Welcome to your third decade. With it comes some pretty cool stuff, especially if you’re starting a family or getting into a great rhythm at work.
However, there will be times when your body doesn’t feel as young as it used to. Did you drink too much Saturday night? That hangover may last longer than it did when you were 22. And if you scarf down too many summer ice cream cones, you’ll find the weight may stick around longer than it did before.
Which is why now is the time to focus on forging good health habits to last a lifetime, says Diana Bitner, MD, a physician at Spectrum Health Medical Group in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“This is a time of life where I see my patients dealing with overwhelming schedules,” she says. “It’s also a time when work, family and deciding where to invest time —community, giving back, etc. — becomes more of a challenge.” Tamping down on that stress — or just getting better at juggling it — will serve you well as the decades roll along.
Here, Kathryn Boling, MD, a family medicine physician at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, outlines six other things thirtysomethings should focus on now.
1. Build bone health
The good and bad news is this: Your bones are said to reach their maximum density between the age of 25 and 35. So by age 30, you may already be losing bone mass. That’s all the more reason to speak with your physician about getting 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day (from your diet or supplements) and starting a weight-bearing exercise regimen.
2. Get some blood work done
Now’s the time to visit your physician to get lab work, as this can help doctors check for diseases, conditions and how well your organs are working. The tests will likely include a complete blood count (CBC), which offers baseline numbers for your red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Also included may be a glucose test to screen for diabetes. A cholesterol test (for good and bad cholesterol, HDL and LDL, respectively) can indicate if you’re at risk for heart disease. Last but not least, there’s a thyroid test to see if your thyroid is overactive or underactive, as either scenario can lead to serious medical conditions if not treated.
3. Be up-to-date with vaccines
Shots aren’t just for kids. You need a tetanus shot every 10 years. If you’ve never had a Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, aka whooping cough), consider getting one of those. If you have diabetes, you may need a Hepatitis B vaccine. And be sure to get a yearly flu vaccine, too.
4. Speak up during your physical
You may not have had regular physicals in your 20s, but get in the habit of seeing the doctor once a year once you reach your 30s. During a routine physical, point out any new moles or skin issues (you may be referred to a dermatologist), mention any aches and pains (lower back pain may crop up at age 30) and discuss breast exams, sexually transmitted disease panels, Pap smears and HPV tests. Then follow up and get those tests if they’re recommended.
5. Protect your teeth
If you haven’t grasped good brushing and flossing habits at this point, what are you waiting for? Experts at the American Dental Association recommend flossing at least once a day to remove plaque from the areas between your teeth where your brush can’t reach. And there’s more: Flossing is not only good for oral health, your heart health will improve, too, as gum disease — which can start when plaque hardens into calculus or tartar — has been linked to heart disease.
6. Develop good habits in general
This is the decade that will set the tone for a healthy lifestyle for years to come. That means keeping your weight in check by eating healthy foods (and avoiding fatty, fried, processed and fast foods), exercising daily and finding surefire ways to handle stress. (Meditation and yoga classes anyone?)