With the new year fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to check in and review some essential healthy habits for women over 40.
If you are a woman 40 or older, it’s never been more important to focus on health and wellness to stay strong and healthy and avoid chronic diseases.
Keeping up with the long list of do’s and don’ts can be overwhelming, to say the least.
But if we learn to adapt healthy choices into healthy habits, then living a healthy lifestyle will start to run like clockwork or autopilot, and that’s when the magic happens!
Want to live a long, vital life? Let’s dive in!
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What is a healthy habit?
A healthy or good habit is a behavior beneficial to one’s physical or mental health, typically acquired through continual practice.
How long does it take to develop a healthy habit?
It typically takes around 66 days, or just over two months, to develop a new habit.
While it may vary depending on the person, breaking a bad habit usually takes longer than developing a new, healthy one.
This is because we typically have to unlearn the bad behavior before substituting it with a healthier one.
How to Develop Healthy Habits
While our intentions may be good, we often make resolutions for things like exercising and losing weight without taking steps toward success- which is why new habits don’t stick!
This has been my struggle off and on for years.
And over the years, I have read several books on creating new habits. Recently I read Atomic Habits by James Clear, and I gotta say, this book resonated with me!
If you are interested in developing new healthy habits, I highly suggest you pick up a copy of Atomic habits (it’s a quick read) and look at his blog articles on habits.
In the meantime, let’s push on.
Healthy Habits for Women Lead to Longevity.
There is abundant research showing that healthy lifestyle habits lead to healthier longevity.
If we make healthy choices and live a healthy lifestyle, we will look better, feel better and live longer!
And here’s the thing, women over 40 are especially susceptible to health risks, so we need to take proactive steps to maintain our health.
Proactive is the keyword here. We’ve got to be proactive so that we (God willing) don’t have to be reactive.
Ok! Without further ado, here are the 12+ healthy habits for women over 40.
12+ Healthy Habits for Women over 40
1. You are what you eat.
A healthy diet is number one on the list for a good reason. We’ve all heard the saying, “you are what you eat.” And it’s so true!
A nutritious diet helps reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and more!
The American Cancer Society recommends eating mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains, less red meat, less processed meat, and fewer sweets to lower the risk of breast cancer.
A healthy diet helps keep bones and muscles strong, maintains mental health and cognitive function, and supports a healthy weight.
Healthy Eating Habits for Women Over 40:
To ensure you get the nutrients you need, eat various food, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, while avoiding processed foods, sugar, red meat, and unhealthy fats.
Here are a few healthy eating tips:
- Check fiber intake– This is a biggie! According to Mayo Clinic, women should try to eat at least 21 to 25 grams of fiber daily.
- Avoid obvious junk food- Keep healthy snacks on hand, clean all junk out of the house, and don’t skip healthy meals.
- Limit Sugar- The American Heart Association recommends less than 6 teaspoons daily.
- Create a healthy meal plan– This meal plan lays out a week of healthy, easy recipes that simplify life and increase your intake of healthy foods.
- Listen to your body– Practicing mindful eating is important to the eating right puzzle. Check out this article about how listening to our bodies is vital to good health.
- Portion control is key. Controlling portions can be very helpful in weight lose. Learn more here.
- Drink the darn water! Staying hydrated is uber important to a healthy lifestyle across the board.
2. Hydrate thy body.
One of the most important healthy habits for women is to stay hydrated. (fair warning, you will see this at least 50 more times throughout this article. It’s just that important!)
Drinking enough fluids helps to keep the body functioning properly and can help to prevent dehydration, which can lead to serious health complications. (source)
Here are some tips to stay hydrated:
- Start the day off right! Drink a full glass of water first thing each morning.
- Eat foods that contain water, such as fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can dehydrate the body.
- Increase fluids when exercising or in hot weather.
- Check your urine color to make sure you’re drinking enough fluids. If it’s not clear, you need more water!
3. Move it or Loss it
Making it a habit to find body movement daily is vital (stretching, yoga, walking, etc.), combined with regular aerobic exercise and strength training at least 3 days per week or 150 minutes per week.
Exercise has numerous benefits for overall health, including reducing the risk of chronic diseases, improving mental and cognitive function, maintaining a healthy weight, and improving bone and muscle health.
According to the American heart association, Women over 40 should aim for regular physical activity of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week.
Some examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activity include walking, hiking, swimming, power yoga, biking, and more.
In addition to aerobic activity, women over 40 should also do strength training exercises two or three times per week.
Strength training or weight lifting helps maintain muscle mass, improve bone density, and reduce the risk of injuries.
4. Get Your Beauty Sleep
Another one of the uber-important healthy habits for women is to get adequate sleep!
Sleep is critical for overall health and well-being. It helps to reduce stress, improve mental health and cognitive function, and support a healthy immune system.
