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Women: Tips to stay healthy at every age

Focused on Health - August 2013

by Adelina Espat

Life changes with every decade — from starting a career and family in your 20s and 30s to work-life balance, and saving for retirement in your 40s, 50s and 60s.

women age

And, as life changes so does your body.

Just as you set personal and work-related milestones, you should also set health goals for every stage of life. We’ve created a plan to help guide you along the way.

“Practicing these healthy behaviors is important for all women, regardless of age,” says Therese Bevers, M.D., medical director of MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center . “So take note of all of these tips — even the ones directed toward women older or younger than you.”

All ages

Snuff out smoking. More women die from lung cancer each year than breast cancer. The cause: smoking.  Nearly 20% of women age 25 to 44 smoke.

Want to quit? You are not alone – 70% of women who smoke say they want to quit. Get help and support. If you’re still having trouble, cut back as much as possible and make your home smoke-free.

Your 20s

Avoid exposure to HPV. The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is most common among young women in their late teens and early 20s. High-risk strains of HPV are present in more than 99% of cervical cancer cases.

Your best bet to reduce the risk of HPV infection is to:

  • Limit your number of sexual partners
  • Consistently practice protected sex  
  • Get the HPV vaccine if you’re younger than age 26

Say ‘no’ to tanning salons. Tanning bed use significantly increases your odds of getting melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer). Using tanning beds regularly when you’re under 30 increases your risk of skin cancer by 75%.  

Other ways to limit sun exposure is to:

  • Avoid direct exposure to the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Routinely use sunscreen when you’re outdoors

Get more tips for your 20s

Your 30s

women weights

Lift some weights. Most women begin to lose muscle mass after age 30.Strength training can prevent muscle loss and build bone density to avoid osteoporosis. It can also increase the rate at which your body burns calories to help keep you at a healthy weight.

And, maintaining a healthy weight can help you avoid diseases like cancer.

Take time to unwind. Juggling all the responsibilities of being a mom, wife, caretaker and employee often increases stress. Chronic stress affects almost every system in our bodies and wreaks havoc on their functioning, making it harder to fight off diseases like cancer.

Curb stress by doing breathing exercises and other relaxation-type activities

Get more tips for your 30s

Your 40s

women food

Maintain a healthy weight. As we get older, our metabolism slows down. This is especially true for women after age 40, who may have a hard time maintaining the weight they had in their 20s and 30s. Making healthy food choices and staying active every day can help jumpstart your metabolism so you can keep off unwanted pounds.

Get more tips for your 40s

Your 50s and older

Limit your use of hormone therapy. Taking hormones can increase your chances of developing uterine cancer, breast cancer, heart disease, blood clots and stroke. Ask your doctor if hormone therapy is the best choice for you.

Get more tips for your 50s and older

Get annual check-ups

Making your health a top priority is important at every age. Whether you’re in your 20s, 40s or 60s, yearly check-ups are a must. With the aid of your doctor, you can create a personalized health plan to help you stay healthy for many years to come.

Print out our screening exams by age checklist to take to your next doctor’s visit.

Get more tips for your age:
Women's health tips for your 20s
Women's health tips for your 30s
Women's health tips for your 40s
Women's health tips for your 50s and older
Women's screening exams by age checklist


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© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center