Tips for Staying Healthy in Your 30s

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By the time we'™re in our 30s, most of us are well on our way along the life path we'™ve chosen—€”hard-working, independent adults. With a little luck, we'™re enjoying good health and happiness—€”relatively untouched by the normal effects of aging we'™ll face a bit further down the road. Oh sure, we may notice a few gray hairs, a slightly-receding hairline, or a couple extra pounds, and we might just feel an unfamiliar ache or pain after overdoing it, or realize it'™s getting harder and harder to read that small print...but our 30s can be the prime years of our lives!

However, many of us get so involved with our careers and our families in our 30s, that we neglect our own health. The responsibilities and busy schedules of everyday life can make it difficult for us to maintain a healthy balance, but taking good care of ourselves—€”body, mind and spirit—€”becomes more and more important as we age. By making good lifestyle choices in our 30s, we can help reduce our risk for chronic health problems and improve our chances for a long, healthy life.

Good Health in Your 30s—€”A Healthy Lifestyle

Maintain a healthy weight. Metabolism slows down with age and beginning in our 30s, losing weight is often more difficult—€”especially for women. But being overweight or obese increases our risk for chronic medical conditions, like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and certain types of cancer, and can have a negative impact on our daily lives.

To feel our best in our 30s, it'€™s important to eat a healthy diet, including plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein and low- or nonfat dairy products. Essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, such as iron, folic acid, calcium, potassium, B vitamins, vitamin D, fiber and healthy omega-3 fats, can help ensure good health in our 30s and beyond. It'€™s also important to limit our intake of processed foods and fast foods, take steps to reduce the amount of sodium (salt) in our diet, and follow a health care provider'€™s recommendations for taking vitamin and/or mineral supplements.

Find time to exercise regularly. Most of us know that regular exercise has a number of health benefits. It can help us look and feel better, improve our mood, and lower our risk for heart disease, certain types of cancer (including breast cancer) and osteoporosis (bone loss). But actually making time for exercise can be difficult.

To get the recommended amount of exercise in our 30s—€”30–60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week—€”it can be helpful to find an activity or two we enjoy doing. Aerobic weight-bearing exercise like brisk walking, jogging and dancing, and biking, swimming, hiking or playing tennis are good options. Strength training (e.g., lifting weights) a few times a week can help boost metabolism and also help prevent osteoporosis. Exercising with a family member or a friend can make us more likely to stick with it.

Get enough sleep. There'€™s no doubt about it—€”juggling the demands of being a "€œthirty-something" today can be difficult—€”for many of us, there just never seems to be enough hours in a day. Oftentimes, the first thing we sacrifice as we lead our hectic lives is a good night'€™s sleep. But most people need about 6–8 hours of sleep each night to function at their best and sleep deprivation can cause a number of health problems. It'€™s important to take steps to make sure we'€™re getting enough sleep. Practice good sleep hygiene and if you can, try taking a 20–30 minute nap in the afternoon—€”you'€™ll be surprised how refreshing it can be!

Preventing Health Problems in Your 30s

Take the following steps to help reduce your risk for illness and live well in your 30s and beyond:

  • Do not smoke or use tobacco products. Quitting smoking is one of the most beneficial ways to improve your health.
  • Protect yourself from the damaging effects of the sun. Wear sunscreen daily and whenever you spend time in the sun to help prevent skin cancer and premature aging of the skin.
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation, if at all (no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 per day for women).
  • Avoid illegal drugs and substances.
  • Use prescription and over-the-counter drugs only as directed.
  • Reduce stress. Make time for yourself and for relationships that are important to you. Balance your responsibilities with things you enjoy and never underestimate the value of a relaxing bath or a short walk!
  • Monitor your body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and cholesterol levels and keep them within a healthy range.
  • Follow your health care provider'€™s recommendations for diagnostic tests and screening procedures. Ask about ways to stay healthy and how to prevent common chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis (bone loss).

