At age 40, you may start to experience the effects of hormonal changes as perimenopause begins to set in (menopause arrives, on average, at age 51). One thing that doesn't change: your ability to fend off serious health challenges by eating well and exercising.
Do This: Stretch
Feeling a little stiff? Poor flexibility in people over 40 has been associated with arterial rigidity, which means your heart has to work extra hard to pump blood—potentially leading to a heart attack or stroke. Here's the good news: Researchers think that stretching your muscles may also make your arteries more flexible. Use this easy, gym-class-inspired sit-and-reach test to figure out how limber you are, then try Dr. Oz's exercises to help loosen up
- Sit on the ground, legs extended, hip-width apart, with a yardstick positioned lengthwise between them so your heels are aligned with the 15-inch mark.
- Slowly lean as far forward as possible with your arms outstretched, sliding your fingertips along the yardstick with the goal of reaching past your feet.
- Return to starting position and relax for a few seconds. Repeat exercise to obtain the most accurate measurement. For women, a mark of 15 inches or less indicates poor flexibility.