Setting good habits in your 30s is key to a healthy future for young women

Alicia Vitarelli Image
Thursday, January 4, 2024
Setting good habits in your 30s is key to a healthy future for women
Setting good habits in your 30s is key to a healthy future for women

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Many of us focus on our health come January. All this month, we'll detail important steps women can take to be "Well Ahead" through the years.

For women in their 30s, it's time to set good habits.

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"The 30s is really a time that I see women coming in, really starting to think more about their long-term health and looking at things from a preventative standpoint," says Dr. Christine Marschilok of Main Line Health Conshohocken.

Thirty-nine-year-old Mandy Konowitch is a pretty typical single mom.

"My son plays for two baseball teams," notes Konowitch. "My daughter has a very extensive social life, so I feel like I'm Ubering everywhere. She also dances twice a week."

There's also a full-time job.

But after a bout with non-Hodgkins lymphoma a few years ago, Konowitch made her health a priority, too.

"So I saw how much time I missed with my kids," says Konowitch.

Dr. Marschilok says a primary care doctor can help busy women like Konowitch get on a track for long-term health.

The first step is taking a detailed family history.

"We can identify things that somebody might be at risk for," says Dr. Marschilok.

Next, a check on current habits:

"Are you active, do you like to exercise? What do you like to do? The types of food people are eating, how their stress level is, their social connections," she notes.

"At least half of all heart disease in the U.S. is related to lifestyle. And so starting that conversation at a younger age is really important," says Dr. Marschilok.

She says 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week, plus two days of strength training counters the decline in bone density and muscle mass which starts in the 30s.

"People who have better muscle strength will have, will have less joint issues and can have less injuries," she says.

She says sleep is often an issue for women in their 30s. Good quality sleep can head off heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, depression, and fatigue.

Some don't get enough, while others have sleep interruptions or insomnia.

Konowitch can relate, "I was the person that would stay up late, wake up super early, cram everything into the day, and never sit down and relax."

But she no longer cheats on sleep.

Dr. Marschilok says getting TVs out and making the bedroom a comfortable, dark, cool place to sleep can often help.

Konowitch's not only sleeping more, she's not letting stress get the best of her.

"I take a breather, I focus on me, whatever it needs to be, whether it's 20 minutes by myself reading or listening to music, or just sitting in my car listening to a podcast," she says.

Dr. Marschilok says the 30s is also a good time to adjust the diet.

"Really focus on having a plant-forward diet that is low in processed food, low in added sugar and trying to avoid a lot of red meat," the doctor says.

And, "anytime you cook at home is going to be way healthier than when you eat out or get something on the go," she says.

Konowitch found that intermittent fasting helped curb her tendency to binge eat. She's overeating less and has lost nearly 30 pounds.

And she gets as much activity with the kids as possible so they develop good habits, too.

"I love when we're at the shore of the summer, we can ride our bikes together, we can walk, you know, just get outside," she says.