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Perils of turning 40

High cholesterol, blood pressure, professional challenges… what more does one need to manage life after 40?

Perils of turning 40

At 40, it’s time to take health seriously, rethinks stubborn habits, and chart a plan for life. Your body starts showing physiological and hormonal changes. Much more effort is needed to remain fit. The remedies that worked for you earlier become ineffective – and meaningless!

Ali Dar at age 46 is diabetic and takes regular medicines to maintain his insulin levels. He goes to public parks to exercise and hardly ever skips his fitness routine. Still, he is gaining weight, mostly around his belly. His blood sugar levels and blood pressure are going haywire too.

Belonging to a Kashmiri family extremely passionate about food, he relishes high-cholesterol, high-protein and greasy foods. Usually, to control damage, he takes a double dose of medicine and extends his exercise regime.

So, it’s clear that once you pass the 40-year mark, you must alter your habits. Like, incorporate exercise in daily life – make the physical effort to answer the knock on the door, use stairs instead of elevators

But, this formula does not work the way you think it does, his doctor told him. The doctor informed him that with age metabolic rate slows down which makes it hard to burn calories with exercise. The key, he said, is to eat well and forget that with exercise you can counter dietary violations.

This is not to minimise the effect of exercise. In fact, exercise is vital to a healthy lifestyle, a natural cure for stress and depression. Researchers say regular walk can take people off medicine prescribed for depression as it produces feel-good chemicals in the body. Similarly, it improves blood flow, intake of oxygen and cardiovascular activity.

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Additionally, resistance exercises involving weights helps build muscle mass – which starts decreasing at a considerable speed around age 40. Loss of muscle mass intensifies ageing and causes skin to sags.

Nutritionist Dr Munib Razzaq, Director Razzaq Hospital in Lahore says like any machine human body too undergoes depreciation with age. This, he adds, “is described as a biological decline in medical science and in 40s it becomes obvious.”

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Apart from biological reasons, financial pressures, socio-cultural obligations, responsibilities at home and office, concerns about future etc. cause stress among 40-plus people. This makes them hypertensive, diabetic and patients of heart diseases and high cholesterol. Therefore, stress management becomes an important part of life.

This is also the time their children are attaining maturity and parents are ageing. Women, as caregivers, feel additional pressure, which affects their diet and exercise.

Babar Ali, a psychologist, spiritual healer, and motivational speaker, points out that in 40s people stop living their own life and become concerned about their children and parents who need costly medical care and attention. “Concerns about how to manage expenses for children’s education and savings for their weddings also take a heavy toll on their physical and mental health.”

To meet the ever-increasing financial needs, people after 40 do multiple jobs and businesses and cut on expenditures at the cost of their own health. “My advice to such people is to take some time out, connect with nature and forget their worries for some time. They should realise that they can meet these challenges if they remain alive and functional.”

So, it’s clear that once you pass the 40-year mark, you must alter your habits. Like, incorporate exercise in daily life – make the physical effort to answer the knock on the door, use stairs instead of elevators, minimise the use of remote control while watching tv, walk to colleagues’ desks instead of contacting them via intercom, walk to the nearby store instead of commuting on vehicles and so on. Equally important is to avoid eating out and unhealthy food offered at weddings.

Dr Khalid Jamil, former head of Rehabilitation Department at Mayo Hospital Lahore, believes one-size-fits-all lifestyle is not workable. He insists people who have lived 40 years of life must get diagnostic tests done to have a custom-made diet and health plan. “Risks increase at this age due to decline in hormones, such as androgens and estrogens in males and females.”

Shahzada Irfan Ahmed

shahzada irfan
The author is a staff reporter and can be reached at shahzada.irfan@gmail.com

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