For most people, staying healthy in middle age is the not something we spend a lot of time thinking about, but did you know that making healthy choices today can work to future proof your body?
Like it or not, your 40s and 50s are coming. And for some, it will be an unwelcome arrival. Why? This is precisely the time when all of our less-than-perfect choices can come back to haunt us. You know, a few (hundred) late nights, that chronic stress, your former passion for adrenalin sports, and even the fact that on certain weeks chocolate is basically your best friend.
Happily, we are not all automatically destined to suffer from achy joints, chronic disease, or even scarier things in our later years. But it is true that middle age is when your previous life choices catch up with you, which is why making some small lifestyle changes right now means that you can spend that time living your best life instead of dealing with limited mobility or worse.
What does “future proof” mean?
First used in the techie world, ‘future proof’ means to design something so that it will continue to be successful and useful even when faced with the inevitable changes that come with time.
When it comes to the long-term health of our bodies, ‘future proof’ is now becoming a bit of a buzz word. Basically, the idea is that the choices and actions we engage in today can help our bodies continue to be successful in the long run. Consider it a way of getting ahead of the curve.
Instead of suddenly making a 180-degree shift once we’ve been faced with a chronic illness or scary diagnosis, future proofing is all about living your best, most healthy life now.
So how can you future proof your body? Here are 9 ways to show your body the love it needs every day, so that you don’t run into problems down the road.
9 ways you can start future proofing your body now
1. Eat whole foods
It sounds deceptively simple. But honestly the solid foundation of every healthy body is built on food. Eating a varied (and colorful) range of whole foods sets the stage for a high functioning body and a healthy immune system. So clean out the sugary snacks, processed foods and soda, and whenever possible, eat foods that are closest to their natural state.
2. Make Sleep a Priority
While we sleep, our bodies get to work repairing, restoring and recharging our system so that we wake up refreshed and bolstered for the day ahead. While you snooze, your cardiovascular system gets a much-needed break, your appetite hormones are regulated and more complex processes, like accelerated toxin removal in the brain, take place.
On the other hand, lack of sleep has been linked to an increase in obesity and certain diseases.
How to ensure you’re getting a good night’s rest? Practice good sleep hygiene.
Experts say to set regular bed and waking times, and to stick to them. Cutting out screens for an hour or two before bed also helps our bodies slow down and get ready for rest. And if a racing mind is keeping you awake? Try some meditation just before bed to calm the mind and the body will follow.
3. Water Yourself
If you’re one of those people who are consistently underachieving in the area of water intake, take heart: you’re in good company. The good news is that even if you’re falling short of the 6-8 glasses a day, any amount is better than none.
So treat yourself to the best looking water bottle you can find and keep it nearby. Once you start enjoying the feeling of being hydrated, you’ll find yourself automatically reaching for your water bottle and recognizing the signs of dehydration—which include fatigue, stiffness and even hunger (often thirst in a clever disguise).
4. Exercise daily
As we age, our bodies lose muscle mass, which affects our posture, spinal health and so much more. Regular exercise works to combat that decline. Pair that with the fact that daily exercise contributes to optimal mental health, and you’ve got a winning combination.
So put some form of daily exercise on the schedule, regardless of how full it is. Carve out some non-negotiable YOU time to get walking, running, biking, spinning. It doesn’t matter how you do it, only that you do it.
5. Work in hourly “movement breaks” (because sitting is the new smoking)
Our various gadgets are making life a lot easier, but they also contribute to a LOT of sitting. While we’re typing, scrolling, liking, shopping and texting, our poor body is simply on stand-by. The fact is, our bodies were made to MOVE, and today many companies are recognizing that sitting in a chair for hours every day contributes to poor health outcomes for office workers.
So every day, even if you are trapped under a heavy deadline, make sure that you set a timer (or use a fitness device, which will send you reminders) to get up and move. Walk around the block or do some stretches before tucking back in for another chunk of work.
6. Yoga for the win
The ancient tradition of yoga is often credited with reducing stress and anxiety (and even reducing inflammation in the body), and it’s not hard to see why. The deep stretching and breathing exercises work to keep muscles limber and fluids flowing through our system. It also improves mental health by calming the mind. Yes, please!
7. Get schooled on gut health
There is mounting evidence that the health of our gut affects our overall health in a multitude of ways. Taking good care of your gut, including healing issues like leaky gut, results in global benefits for the whole body. There are also a number of supplements you can use, including probiotics and collagen powder, that can help. To get the full scoop on how collagen works for our body, read up on the health benefits of collagen.
8. Plan for a digital detox
We love our devices. The problem is they are causing low level stress with a seemingly never-ending barrage of notifications, buzzes, alarms and vibrations. A 2015 study found that people check their phones an average of 85 times per day. Taking a complete daily break can help to curb stress, which is a big factor in the all round physical health of your body in the short and long term.
9. Break the bad habits
Part of being human means having a bad habit or two. But if yours involve a lot of caffeine, smoking or more than a single alcoholic beverage or two per week, the sooner you quit, the better. Studies have shown that the body works to repair the damage done beginning on the day you quit, and continues to do so as the months and years pass. So don’t waste time feeling bad about these habits (everybody has one), but take steps now to ensure you’re not carrying them with you into your later years.
Making these small, daily changes can future proof your body for many years to come. Because for all of those times you’ve woken up and wondered how on earth you’re performing so well after a crazy late night (and a bucket of coffee), there is one place that keeps score. Your body.
So why not implement some future proofing measures right now, to ensure you’re taking care of the most important thing in life: your health. Want to learn more? Check out our healthy eating tips for changes you can make today.