In the latest installment of The Early Show's "Reaching For More" series, find out a few secrets on how to look and feel younger after the age of 40.
More Magazine editor-in-chief Peggy Northrop offers tips on how to stay fit and healthy.
Women who are 40 and older look very different from their mothers and grandmothers of the same age years ago. What's changed when it comes to aging in our generation is that we don't accept looking middle-aged or less than stylish, Northrop says.
Many more women are in the workforce than our mothers were, so we have different expectations for ourselves. And once we turn 40, Northrop says, many more of us are exercising seriously.
She notes, "The interesting thing is that is we aren't eating as healthy as we should, so we still have things to do. And plenty of us are dressing the way our teen-age daughters do, not as dowdy or frumpy as older generations, which is something women of my mother's generation wouldn't have done. And maybe they were right!"
As for the fact that our body changes over time (for some, sooner than others), Northrop says the biggest the physical changes are interrupted sleep that comes with hormone shifts and weight. Emotionally, however, she notes the changes are more positive.
Women talk about how liberated they feel from other people's expectations and judgments," Northrop says, "I just came back from talking to groups of women in Philadelphia and in Dallas, and every single woman told me how much more confident and happy she felt, and what a wonderful surprise that was."
In the latest issue of the magazine, anti-aging secrets are outlined. Northrop shares them with The Early Show:
She says, "Exercise really does seem to be the fountain of youth. The fitness experts we photographed and interviewed did everything from yoga and Pilates to weight lifting and aerobics. But what mattered wasn't what they did. It was their commitment to keep moving. All of these fantastic-looking women had learned to look at exercise as time spent nurturing themselves. That seems to be the key. You can't think of it as stealing time from your family."
But she points out that you should not expect to be able to exercise the way you did when you were younger. Northrop says, "Our experts confessed that they needed to spend more time recovering after a hard workout, and more time stretching, especially doing yoga. And Pilates really is great for tackling the midlife tummy. But More just sponsored a marathon for women 40+, in which 3,600 women ran or walked, and our oldest runner was 81. So saying you're too old to exercise really doesn't cut it."
Follow Health Pyramid
The article offers a "health Pyramid," which describes several things we can do every day, week, month, even every year to stay healthy. Daily, Northrop says, "Eat More, Gain Less."
She explains, "Lifestyle changes can prevent 80 percent of heart attacks and diabetes, so our pyramid is aimed at helping you make those changes easily.
The daily prescription is going to sound familiar, but we tried to make it easier to remember. Exercise for as many minutes a day as you've had birthdays. So if you're 41, exercise for 41 minutes should be your goal. Remember walking counts. But find a way to lift a little weight or do resistance training; you need it.
Also, you need to increase your veggie intake if you haven't already done so. The new government health guidelines say you need 9 servings a day. How to do it? Start dinner with a big Mediterranean salad with a rainbow of vegetables. You'll take in fewer calories overall; that's how you can eat more and gain less.
Sexual activity is important, and Nortrop says you either "use it or lose it" when it comes to keeping vaginal muscles in tone, just like with other muscles and adds, "Regular sexual activity boosts estrogen and if you're starting to fluctuate, this can be very helpful."
Monthly, Northrop says it is important to look at what you've done and see what needs improving.
She says, "Maybe your gym bag is spending way too much time under your desk. So, instead, start a walking group with a friend. Sometimes reassessing just means crossing things off your calendar; it's so easy to get overscheduled."
Take a Vacation
Getting away or taking a real vacation at least once a year is key, Northrop says. The vacation doesn't have to be expensive. All you need to do is disconnect from your office. She says those who do that are 30 percent less likely to die of a heart attack than people who stay chained to their desks.
Forty and forgetfulness seems to go hand in hand. But Northrop says there is no correlation between the two. The problem is stress.
She explains, "We're all sleep deprived. And then hormones come along and disrupt your sleep even more. Then add stress. Average women dealing with work, kids, a husband, aging parents, etc., have about 50 measurable stress responses a day. No wonder you can't remember where you put your keys! Or worse, you get in the car and can't remember where you're going!"
So what can be done? Meditation is one answer. Northrop adds, "The founder of the Stress Reduction Program at the University of Massachusetts says, 'If exercise takes care of your body, meditation takes care of your mind. Practice peace. You need to find a way to cultivate a peaceful state of mind, if you haven't already. Meditation works, there are a lot of books out there to help you get started. Church services, or simply prayer or a solo walk in the woods can also help. The benefits are proven--more than a dozen studies have found that people who have some kind of spiritual ritual reap tremendous health benefits.'"
The good news is there are some things that actually improve as you age. In terms of your body, Northrop says, with menopause, cellulite tends to become less noticeable. And if you've had skin breakouts, those are going to go away.
But she notes the biggest change is emotional. "So many women say that, especially as they get to 50, they have less stress and they feel more creative and way more confident. And I agree," she says, "If I'd known that middle age would be this great, I would have looked forward to it more."