According to The National Sleep Foundation, Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
To ensure that they are getting enough rest, women over 40 should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night and create a bedtime routine to promote healthy sleep hygiene.
Healthy Sleep Habits for Women:
Healthy sleep habits or good sleep hygiene help to reduce stress and improve health and quality of life.
Sleep hygiene is a catchall term for habits and behaviors that influence sleep.
Practicing healthy sleep hygiene can improve the ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and have good quality sleep. Likewise, poor sleep hygiene can hurt sleep quality and duration.
Good Sleep Hygiene Habits:
- Establish a regular sleep schedule
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed
- Create a solid bedtime routine
- Keep your room cool and comfy
- Limit screen time before bed
- Avoid eating late in the evening
- Get adequate exercise daily.
- Try Mediating before bed
- Sleep in a dark room or use a sleep mask
- Consider wearing eye plugs if necessary.
5. Reduce Stress
Stress is a killer y’all! (Source)
It can lead to mental and physical health problems, including anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
that said, you’ve got to make it a priority to keep stress levels low.
Practicing healthy coping mechanisms such as exercise, journaling, deep breathing, meditation, and leisure time can help.
Healthy Habits to Help Lower Stress:
- Avoid stressful situations when possible. i.e., traffic, crowded places, etc.
- Talk to someone. Talk to a trusted friend or therapist about your feelings and perhaps brainstorm helpful ideas to manage negative emotions, worry, etc.
- Get Outside. The fresh air and sunlight will do you good.
- Try Journaling– I do morning pages, and I love it! Journaling can help process feelings and emotions. Just getting it all out on paper will make you feel better. Try it.
- Avoid toxic people like the plague. Sorry, not sorry. 🙂
- Practice Gratitude Daily– Gratitude changes everything!
- Get better sleep. Do whatever it takes to get better sleep. It’s THAT important!
- Do what you love, love what you do– If you hate your job, get another one. If you feel bored, take up a new hobby (or two). Life is too short. There is no time like NOW.
6. Maintain a healthy weight
Weight is a common health concern for women over 40.
I have been struggling with my weight since I suffered a knee injury, and of course, like many people, I put on a few extra lbs during Covid. #2020
That said, being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Weight gain also contributes to joint pain, sleep apnea, and other health problems, so it’s pretty darn important to get to a healthy weight and maintain a healthy weight.
Healthy Habits to Maintain a Healthy Weight:
- Eat a healthy diet avoiding sugar. Sugar is from the devil. LOL. 🙂
- Exercise regularly. Even a little body movement daily helps.
- Don’t “diet.” Avoid crash diets and fad diets, and yo-yo dieting.
- Monitor portion sizes. Correct portion sizes are smaller than you would think.
- Don’t eat late at night. Eat dinner earlier in the evening and avoid late-night snacking.
- Practice mindful eating. Listen to your body. It knows.
- Have annual blood tests. Be sure to check for diabetes and low hormone levels, which can both lead to weight issues and the dreaded belly fat. UGH.
- Supplement your diet. Take the right supplements for your age. Make sure your vitamin D levels are ok. Many women over 40 are low on vitamin D.
- Keep cortisol levels in check. High cortisol levels cause a ton of health problems. Please read this article to learn more about cortisol and how to lower it.
It’s more than worth the 3-minute read.
7. Create and maintain a positive social life
One of the most important things women over 40 can do for their health is to create and maintain a support network, including family, friends, coworkers, and people in your community.
A strong social network can help reduce stress, improve mental health, and strengthen your community.
Here are some ideas to help strengthen social network:
- Stay in touch with family and friends. Purposely set aside time to connect with your tribe.
- Make time for social activities. Consider hosting game nights or monthly meetups with friends.
- Find like-minded people. Join a book club, bunko night, take a class or join a church group.
- Volunteer your time. You’d be surprised by the people you’ll meet, and it feels good to help!
- Get involved in community events. Look online to search for community events in your area.
8. Don’t smoke, + limit alcohol consumption.
Healthy habits aren’t just things on a TO-DO-LIST. Sometimes being healthy is about WHAT NOT TO DO. as in, don’t smoke and don’t drink too much. 🙂
If you haven’t heard the news, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and is linked to numerous health risks, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung disease.
Excessive alcohol consumption
Drinking too much alcohol harms health and can lead to chronic diseases such as liver disease, cancer, and heart disease.
9. Have regular checkups
Regular check-ups help to identify health problems early when they are most treatable.
During a check-up, your doctor should always review medical history, check current weight and perform a physical exam, including taking vitals, blood pressure, breast exam, pelvic exam, and more.
Your healthcare provider should order blood work and diagnostic testing and review current medications and concerns.
Remember: You must be an advocate for your health!
