For many women, turning 30 marks the real beginning of adulthood. You're established in a career, and maybe in a relationship. You might be thinking about starting a family. You feel pretty good about yourself, and all the health indiscretions of your 20s (remember those all-night parties and how you still managed to make it into work the next day?) haven't taken much of a health toll.
But let's face it, ages 30 to 39 are prime time. All in all, the 30s are a very positive time for health, but it's also the time you have to start developing excellent habits as an investment in the future, says Dr. Debra DeJoseph, medical director of The Women's Health Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio.
In other words, the healthy lifestyle habits you ignore now could set the stage for a less than healthy life in your 40s and beyond.
Here are few of the biggest health mistakes to avoid in your 30s.
1. You don't think about exercise.
Although aerobic exercise is one of the best things you can do for your cardiovascular health, and some studies show it may reduce your risk of Alzheimer's and some forms of cancer, women in their 30s should make time for strength training too.
At about age 30, even if you're active, humans begin losing muscle mass. If you live a completely sedentary lifestyle, you can lose as much as 5 percent of your muscle mass every decade after age 30.
To help keep muscles strong and functioning well, women should incorporate strength training into their exercise regimens.
2. Slow up in metabolism rate
An extra bonus of strength training is burning calories, which increases your metabolism. It seems that as we age, metabolism does slow down for various reasons, including genetics, hormones, and diet, to name a few. Add into the mix the fact that body fat increases after age 30, with fat accumulating around the middle, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Although the metabolic slow-down in your 30s isn't huge, if you don't take steps to rev it up, you could potentially pack on double-digit pounds as you age.
Keep your metabolism perky with strength training. It not only burns calories, but it increases the percentage of muscle mass in your body which boosts your metabolism in the long-term. Also, make fruits and vegetables about 70 percent of your diet.
3. Ignoring fertility.
Peak fertility for women is when they are in their 20s.
Very simply, age is a factor when it comes to fertility. The older you are, the tougher it is to conceive, and there is a gradual decline in fertility for women, starting at about age 32, which takes a sharper drop when a woman reaches about age 37.
In general, women don't understand the decline in fertility and they put off child bearing thinking they have plenty of time but peak fertility for women is when they're in their twenties.
To be clear, pregnancy is "absolutely not impossible" in the 30s, and many women will get pregnant; however, women in their 30s to be mindful of fertility.
4. You don't see your doctor.
Regardless of your age, get a blood pressure screening every one to two years.
We know you're busy, but it's important to make time for screening for a variety of problems that are "silent" like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Ideally, women should start being screened in their 20s. But if you don't know your cholesterol numbers by now, make the time to schedule a lipid panel screening, which includes total cholesterol levels and you don't have to have another test for about five years. But if your numbers aren't so good, you and your doctor can work out a plan that includes diet, exercise, weight loss, and sometimes, medication.
Women should also consistently have a breast exam once a year. Also get a thyroid scan. That weight you're gaining may be from Hashimoto's disease or other health issues, so it's important to always stay ahead when it comes to your health.
5. You still act like a teenager.
The use of sunscreen is a must as you grow older because your skin is fragile and cannot upkeep from the Ultra Violet rays. Don't forget about sunscreen, ever. Sun damage, wrinkles, and dullness may not show up until your forties, but remember that every day counts in reducing cumulative ultraviolet radiation damage to cells and connective tissue. Don't forget to apply sunscreen to your neck and chest, too.
Don't think you're too young for skin cancer. Familiarize yourself with skin cancer symptoms, and see your doctor if you notice suspicious moles or skin changes.
6. You smoke.
Many women still light up, whether it's to reduce stress or try to maintain weight. Although women are not as likely to smoke as men, about 18 percent of women ages 25 to 44 are smoking, according to the American Cancer Society.
Smoking affects everything from your ability to conceive, the health of a fetus and, of course, your health even if you don't want to get pregnant, the earlier you quit, the better your health. A 2012 study of some one million women published in The Lancet showed that quitting smoking before age 40 avoids more than 90% of the excess mortality caused by continuing smoking. So, if you're still smoking, it seems that right now, today, is a great time to quit.
7. Not making sleep a priority
Like your cell phone, your body and brain need time to reboot and recharge. Adults 18 to 64 require about 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Skimping on shuteye does a number to your health, including raising your risk of hypertension, stroke, and obesity. It may also be a factor in depression, and there's evidence that being sleep deprived promotes biological aging, making you look older than you are.
When it comes to health, it's very important to always be aware, adopt a healthy living lifestyle and avoid staying ignorant about your health. As a woman, you owe it to yourself, family and this world to stay alive and be able to achieve your purpose on earth. One of the best ways you can do this is by staying healthy and controlling your health before it gets out of hand.