Health and Fitness Needs for Women at 40
Life means facing the downhill slope of life for the first time -counting the
years left rather than the years gone. The average mid point of life is
considered about 39 for women, but most women consider themselves middle aged
only once they have entered their 40s. Middle age has a curious way of stealing
up and catching you unaware-one fine morning.
A women is supposed to be nearing
Menopause. You might begin to experience pre-menopausal-type
symptoms, around this time.
Peri-menopause literally means "around the end of menstruation" and can continue
for years. While some women have few, if any, bothersome symptoms, others can
experience a variety of signs beginning some time in their early 40s.
percent of women entering menopause have changes in their menstrual cycles.
Periods may be longer or shorter, heavier or lighter. Sometimes your periods
stop abruptly. Other times they can last for seven days one month and only three
other obvious sign of aging is an increase in the
fat layer. Starting at about age 35, we gain an average of a pound-and-a-half of
fat each year! Why do we get fat? Fat tends to move in
because muscle moves out. After age 35, we lose half-a-pound of muscle per year!
Muscle is an extremely active, hungry tissue: one pound of muscle burns 35
calories a day--just to stay alive. Muscle never sleeps; even while you watch TV
or take a nap, your muscles are burning calories! Lose
muscle, and you burn fewer calories--which are then stored as fat. Fat really is
“dead weight”: A pound of fat burns just two calories a day.
Apart from the menopause and weight gain
"middle age" today is more of a psychological than a physical change. Event such
as significant birthdays, the appearance of wrinkles
and grey hair, and noticing the adult
status and success of much younger women ,often prompts a certain amount of
life-assessment .Such a period of 'stock-taking' can be positive, provided you
do not panic, it often opens the door to a new phase of maturity with an added
confidence and creativity and greater awareness of personal achievements, needs
Experts recommend these tips for coping with the physical, nutritional ,social,
mental and emotional needs of women at 40. Read on ...
In middle-aged women, genetic factors remain the strongest influence on the
amount and distribution of body fat, accounting for up to 60% of the variance.
Among the environmental factors leading to total and central
obesity, decreased physical activity is more important
than energy intake and dietary composition.
should be encouraged to maintain physical activity, even if there are some
limitations (such as arthritis). Australia's national physical activity
guidelines recommend that adults accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate
intensity activity (eg, moderate-paced
walking) on most -- preferably all -- days of the week. Yes,
aerobic exercise does burn
calories and causes fat loss. It also
strengthens the heart muscle. (Very good!) But
has a dirty little secret: In the rest of your body, aerobics causes muscle
loss! In other words, aerobics ages your muscle system! A two-month study of
stationary bicyclers revealed that the subjects lost three pounds of fat,
but also had a half-pound of muscle loss! With two months of hard work, they
aged their muscle systems a full year! (And they did it at six times the
normal rate of muscle loss from aging!)
If you want to burn more calories and prevent muscle loss at the same
time, you need to make weight training
an essential component of your fitness and weight
loss program. Weight lifting causes fat-loss in two ways:
 You burn extra calories while you lift, and
 Each pound
of added muscle burns extra
calories around the
clock, thereby returning your
metabolic rate to a
Weight lifting is also essential in building bone
osteoporosis, one of the biggest age-related diseases. In fact, one in
two women over 50 (and one in four men) will
suffer from it. Compare this to
which afflicts only one woman in eight! Studies prove that those who walk at
least a mile a day lose bone more slowly than non-walkers, but only weight
training increases bone mass--at any age. Weights also improve heart
To incorporate physical activity as a long term behavioral change, the
type, duration, intensity and frequency of the activity needs to be
realistic, achievable and pleasurable.
aged 40 and over should consume 3-4 serves of low
fat dairy food daily. Other, non-dairy sources of calcium include
fortified breakfast cereals, canned fish with edible bones, some nuts, seeds
and green vegetables. If calcium supplements
are required, the best absorption rate is from a dose of 500-600mg of
calcium once or twice daily. Vitamin D supplements may be necessary for
elderly women with inadequate sun
Adding a serving of lean protein to your
meals can help you feel satisfied longer, so you'll eat less in the long
run. By making fish your protein of choice, you may get even more weight
a study of almost 70 overweight people, those who added one daily serving of
fish (rich in omega-3 fatty acids) to their weight loss program lost more
weight and increased their good cholesterol (HDL) more than those who ate
fish only once a week or less (Amer. Jour. of Clinical Nutrition, Nov 1999).
