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Top 6 Health Numbers To Know After Age 40

Top 6 Health Numbers To Know After Age 40

Our bodies are basically machines; the heart pumps blood through our veins, and our brains are like on-board computers, processing and storing information and monitoring our organs. So what happens as the machine ages?

Think about what happens when the hard drive of the computer you’ve had for seven years starts to make an alarming clunking noise or you’ve had to replace the brakes on your ten year-old car several times. The older the machinery gets, the more maintenance it requires.

Our bodies work much the same way. We often find ourselves obsessing a lot about age, making observations like “He’s pushing 40” or “she looks great for 75,” but age isn’t the only numeric indicator of health and longevity. HelloHeart, a company that manufactures a blood pressure monitoring app for smartphones, encourages everyone to learn about and keep an eye on key health-related numbers once you’ve passed 40, so whether you’re over the hill or puffing your way toward the crest of it, knowing these six numbers will help you to maintain your health.

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1. Blood Pressure

Your blood pressure is the number one indicator of how well your heart is functioning. Blood pressure refers to the pressure in your arteries as blood flows through them. The measurement consists of two numbers. The first number, systolic blood pressure, refers to the amount of pressure present when your heart beats. The second number, your diastolic blood pressure, refers to the amount of pressure present when the heart muscle relaxes between beats.

When your blood pressure reads as “120 over 80,” for instance, the top number refers to systolic pressure, and the bottom number refers to diastolic pressure. According to the American Heart Association, while posture and activity level can affect blood pressure, the systolic pressure reading should typically be below 120 and the diastolic below 80; 115 over 75 would be ideal. The AHA also reports that approximately one in three Americans has high blood pressure, and it’s recommended that you contact your physician if your systolic pressure exceeds 140 or your diastolic pressure reaches 90.

2. Resting heart rate

Remember that your blood pressure can fluctuate depending on posture or level of activity, so when you’re relaxing, so should your heart. As the term indicates, your resting heart rate should be less rapid than when you’re active; a healthy resting heart rate is approximately 6 beats per minute. Keeping in mind the above points about blood pressure, a rapidly beating heart while at rest can indicate high blood pressure.

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3. Cholesterol levels

Cholesterol levels measure the amount of fat in your blood. Like everything else, we need a certain amount of fat in the blood, but not too much. According to Jenna Lindsey Channell, you should avoid trans-fats and saturated fats. Unsaturated fats, however, are an important part of your diet because they’re required for absorbing certain vitamins like A, E, B, and K.

There are two types of cholesterol: LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein). LDL is the “bad fat”—essentially plaque in your arteries. When it builds up, it creates blockages that prevent blood from flowing and can lead to heart attacks and strokes. HDL is the “good fat,” and it works to regulate LDL levels and keep your arteries clear. The fat that is stored in the body for energy after eating is called triglycerides.

Together, your LDL, HDL, and triglyceride numbers create what’s called your “lipid profile score.” Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl), a unit of measurement that indicates the concentration of a substance in your blood. Desired levels will vary based on whether or not you’re at high risk for heart disease. The normal desired LDL level is below 100 if you’re not at risk for heart disease and below 70 if heart disease is a high health risk. If you have no risk factors like high blood pressure or heart disease, 100-129 is generally considered a healthy level; a number over 190 is considered high. While your LDL level shouldn’t get too high, your HDL level shouldn’t drop too low; remember that you need HDL, or “good” cholesterol in your blood to keep your arteries clean. 60 or above is usually a healthy HDL level. For men, an unhealthy level is below 40 and for women below 50. A triglyceride level of 150 is average; below 100 is ideal. Triglyceride levels over 200 are considered high.

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4. Blood sugar

Blood sugar measures the amount of glucose (a type of sugar found in carbohydrates) present in your blood. Glucose serves as the main source of your body’s energy. Blood sugar levels will usually fluctuate, increasing after you’ve eaten. If your glucose level rises and remains high over an extended period of time, it can damage your blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, and nerves.

If you have high glucose levels, blood sugar tests can help to detect diabetes, and an A1C test will provide an index of your average blood sugar levels over the past three or four months, which will give a broader, more representative picture of glucose fluctuations than a “spot test.” The A1C test measures what percentage of hemoglobin (a protein in your blood that carries oxygen) contains glucose. A healthy glucose level from a fasting blood sugar test (FBS) should fall below 100 mg/dl and not lower than 40 mg/dl. . A healthy reading from an A1C test should be less than 7.0%.

5. C-Reactive Protein (CRP)

CRP levels in your blood indicate the amount of inflammation in your blood vessels. It’s important to keep an eye on this number because there are often no symptoms associated with high CRP and therefore it can be a “silent killer.” High CRP levels are often associated with conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. A blood draw and lab test can check your CRP levels. A normal, healthy CRP level should fall below 1.0 mg/dl; a number above 3.0 mg/dl can indicate risk for heart disease.

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6. Waist size

In addition to your weight and BMI (body mass index, which measures your weight relative to your height), your waist size can also indicate your overall health. Waist size is also the easiest to measure because you don’t need to go to a doctor or schedule any tests. You just need a tape-measure. For an accurate measurement, measure your waist size at bellybutton height. For women, a healthy waist size is less than 36 inches; for men, it’s less than 40. Numbers higher than these can increase your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes.

As we age, we become increasingly preoccupied about numbers, but instead of counting your gray hairs or the number of wrinkles that seem to have popped up overnight, keep an eye on these six numbers to help maintain a healthy heart!

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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