

• Thoughts of death or suicide

• Easily annoyed, bothered, or angered

• Constant physical symptoms that do not get better with treatment, such as headaches, upset stomach, and pain that doesn’t go away

Sleep Problems?

Keep things dark if you want a good night’s sleep. Exposure to artificial light – from your TV, computer, iPad, cell phone – lowers melatonin production, which, in turn, disrupts your sleep cycle.Sleep tips from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School

• maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule

• avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other chemicals that interfere with sleep

• make your bedroom a comfortable sleep environment

• establish a calming pre-sleep routine

• go to sleep when you’re truly tired

• use light to your advantage by exposing yourself to light during the day and limiting light exposure in the evening

Julie Keim

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