Eating more fish instead of meat can reduce the amount of total fat and
saturated fat that you eat, which can aid
weight loss, says
study researcher Trevor A. Mori, MD, of the University of Western Australia
in Perth. The best fish for omega-3s: salmon, canned white (albacore) tuna,
mackerel, and whitefish. And go easy on fatty sauces such as butter, cream,
and mayo. Try fruity salsas, herbs such as dill and peppercorn, or spicy
curry flavorings instead.
more fiber, and
watch those hunger pangs-and pounds-disappear! "You can take in loads of
calories, yet never feel full if many of the foods you eat are high in
refined carbohydrates and sugar and low in fiber," says Michelle Rodgers,
RD, weight management coordinator at Hershey Medical Center in PA. "Fiber
not only fills you up but also helps keep your blood sugar and energy levels
even, and it's great for lowering cholesterol and improving your overall
health.". Fiber may also be your body's best weight loss aid: It actually
whisks some of the calories you eat through your digestive system before
they have a chance to settle on your waistline. If you double your daily
fiber intake from the usual 14 grams (g) to about 30 g, you'll absorb almost
120 fewer calories a day. That's 13 pounds a year!
at consuming a variety of foods, particularly grains, vegetables and fruit,
to achieve a diverse intake of vitamins, fibre and phytoestrogens in a
manner that can be considered "natural" for humans. Several studies indicate
that high dietary intakes of vitamins A, C and E and fibre are associated
with lower breast cancer rates, while taking these as supplements is not.
Some observational studies have shown a relationship between lower rates of
CHD (Cardiovascular Heart Disease) and high intakes of vitamin E consumed in
food and not as supplements. Foods rich in antioxidants include fruits,
vegetables, grains and garlic.
plays a central role in metabolism, including the assimilation of metabolic
fuel and maintenance of immune function. It is a component of many enzymes,
often located at the active site, It helps to stabilize cell membranes and
can function as a site-specific antioxidant; besides zinc "finger" proteins
have sequence-specific DNA-binding domains and act as transcriptional
mediators. Biochemical abnormalities in the absence of zinc are wide ranging
and include reduced protein synthesis, resistance to infection, collagen
synthesis and platelet aggregation. Women at 40 should increase their intake
of zinc through food sources composed, mainly of protein foods such as meat,
fish, poultry, and dairy. Zinc supplementation greater than 25mg/day should
alcohol consumption by women who consume excess alcohol on a regular basis
may be a potential means of reducing breast cancer risk. Alcohol consumption
by women has been associated with a linear increase in breast cancer risk.
Lay Emphasis on minimal consumption of processed foods (eg, wholegrain
breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables) low in saturated fats, and low
fat, calcium-rich foods. Small amounts of fats can be included in the diet
and should come from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated sources, such as
olive and canola oils, fish, grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.
Very low fat diets and quick weight-loss diets should be avoided as they
can reduce lean body mass and promote weight regain. The rate of weight loss
needs to be gradual.
To summarise, all women need to be encouraged to eat a
diet that is low in saturated
fat, contains more grain-based foods (eg, breakfast cereals, breads, pasta,
rice) as well as fruits and vegetables and foods rich in calcium and zinc By
maintaining an adequate physical activity and an energy-appropriate, diet a
women can maximize her physical health and psychological wellbeing.
There is a complex relationship between
body image, weight
gain and diet. However, the data consistently show that maintenance of
adequate physical activity and a nutritious, but energy-appropriate, diet
are the keys to maximizing physical health and psychological well-being.
Regular physical activity reduces depression and anxiety, improves mood
and has been associated with increased ability to perform daily tasks.
Regular meals and nutritious afternoon
may improve cognitive performance. Eating breakfast regularly improves mood
and memory, and increases energy and promotes feelings of calmness.
It is never too late to achieve health benefits from optimizing diet (below
is an example of a suggested sample meal and snacks) and activity. Further,
women exert a profound influence on societal behavior, and are, in general,
still responsible for the fundamental eating pattern within their families.
Favorable modification in the eating and exercise patterns of women aged 40 and
over is likely to have a positive effect on their dependents and partners. The
bottom line is that nutrition, physical activity, mood and well-being in women
are integrally related and must be addressed both by individual women and by the
community to prevent disease and to maximize quality of life.
Fortified breakfast cereal plus low fat milk
Rye toast with ricotta, fresh fruit slices and cinnamon
Fortified breakfast cereal with low fat milk
Multigrain toast with baked beans
2 slices wholegrain toast with margarine
Fresh fruit salad and yoghurt
Low fat grain and fruit based bar
2 tablespoons dried fruit and walnuts
Vegetable platter including olives and walnuts
Pasta with a fresh tomato sauce, a few
olives, garlic and herbs
Small bread roll
2 slices wholegrain toast brushed with olive oil with
sardines or tuna plus tomato and basil
1 pita bread salad and hummus
Banana smoothie made from low fat milk, banana, honey and
low fat yoghurt
Carton of low fat yoghurt
Fish grilled with olive oil and herbs, polenta, eggplant,
zucchini and peppers with tomato
Fresh figs and ricotta and honey
Pasta with tomato, garlic, vegetables, herbs and a little
olive oil plus salad with an oil and vinegar dressing
Strawberries and kiwi fruit sprinkled with chopped almonds
Marinated lean Moroccan lamb with chickpeas and couscous,
sweet potato, and spinach
Fresh fruit platter with spiced yoghurt
1 cup low fat milk
Raisin toast with margarine
Toasted muffin, margarine and sliced banana
* These suggested meals and snacks incorporate the dietary
recommendations for women aged 40 and over. They have low amounts of
saturated fat, include some monounsaturated and polyunsaturated
fats, high amounts of fibre and calcium, and protective factors from
a variety of foods such as seafood, fruit, vegetables and grains.
- WF Team
Dated 06 October 2011