Preventing Accidental Injuries in Your 30s

Follow common sense safety precautions at home, at work and at play. The following measures can help reduce your risk for injuries:

  • Make sure your home has working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor and in every bedroom. Follow directions for heating and cooling your home and for running a generator safely.
  • Always wear your seat belt. Obey the speed limit and all traffic laws—€”including those regarding cell phone use while driving.
  • Never drink and drive or ride with an impaired driver.
  • If you ride a bicycle, motorcycle or recreational vehicle, be sure to wear a helmet.
  • Resist the urge to be a "€œweekend warrior."€ Cramming a week'€™s worth of recreational activities, yard work or household chores into just two days can lead to overuse injuries.
  • Use care to reduce your risk for accidental drowning and other water-related injuries.
  • Follow safety regulations at work.
  • Learn how to reduce your risk for violent crimes, including intimate partner violence, date/acquaintance rape and sexual assault.
  • Follow all firearm safety regulations.

Special Health Concerns in Your 30s

Take care of your sexual and reproductive health. By the time we reach our 30s, many of us are married or in a committed relationship, and if we haven’t started a family yet, we’ve at least given the matter a thought or two. Talk to your health care provider about safer sex and STD/HIV prevention, contraception, infertility, pregnancy and prenatal care.

Take care of your mental and emotional health. Many of us have an overwhelming amount of responsibility on our shoulders in our 30s—working long hours, maintaining our home, caring for our young children—and perhaps our aging parents as well. Talk to a qualified health care provider if you have concerns about your well-being or your ability to cope.

Take care of your skin. Skin care needs change as we age and many women (and men) in their 30s benefit from using a daily moisturizer as well as a gentle cleanser twice a day. Apply a sunscreen with a broad-spectrum SPF of at least 15 before you spend time in the sun.

Take care of your back. Back pain (especially low back pain) is one of the most common health problems—and reasons for missed work days—in adults. About 85 percent of people under the age of 50 report having at least one episode of back pain and more than 50 percent of those people experience a recurrence. Good posture, proper lifting techniques and strengthening exercises can help keep our backs healthy.

Build muscle. Beginning in our 30s, our bodies start to replace muscle with fat. Include regular weight-bearing and strength-training work-outs in your exercise program to help prevent—and even reverse this process.

Don't be shy—talk to your health care provider about any health concerns you have—especially if you notice a new symptom or one that does not resolve as expected. Remember, you are your own best advocate when it comes to your health.

Routine Health Care Recommendations in Your 30s

Follow your health care providers’ recommendations for preventive care and screenings in your 30s. The recommendations vary according to several factors, such as your family and personal medical history and your age, overall health and personal risk factors. In general, you should have a medical check-up about every 1 to 2 years.

At each appointment, your health care provider will perform a physical exam and check your height, weight, body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure. He or she may ask about lifestyle factors, including nutrition, physical activity, tobacco and alcohol use and sexual health, and may perform additional screening tests. Many health care providers also ask about mental and emotional health, for example, whether you are depressed, feel threatened in any way, or are being abused.

Women in their 30s should have a gynecological exam, clinic breast exam and Pap test as recommended and should speak with their health care provider before becoming pregnant. Men should have a clinical testicular exam as recommended.

Other aspects of routine health care in your 30s include the following:

  • Dental exam and cleaning every 6 to 12 months, or as recommended
  • Comprehensive eye exam and vision screening, every 1 to 2 years, or as recommended
  • Hearing test, as recommended
  • Cholesterol screening, as recommended
  • Skin cancer screening, as recommended
  • Recommended immunizations, which may include a yearly influenza {flu) vaccine, hepatitis vaccines, HPV vaccine, MMR, meningococcal vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine, tetanus and varicella (chickenpox)

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at Healthcommunities.com

Published: 09 Jul 2012

Last Modified: 10 Jul 2012