How to Handle Being 40
In line with June's ‘Fit at 40’, theme, we hear from Shape Middle East’s contributing health psychologist Dr Melanie C. Schlatter, PhD. As a registered Dubai licensed health psychologist, Melanie specialises in helping people to overcome health-related psychological issues and this month, offers some sound advice for taking on your 40’s with the right attitude.
There is no age that is more crucial to another in terms of the benefits of exercise and regular movement, however, as we get older; it is undeniable that we need to sustain momentum, when the likelihood of more observable body and mind changes can take place. Around the age of 40, several physical and cognitive changes may be apparent — especially if you have a history of little to no exercise.
*Higher blood pressure and blood sugars, decreased metabolism, and faster propensity for weight gain resulting in chronic illnesses such as obesity and diabetes
*Loss of bone density or muscle weakness leading to mobility and pain issues
*Hormonal dysregulation through irregular periods, the onset of menopause, or late childbearing
*Sleep difficulties, concentration and memory problems, and lack of energy
*And the visible (often distressing) appearance of age — lines and wrinkles on the face and neck due to the loss of skin elasticity and collagen breakdown; loss of muscle tone and definition on arms and legs; incorrect posture, stiffness, skin discolouration and age spots.
Women in this particular age bracket may also have combined responsibilities or worries about children (young or perhaps leaving home), elderly parents, and extended families; they may have highly stressful jobs or expectations on them as a wife, mother, or working woman; and they may have started to experience stressful events such as divorce, mid-life crisis, or the death of loved ones or friends through illness or age.
Unfortunately, any physical, cognitive, or life related problems can cause the onset of, or exacerbate, the psychological ones. Indeed, as a result of the above, you could sustain:
High levels of stress, worry and rumination; depression; anxiety (including increased perfectionist and obsessive tendencies); anger; an increase in addictive behaviours; and problems with body image, intimacy, self-esteem, and self-confidence.
On the other hand, some women accept their age as a positive milestone—a mark of how far they have come and how they have matured, and for many, a release of the stresses and insecurity of youth. Therefore, exercising—because of its positive effects on the mind, body, and immune system, has never been more important if you desire, or want to maintain, the following:
To be happy and be able to take an optimistic stance in life; to be able to cope with stress more easily; to have energy, endurance, and get things done faster (e.g. not wasting valuable time being sick, sore, or lethargic); enhanced concentration, motivation, focus, creativity, problem solving and clarity; less worry and sadness; the ability to breathe, move, sleep easily and simply do more; the ease to make more healthy lifestyle choices; the joy of looking good; a better social and personal life; the confidence to be around anyone and be proud of who you are and what you look like; and the ability to set bigger and better personal goals.
Naturally, if you continue to ignore exercise as a priority in your life, then you will have more rapid aging and related adverse effects, and less probability of reversing the consequences or healing faster—whether they are physical or psychological. You may also need to start saving money, because hospitals are far more expensive than gym memberships!
In conclusion, the benefits of exercising, even starting to exercise at this age, clearly outweigh the negatives.