Stay FIT!

Eating right and staying fit can help to keep you feeling and looking good throughout your life. As women go through the different life stages, it is important to be aware of the bodies’ changing needs. Staying active and tailoring food intake to keep up with your changing body can help minimize unwanted weight gain and energy loss and possibly keep chronic diseases in check.

Early 20s
Lower your chances of getting osteoporosis later by consuming more calcium now. Keep your bones strong by eating two to three servings of foods that contain calcium each day. Good sources of calcium are low fat milk, yogurt, low fat milk products.

Late 20s
One of the most important things you can do at this stage is to make sure you are getting the recommended daily 400 micrograms of folate or folic acid, especially if you are planning a pregnancy. Folic acid is an essential B vitamin that protects fetuses from serious birth defects. Good sources of folate include green, leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, folic acid-fortified bread and cereal, and supplements.

Your 30s
A woman’s metabolism slows down between 2 and 8 percent every decade, which means a 35-year-old woman needs 100 fewer calories a day than she did 10 years ago. To keep your weight steady, you will need to exercise more and eat less. It is important to remember that although you need to reduce your food intake, your body still needs nutrients. Cut back on empty calories and eat more nutritious foods.

Your 40s and Beyond
Muscle mass slowly begins to deteriorate and is replaced with fat. The best way to prevent age-related muscle loss is to make strength training and weight-bearing exercise a priority. Experts recommend that women over 40 do strength training exercises, including weight or resistance training, at least twice a week, and weight bearing exercises, including swimming, walking, and dancing, at least five times a week.

At any age, exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. The key to staying active is finding something that you enjoy that fits into your daily schedule. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do as long as you do it regularly.

Exercise promotes weight control, improves your strength and flexibility, lowers your risk of heart disease, helps control blood pressure and diabetes, relieves stress, and improves your mood and the way you feel about yourself. If you are older than 40, very overweight, or have medical problems, you should see your doctor before you start exercising.

Marianna Szoke /