A Picture of Health: 5 Things to Do Now

With all the health advice available, it’s sometimes difficult to know what to do—and what really applies to us.

We’ll make it easier for you. Here’s a decade-by-decade guide to what you should be doing now:

In your 30s

Start building muscle
Studies show that even people who manage to maintain their exact weight still gain three pounds of fat—and lose three pounds of muscle—every decade after age 30.

Take a multi-vitamin with iron
Many childbearing women struggle with fatigue and an iron deficiency is often the culprit.

Quit smoking
Besides the obvious risk of lung cancer, smokers are two to four times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than non-smokers and are more likely to die when they suffer a heart attack.

Don’t use tanning beds
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, even a one-time use of a tanning bed increases your risk of melanoma by 75 percent.

Update your immunizations
By the time you’re 30, you’ll need boosters for tetanus, measles, mumps and chickenpox (especially if you’re planning to become pregnant).

In your 40s

Get Your Zs
According to a 2008 University of Chicago study, consistent sleep deprivation promotes calcium buildup in the heart arteries, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Sneak exercise into your life
People who are sedentary are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack than those who are active. If you don’t have time to work out at the gym, ride your bike to work instead of driving, take the stairs instead of the elevator and exercise while watching TV.

Protect your mental health
Even mild depression can shorten your life: according to the American Heart Association, it’s associated with cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Mental health experts say opening yourself up to positive experiences—something as simple as enjoying a sunset—can decrease your risk of depression.

Drink, but in moderation
A drink or two a day, especially red wine, is beneficial to your heart. If you’re a woman, however, no more than one drink a day, or you increase your breast cancer risk.

Make flossing a habit
In addition to preventing tooth decay and bad breath, regular flossing prevents gum disease.

In your 50s

Eat breakfast
Skipping breakfast increases your body’s insulin response, which can lead to fat storage and weight gain.

Weigh yourself daily
Forget what you heard about not weighing yourself too often. Studies show that people who weigh themselves daily tend to keep their weight in check.

Explore the body/mind connection
Stress reduction practices like meditation and Tai Chi may prevent the onset of diseases by teaching you to break the pattern of stressful thought.

Manage your menopause
Maintain a healthy weight and exercise—which will reduce your risk of both heart disease and breast cancer—and avoid taking hormone replacement therapy, recently proven to increase your risk of getting the most deadly form of breast cancer.

Get a flu shot
Contrary to popular opinion, a flu shot does not cause the flu. What it does do is protect against the flu, a virus that kills roughly 36,000 Americans every year.

In your 60s and beyond

Get your vaccines
Besides a flu shot and pneumonia vaccine, seniors should get a shingles vaccine to prevent PHN, the debilitating and painful aftermath of shingles.

Fall-proof your home
Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in people 65 and older, but most are preventable. Simple steps, like installing stair rails and removing throw rugs, can lower the risk.

Challenge yourself intellectually
Experts say you can slow the aging process down—and maybe even prevent age-related brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s—by learning new things.

Volunteering combats the loss and isolation that often comes with aging, and studies show seniors who volunteer live longer, and experience lower rates of depression and heart disease.

Swimming laps, doing water aerobics or just walking in the pool is a great way to get a cardiovascular workout without putting wear and tear on your joints.

We’ve also got the goods on what to eat, decade-by decade: 5 Things to Eat Now