6 Steps to Boost Your Health & Metabolism in Your 30s and Beyond
As women enter their thirties, many become tired of fad-diets and are searching for a sustainable approach to their health and wellbeing. With the overwhelming amount of information available, it can be challenging to know where to begin. However, making small, realistic changes to your lifestyle can have a substantial impact on your overall health and metabolism. In this article, we'll discuss some simple and effective strategies that you can incorporate into your daily routine to improve your health and metabolism.
Reduce Sitting Down
It's important to stay active by doing both planned and unplanned activities. Planned activities can be things like going to a fitness class or hiking. It’s something you may choose to do for half and hour or more every day. Most people will think that this is the only kind of movement that matters. In fact, unplanned physical activity is very important too. You can increase your energy expenditure by doing small movements like standing up for phone calls, stretching your legs, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. By reducing the time you spend sitting, you could burn an average of 350 calories per day and lose up to 15 kg in a year if you're trying to lose weight (1). Moving your body throughout the day can also help those with insulin resistance, which is often linked to PCOS symptoms and can lead to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and liver disease (1).
Embrace Strength Training
As you age, your muscle mass decreases by 3-8% per decade after you turn 30 (2,3). This decline is even higher after the age of 60 (2,3). Loss of muscle mass means reduced strength and energy levels, as well as reduced metabolism, which can lead to weight gain. The good news is that strength training can help you build and preserve your muscles. Strength training doesn't just mean lifting weights at the gym. You can also do activities like working with resistance bands, heavy gardening (like digging and shovelling), climbing stairs, hill walking, cycling, push-ups, sit-ups, and squats. Try different types until you find something that feels good to you. Set yourself goals that are achievable, even if they seem small at first.
Priortise Plant Foods
Eating unprocessed plant foods with lots of fibre and phytonutrients is great for your gut health. The way your gut microbes affect your hormones, food intake, and weight is complicated. But we know that a healthy gut microbe community can help by processing fibre and phytonutrients. It can reduce chronic inflammation and regulate the growth of fat cells, which is important for conditions like PCOS, reducing excess weight, and type 2 diabetes. And when your gut microbes are healthy, they can help you feel full after eating (4).
Alcoholic drinks are not just high in calories and can cause hangovers, they can also affect your body in other ways. If you drink too much alcohol for a long time, it can mess up how your body processes fat and sugar. This can lead to more fat in your bloodstream and cause problems with how your body uses sugar (5). Drinking too much can also affect your hormones and cause inflammation, which can be bad for your health. It has been linked to conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disease, and liver disease. Drinking excessively can also cause symptoms like fatigue, low mood, poor sleep, and weight gain. Luckily, there are many alcohol-free alternatives to choose from. Just be careful to avoid drinks with added sugar or sweeteners. Good-quality kombucha or cold tea infusion can be a healthy and delicious choice.
Eat During The Day
Many people eat over a long period of time each day, with some studies showing that half of us eat for more than 15 hours per day. However, eating erratically or over an extended period of time can disrupt our body clock, or circadian rhythms. Regularly disrupting your body clock can increase your risk of health problems, such as high blood pressure, problems with sugar processing, inflammation, weight gain, and unhealthy levels of fats in your blood (6,7). On the other hand, studies have shown that overweight or obese adults who habitually eat for more than 14 hours per day can safely adopt a time-restricted eating pattern of 8-10 hours per day over several weeks and achieve weight loss (8,9,10).
Plan Your New Choices
To develop new habits that stick, it's important to repeat the behavior many times until it becomes automatic. Some people find it hard to make lasting habits because they set unrealistic goals and make it too hard. To make it easier to start new habits, make them as simple as possible. For instance, if you want to start doing yoga, save a yoga video and keep a yoga mat in the room you plan to use. To make a boring activity that you want to do regularly more enjoyable, try combining it with something you find fun or interesting. For instance, if you plan to do resistance training at home, listen to a good podcast or watch a fun TV show while you do it. You can also save your favourite shows for when you do the activity you want to turn into a habit.You also need to plan exactly when and where you will practice your new habit. Some people put it in their schedule to remind themselves and avoid saying "yes" to other things during that time.
- Duvivier BM, Schaper NC, Hesselink MK, van Kan L, Stienen N, Winkens B, Koster A, Savelberg HH. Breaking sitting with light activities vs structured exercise: a randomised crossover study demonstrating benefits for glycaemic control and insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes. Diabetologia. 2017 Mar;60(3):490-498. doi: 10.1007/s00125-016-4161-7.
- Holloszy JO. The biology of aging. Mayo Clin Proc.2000;75(Suppl):S3–S8.
- Melton LJ, III, Khosla S, Crowson CS, et al. Epidemiology of sarcopenia. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2000;48:625–630
- Ghosh TS, Shanahan F, O'Toole PW. The gut microbiome as a modulator of healthy ageing. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2022 Sep;19(9):565-584. doi: 10.1038/s41575-022-00605-x. Epub 2022 Apr 25. PMID: 35468952; PMCID: PMC9035980.
- Steiner JL, Lang CH. Alcohol, Adipose Tissue and Lipid Dysregulation. Biomolecules. 2017 Feb 16;7(1):16. doi: 10.3390/biom7010016. PMID: 28212318; PMCID: PMC5372728.
- Lunn RM, Blask DE, Coogan AN, Figueiro MG, Gorman MR, Hall JE, Hansen J, Nelson RJ, Panda S, Smolensky MH, et al. (2017). Health consequences of electric lighting practices in the modern world: A report on the National Toxicology Program’s workshop on shift work at night, artificial light at night, and circadian disruption. Sci Total Environ 607-608, 1073–1084.
- Mohebbi I, Shateri K, and Seyedmohammadzad M (2012). The relationship between working schedule patterns and the markers of the metabolic syndrome: comparison of shift workers with day workers. International journal of occupational medicine and environmental health 25, 383–391
- Gabel K, Hoddy KK, Haggerty N, Song J, Kroeger CM, Trepanowski JF, Panda S, and Varady KA (2018a). Effects of 8-hour time restricted feeding on body weight and metabolic disease risk factors in obese adults: A pilot study. Nutr Healthy Aging 4, 345–353.
- Gabel K, Hoddy KK, and Varady KA (2018b). Safety of 8-h time restricted feeding in adults with obesity. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab.
- Gill S, and Panda S (2015). A Smartphone App Reveals Erratic Diurnal Eating Patterns in Humans that Can Be Modulated for Health Benefits. Cell Metab 22, 789–798.