As you enter your 30s, you may be finding yourself busier than ever, with an ever-growing list of demands competing for your attention. Work, school, family, parenting: Any or all of these may be at play in your daily life — and they may be keeping you from taking top-notch care of yourself. At the same time, you may be noticing other changes — like a metabolism that seems a bit more sluggish, or how you seem to gain weight more easily than you did in your 20s. But fear not: there are more than a few ways you can keep yourself healthy now — and for future years.
Read on for eight steps you can take, starting today, to keep yourself healthy and radiant throughout your third decade — and for many decades to come.
1. Keep your metabolism humming
Photo by Gesina Kunkel on Unsplash
Even if you eat and exercise as you always have, you may notice that your metabolism just doesn’t seem as efficient as it once was. And you might be right: Researchers have found that people’s resting metabolic rate decreases an average of about 1% to 2% every decade after the age of 20.1
To help compensate for a slowing metabolism, experts recommend the following:
- Get regular aerobic exercise. Try to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity, such as walking, cycling or swimming, every day.2 Not sure where to start? Check out this beginner’s guide to exercise.
- Fit in extra movement where and when you can. Any extra movement can help rev your metabolism, so try making a few simple adjustments to your day. For example, park at the far end of the parking lot or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk over to your coworker’s desk instead of sending an email. Another idea: Take a brisk walk during your lunch break or when your kids are at soccer practice. Small bouts of activity can add up in a big way!
- Add strength training to your exercise routine. Experts recommend doing strength training, such as weightlifting or working out with exercise bands, at least 2-3 days per week to help boost your metabolism.2 As an added bonus, strength training can make your bones stronger and boost your weight loss efforts.3 It can also help slow the age-related muscle loss that often starts around the age of 30.4
2. Schedule an annual health screening
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health,5 a regular visit with your doctor is necessary for good health. If you’re concerned about the cost, don’t be: Since it’s considered preventive care, an annual checkup shouldn’t cost anything extra as long as you have health insurance.
3. Get your thyroid checked
The American Thyroid Association6 recommends getting a screening test for thyroid function at the age of 35, followed by another test once every five years. Women are more likely to experience thyroid issues than men, which can impact metabolism function and weight.7 If you are considering pregnancy, it may also be beneficial to get your thyroid checked as proper thyroid function is critical for the development of the brain and nervous system.8
4. Monitor your weight
Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash
According to the National Institutes of Health,9 after age 30, lean muscle mass begins to diminish, and body fat starts to increase. This includes visceral fat, or the type that builds up in the center of your body and around your internal organs. In fact, research10 indicates that visceral fat may increase more than 200% in men and 400% in women between the third and seventh decades.
To help combat visceral fat — and for all-around good health — the Heart Foundation recommends the following:11
- Eat a healthy diet. Get plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains; increase your intake of soluble fiber; choose lean protein sources, such as chicken; limit your intake of processed meats; opt for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as the type found in fish and nuts; and limit your consumption of saturated fat, such as that found in meat and high-fat dairy products, including cheese and butter.
- Steer clear of excess sugar. In addition to avoiding extra sugar from foods such as baked goods and candy, beware of all types of sugary beverages — including soda, juice and sports drinks — as they appear to increase visceral fat.
- Limit or avoid alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol causes you to gain belly fat by adding empty calories to your diet. If you drink, do so in moderation: up to one drink per day for women, two per day for men. If weight loss is your goal, try to avoid alcohol consumption altogether.
- Get enough sleep. Routinely getting five hours or less of sleep per night increases visceral fat, research shows. Aim for eight hours of quality sleep every night.
- Reduce stress. When the stress hormone cortisol courses through your body, research indicates that you may be more susceptible to gaining weight around your mid-section.12 Exercise and meditation can be great ways to help reduce stress. So can reading.
- Do strength training. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, research shows strength training can help keep you from gaining abdominal fat.13
5. Keep your bones strong
After age 30, your bones may begin to lose some of their minerals and become less dense.14 To help keep them strong, the Mayo Clinic recommends that you:14
- Get plenty of calcium. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for women in their 30s is 1,000 milligrams a day. Good sources of calcium include almonds, broccoli, dairy products, kale, sardines and certain soy products, such as tofu.
- Be mindful of vitamin D. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium, so focus on incorporating foods into your diet that contain this essential nutrient. Good sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, fortified milk and oily fish, such as tuna. Sunlight also contributes to the body's production of vitamin D.
- Do weight-bearing exercises. Walking, jogging, tennis and climbing stairs are examples of bone-building, weight-bearing exercises you can do.
- Don't smoke. In addition to causing chronic lung disease, heart disease, and lung and esophageal cancer, smoking is a risk factor for bone fractures and osteoporosis.15
6. Nurture your personal relationships
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Not only is meaningful, intimate social interaction important at all phases of life, but research16 shows that having close relationships at the age of 30 is associated with better social and emotional adjustment in later life.
7. Watch your skin
According to the American Cancer Society,17 melanoma is one of the most common cancers among young adults, especially young women. Experts recommend you do a head-to-toe skin check once a month to look for new moles and make sure any existing ones have not changed shape, size or color. This is particularly important if you have a personal history of sunburns or a family history of skin cancer, or if you have a large number of moles.18
8. Protect your eyes
Photo by Craig Garner on Unsplash
According to statistics,19 people in the millennial generation spent an average of 223 minutes per day on their mobile devices in 2017. And that doesn’t account for time spent in front of computer screens — which, in the average workplace, can add up to several hours every day. This is a concern because the blue light emitted from such devices may increase the risk of an eye disease called macular degeneration, which can lead to vision loss over time.20
To help prevent such damage, try to reduce your screen time. Also, consider wearing protective glasses, often called blue light glasses, while using your phone or computer to help reduce the amount of blue light that reaches your eyes. And make sure grab your sunglasses before you head outdoors, as the sun also produces vision-damaging blue light.20
We hope these tips help you to live your healthiest and most vibrant life — whether you’re in your 30s or any other decade of your life.
If you’re ready to make a change to your diet and improve your eating habits — Jenny Craig can help — with a weight loss program that fits your lifestyle. Contact us to get started today.
Carole is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California who specializes in health and wellness topics. Her work has appeared in Parents, Fit Pregnancy, Mom & Baby, Yahoo News, Viv magazine and Lifescript. She's won several national awards for her work including a National Science Award and two National Health Information awards. A frequent contributor to Jenny Craig’s Blog, Healthy Habits, she enjoys gardening, spending time at the beach and adopting far too many rescue animals in her spare time.
Favorite healthy snack: jicama dipped in homemade hummus
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and fact-checked by Briana Rodriquez, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Jenny Craig.
Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.
This article contains trusted sources including scientific, peer-reviewed papers. All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.