What a great day to celebrate the wonderful women in this world!

What does it mean to take care of ourselves? It means taking time to relax, spending time with friends, taking a long walk, reading a good book, watching your favorite show, hugging your spouse or your kids. It means being kind to our body, through nutrition, fitness, and emotional health and doing the things that make you feel good on the inside and out. More often than not, women focus on taking care of everyone else around them, thinking that taking care of themselves is too much. I’m here to tell you that it’s not! As women, we have many roles, mother, daughter, sister, friend, coworker, coach, teacher, and the list goes on. It’s imperative that we focus more closely on our own health and wellness so that we can continue taking care of the people who are important to us.

Let’s talk about how we can take care of ourselves throughout the stages of our lives.

Let’s start with our roaring 20’s…

Biologically we experience the beautiful peaking of our bodies. Because of our age, we recover more quickly from some of the bad habits that we may have picked up along the way like drinking alcohol, eating processed foods and sugar, or skipping exercise. It’s a great time to build bone, muscle and connective tissue and to begin to ward of age related changes like osteoporosis with regular weight bearing exercise and essential vitamins and minerals like calcium, folate, and iron. Hormonally, we are most fertile in our 20’s. These nutrients are also necessary during this time to help our babies develop strong, healthy bones and to protect against neural tube defects. There are a variety of super foods that contain all three including broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus, beans, kale, and spinach. Start building your nutrition and exercise routine in your 20’s and it will help you to develop habits that will lead you to a lifetime of good health.

Moving onto 30 and 40 something…

In our 30’s & 40’s, our bodies are undergoing small changes that may or may not make us feel good. If you are an active and mindful person, you may be adjusting your exercise and nutrition plan as you find that what always worked before, isn’t working so great now. Metabolism begins to slow down making weight control more difficult and zapping us of some of that energy that we had in our 20’s. It’s easier now to pack on pounds and harder to get them off so No More Midnight Binging! Reducing your daily caloric intake by 7 calories per day for each year after the age of 30 helps to maintain weight. Adding quick interval exercises to increase metabolism can help to lose weight. Research shows that quick interval workouts are more beneficial than long workouts. Life is busier than ever, so Isn’t that great news?

Damage from free radicals increases in our 30’s & 40’s. Free radicals are thought to increase the aging process and promote chronic diseases such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, degenerative diseases of the eyes, and arthritis. Adding foods rich in magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin E can help to fight free radicals, so grab a handful of almonds or sunflower seeds, have an avocado, and eat your spinach!

To our 50’s and beyond…

Rapid bone loss starts to take place as our estrogen levels begin to drop. Women especially need to increase calcium and vitamin D and add weight bearing exercise to help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin D is made by sun exposure to the skin so don’t be afraid to get a little sun (but be careful not to over do it!) and add those calcium rich foods like green veggies and low fat dairy. VItamin B12 is needed for red blood cell and nerve health. Foods rich in vitamin B12 include dairy, eggs, meat, fish, and fortified cereals. Some older adults don’t absorb nutrients from food as well as others so adding a daily multiple vitamin may be something to consider.

Exercise is always recommended, regardless of age. It’s important for your health and overall wellbeing. 30 minutes of moderate paced exercise every day can help to reduce weight, improve sleep, increase energy, reduce cholesterol, improve heart health, reduce signs and symptoms of arthritis, improve symptoms of anxiety and depression and many more benefits too numerous to list. As women, we need to take care of ourselves in order to take care of our loved ones! Please don’t wait to start taking care of your health...start today!

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