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Health & Fitness Needs For Women At 40

Middle 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.

About 90 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 the next.

The 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 and limits.

Experts recommend these tips for coping with the physical, nutritional ,social, mental and emotional needs of women at 40. Read on …

Physical Needs:

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.

Nutritional Needs:

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.

Psychological Needs:


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.

Suggested sample meals and snacks*

  • Fresh fruit
    Fortified breakfast cereal plus low fat milk
    Rye toast with ricotta, fresh fruit slices and cinnamon
  • Fruit juice
    Fortified breakfast cereal with low fat milk
    Multigrain toast with baked beans
  • 2 slices wholegrain toast with margarine
    Fresh fruit salad and yoghurt

Morning snacks

  • 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
    Fresh fruit

Afternoon snacks

  • Banana smoothie made from low fat milk, banana, honey and low fat yoghurt
  • Carton of low fat yoghurt
  • Fruit bagel


  • 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.
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