You must be well informed about health issues and always double-check your doctor’s recommendations, including meditations.
Consider getting a second opinion if you feel something could be off or if there is a new diagnosis. Your health and wellness are too important. Do your due diligence.
10. Annual Health Screenings
Full blood panel Women over 40 should have a full panel done annually, including cholesterol, hormone levels, and a fasting glucose test.
Pap and human papillomavirus (HPV) tests. This test looks for pre- or early cervical cancer and the HPV virus.
Mammogram. The current recommendation is to get your first mammogram starting at age 40, and to get screened annually after that.
Skin check. Full body yearly skin exams with your dermatologist should begin at age 40.
Colonoscopy. This test helps find and removes symptom-less polyps that can develop into colon cancer.
Start colonoscopy screening between ages 45 to 50. The results will determine when you will need your next colonoscopy. If everything is clear, it may be every ten years.
Bone density test. If you have a thin build or another serious risk factor, begin getting tested at age 50. Otherwise, the general guideline is to start by age 65.
Hearing test. Get your hearing tested every 10 years until age 50, then annually after age 60.
Eye exam. The recommended guideline for adults is every two years until age 60 unless there is a problem such as diabetes. Beginning at age 61, you should get an annual eye exam.
Blood pressure screening. High blood pressure is associated with heart disease, diabetes, and an increased potential for heart attack and stroke.
11. Maintain Healthy Oral Hygiene
Another important step women over 40 can take to maintain their health is to practice healthy oral hygiene.
Poor oral hygiene can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and other problems.
Practicing these healthy oral hygiene habits keeps teeth and gums healthy and avoids problems.
Healthy Oral Hygiene Habits:
- Brush teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss daily and consider using a Waterpik.
- See a dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.
- Don’t chew ice, Avoid tobacco use and limit sugar intake.
12. Self-Care for Mental Health
Self-care is an important part of maintaining healthy mental and emotional health.
Practice self-care by doing things such as journaling, meditating, practicing gratitude, and taking a break from things like the news and social media.
Healthy self-care habits for women:
Journaling can be a helpful way to process emotions and events. It can also help to reduce stress and improve mental health. Women over 40 can benefit from journaling as a way to care for themselves.
Meditation can help to reduce stress, improve mental health, and promote relaxation. Women over 40 can benefit from meditating as a form of self-care.
See my article, The benefits of meditation for women to learn more.
Practicing gratitude can help to improve mental health and overall well-being. Women over 40 can benefit from practicing gratitude as a form of self-care.
See my article, How to practice gratitude daily to learn more.
Consider breaking up with your cell phone at least once a week!
Spending less time on your phone and taking frequent breaks from all things digital such as tv (especially the news), social media games, and more.
By incorporating these self-care practices into their lives, women over 40 can improve their mental and physical health.
13. Get Your Hormones Balanced
After forty or so, many women experience a decline in their hormone levels.
This can lead to several symptoms, including lower energy levels, weight gain, and a decreased sex drive.
Women need to have their hormone levels checked and keep them in balance, which can help improve their quality of life.
Perimenopause and Menopause
Perimenopause and menopause can cause various changes in a woman’s body, including hot flashes, night sweats, low energy levels, vaginal dryness, and more.
While these changes can be disruptive, treatments are available to help manage them.
Thank you, Jesus! 🙂
Managing perimenopause and menopause :
As women approach menopause, it’s important to be proactive about managing one’s health.
This can be difficult for many women, but some things can be done to ease the transition and promote overall wellness.
First, it’s important to maintain healthy habits like eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
which can help with weight gain and fatigue.
Additionally, it’s important to stay informed about the changes that occur during this time and to seek medical help if necessary.
Tips for Managing Perimenopause and Menopause:
- Talk to your doctor. Seek professional guidance about your symptoms and treatment opinions such as hormone replacement therapy.
TIP: If you don’t feel heard or don’t get the help you are looking for, find another doctor!
- Consider hormone replacement therapy. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment option for women experiencing changes due to perimenopause and menopause.
HRT can help to reduce symptoms and improve overall health.
However, HRT is not right for everyone, and it has risks. Research BHRT or HRT and consult a healthcare professional specializing in women’s health.
- Eat healthy, exercise, and get good quality sleep.
- Supplements: Supplement a healthy diet with a multivitamin and other supplements (see below)
- Consider ways to treat symptoms naturally. This is a great article about how to treat hormone imbalances naturally.
- Reduce stress. Do whatever you must to keep stress down in your life.
14. Take Vitamins and Supplements
In addition to good nutrition, It’s a great idea to get into the habit of taking vitamins and supplements every day.
As we age, our bodies change, and we may not be able to get all of the nutrients we need from our diet. supplements can help fill in the gaps and ensure that we get the necessary nutrients.
