Dear 30-something: Congratulations! You have successfully arrived at full-blown adulthood. Your brain is finally done developing. You have moments of real wisdom. Sometimes, you even make responsible choices.
Speaking of which.
“The 30s are a key decade for building healthy habits,” says Shehrose Chaudry, MD, an internal medicine expert at St. Vincent’s Health & Wellness Center in Milford.
Here are seven health tips for your 30s to focus on now, so that future you will thank you later.
1. Find an exercise you enjoy.
The best exercise is the kind you actually stick with. Ballroom dancing? Pickleball? Possibilities abound. During your 30s, explore your options.
“Find something that you enjoy and create an exercise regimen that suits you,” says Dr. Chaudry. “Try for 30 minutes a day, five days a week of moderate aerobic activity.”
2. Rethink what you eat.
If you get cozy with the healthy sections of the grocery store now, it’ll pay off in years to come. You know the drill: Strive for a balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fish and lean meats.
Sound complicated? Here’s a simpler way to think of it.
“Avoid heavily processed foods,” says Dr. Chaudry. “And stay hydrated!”
3. Drink less alcohol.
Does your local liquor store start worrying if you haven’t swung by in a few days?
See if you can make them miss you more — by drinking less. Excessive alcohol use is linked to serious health problems, from high blood pressure to cancer.
“For the general population, men should have less than 14 drinks per week, and women should have less than seven drinks per week,” says Dr. Chaudry.
4. Get to the bottom of sleep issues.
In your 30s, sleep may seem like an afterthought to an afterthought. But ignoring it can lead directly to health trouble, from weight gain to heart problems to depression.
Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night, and if you have issues like snoring or nightmares, talk to your doctor now.
“The sooner you treat sleep conditions, the better for your physical and mental health,” says Dr. Chaudry.
5. Visit your primary care provider regularly.
Maybe you still feel invincible. Good for you! Your primary care provider (PCP) is here to keep it that way.
“I think the value of a general check-up can go under-noticed by the younger population,” says Dr. Chaudry. “A simple reminder from your PCP to eat healthy, or having your blood pressure checked, can go a long way.”
6. Don’t forget your eyes and teeth.
Yes, it means a couple extra appointments each year. But keeping up with your dentist and eye doctor can mean the difference between simple interventions and lifelong problems.
Plus, research has linked gum disease to many illnesses, from heart disease to rheumatoid arthritis. And vision problems can be clues of underlying problems like diabetes or stroke.
7. The most important health tips for your 30s: Start small, and stay consistent.
A little is better than nothing — and sooner is better than later.
“Whether it’s passing on a candy bar or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, with consistency, even small changes can lead to big improvements in health,” says Dr. Chaudry.
So put all that hard-earned wisdom to work and get started now. Your future self will reach back through the decades to high-five you.