Self-care in your 20s is all about establishing a healthy foundation for the years ahead. In your 20s, your body is in its peak form. Your resting metabolic rate is firing and your bone density, muscle mass and heart health are in top shape.
This is the age where burning the candle at both ends doesn’t knock you out for days. But don’t let all that energy and vitality go to waste. Use it to build a strong foundation to carry you through life. Here are six lifestyle adjustments you can make that will help prioritise your health and body.
It’s easy to rely on processed, convenience foods. However, even at this age, you’ll soon notice less energy if your diet is full of nutrient-deficient foods. Follow recipe blogs, and get inspired to cook using fresh ingredients.
Dietician Bronwen Greenfield says “This is the age to focus on creating healthy habits that will set you up for life. A simple strategy is to consume two servings of fruit and at least five servings of vegetables a day. This will ensure it’s a habit by the time you reach your 30s.”
Iron deficiency is common at this age so it’s important to ensure that you’re eating enough iron-rich foods, such as lean meats or non-animal sources like legumes, wholegrain and leafy greens. Keep in mind that plant-based sources of iron care are not as well absorbed. So pair these foods with a source of vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, tomato, or capsicum, and consume only “iron-blockers” like coffee separately to help increase the amount of iron absorbed.
Now is the best time to explore the fitness options. Find out what works for you and stick to it. Most people jump straight to running but that’s not the only fitness option, especially if you hate running. You can always try participating in sports that include running, like basketball, badminton, or tennis. Or workouts you can easily do yourself at home like yoga or pilates. Find out what works best for you.
Aside from yellowing teeth and bad breath, smoking also increases your future risk of menstrual cycle and fertility problems, osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease and stroke. It can also increase your susceptibility to infections such as pneumonia and Influenza, and lower the levels of protective antioxidants in the blood.
Your bone dentistry has nearly reached its peak age. The sooner you start protecting your bones, the more likely you are to have strong bones for life. Eating a diet rich in calcium (1000 mg daily) and ensuring you are getting enough sunlight to make vitamin D, and exercising are three key factors to help build and maintain strong bones.
It’s impossible to have skin damage as we age. But you can help delay the onset of wrinkles, sagging skin and sun damage by diligently applying sunscreen to your face and body every day.
Sticking to a balanced sleep-wake cycle might not be the top of your list at this age, but it’s important for your mental and physical well-being. Studies show that people who don’t get enough quality sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, with lack of sleep also affecting recovery time if you do get sick.
This post was first published in The Singapore Women’s Weekly August 2020 print issue.