Some supplements that women over 40 may need include:
According to the national institute for aging and prevention magazine, older women may need to take the following dietary vitamins and supplements.
- Calcium: Calcium works with vitamin D to keep bones strong at all ages. Bone loss can lead to fractures, especially in post-menopausal women.
- Vitamin D: Many people in the United States are low in vitamin D. Vitamin D helps protect against age-related changes that start to kick in.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and breast and colorectal cancers.
- Vitamin B6: This vitamin is needed to form red blood cells.
- Vitamin B12: This helps keep your red blood cells and nerves healthy. While older adults need just as much vitamin B12 as other adults, some have trouble absorbing the natural vitamin in food.
- Probiotics– Probiotics help with gut health and weight and can lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. (source)
- Beta-carotene: beta-carotene is found in fruits and veggies. Consider supplementing beta-carotene if you don’t eat enough veggies.
- Magnesium– Magnesium helps regulate blood pressure, which is especially important for women 40-plus who are already at risk of high blood pressure due to normal aging.
Magnesium deficiency has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and inflammation.
- Omega-3s- omega-3 fatty acids help counteract some negative changes that come with aging, like increased heart disease risk and cognitive decline.
Research has shown that omega-3s help lowers blood pressure and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart disease, and keep memory and thinking sharp.
15. Keep your mind sharp.
As we age, it’s important to keep our minds sharp. After all, mental decline is one of the most feared aspects of growing old.
Staying mentally active can help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Fortunately, there are several healthy habits that women can adopt to help keep their minds sharp as they age, including regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, getting good sleep, and staying mentally active.
Healthy Habits for staying mentally active:
- Stay Physically active. One of the most important things you can do is to stay physically active.
Exercise not only helps to maintain cognitive function, but it also helps to reduce the risk of conditions like depression and anxiety, which can lead to cognitive decline.
- Stay Social. Social interaction becomes more and more important as we get older. Having connections with others, as well as stimulating conversations, helps to keep our minds alive with new thoughts and ideas.
- Always be learning. It’s never too late to learn new things. Consider learning a new language or how to play a musical instrument, like the piano or guitar.
- Do brain puzzles. Brain puzzles help keep those juices flowing. I love cryptograms and Wordle.
- Engage in hobbies and interests. Having hobbies and interests that you are passionate about will help to keep your brain awake and alive!
16. Find passions + Hobbies.
In today’s fast-paced world, making time for hobbies and interests is more important than ever.
For women, this is especially important, as taking care of ourselves tends to fall by the wayside when we’re constantly giving our time and energy to others.
Pursuing activities we enjoy helps us stay motivated and focused on taking care of ourselves.
It can also provide a much-needed outlet for stress and allow us to express our creative side.
Whether taking up a new sport, picking up a musical instrument, or learning to paint, paint, or knit, making time for ourselves is essential for leading a healthy and balanced life.
Here are some tips for finding passions and hobbies:
- Take classes to learn new things.
- Join clubs and organizations that interest you.
- Explore different activities to find what you enjoy.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things.
17. Establish an anti-aging skincare routine
Establishing a skincare routine as you age is important because your skin changes and becomes more vulnerable to damage.
A good skincare routine can help to protect your skin against cancer while keeping it looking its best.
Healthy Anti-aging Skincare Tips:
- Cleanse your face every morning and every night. Use a gentle cleanse designed for your skin type.
- Exfoliate. Exfoliating the skin removes dead skin cells and reveals fresh new skin underneath.
- Use Anti-Aging serums and creams. Anti-aging serums like retinol and vitamin C are the gold standard in anti-aging skincare.
- Apply Sunscreen Daily. Always! I repeat, ALWAYS wear sunscreen.
- Get enough sleep and stay hydrated!
Related: 10+ Good Morning Routine Ideas
Conclusion: Healthy Habits for Women over 40
In conclusion, there are many important things women over 40 can do to stay healthy and live long and vital lives! Big things and little things.
I bet you noticed a few recurring themes throughout this article?! I know I did. 🙂
In addition to the biggies like keeping up with medical needs and diagnostic tests, the basic and repeating threads in this tapestry of healthy habits for women over 40 were eating right, exercising, getting good quality sleep, keeping stress low, and drinking plenty of water.
These simple habits sound simple enough. Still, developing new healthy habits and sticking with them can be challenging.
Remember, it’s important to have a plan in place.
It’s also a good idea to use habit trackers and apps to help guide and track progress, and you may want to consider having an accountability partner with the same goals as you to help keep each other on track.
As you move forward, give yourself grace (Rome wasn’t built in a day) and as you push past small goal markers, be sure to reward yourself to reinforce a job well done!
Thank you for reading! If you’ve got anything you want to share about your health journey or have any questions or comments, please drop a note in the comments below.
Until next time, be well.