“I would group the 30s and 40s together. These are the decades when we’re seeing a lot of neck and back issues because people are spending more time on their computers and smart devices and working long hours. We’re seeing quite a bit of cumulative and repetitive injuries. A lot of people are weekend warriors: Work hard, play hard. During ski season, they’re out on the slopes. They’re trying to run marathons and do all the fun stuff that you want to translate from your 20s to your 30s and 40s. But they don’t heal as quickly, and they tend to injure themselves.
As far as advice, it’s really important to take breaks and stretch. If you are sitting at a desk all day working really hard, you want to get up every so often. Every hour, do some stretches. Stand-up. Sit on an exercise ball. Have an aerobics routine to get the blood flowing. Stay away from devices and ensure that you can move regularly and in a way that is a routine. Make sure you’re getting regular exercise that includes stretching, strengthening, and aerobic activity. If you play a sport, you have to train for that sport. But you also have to train to sit at a desk. Look at community resources. A lot of cities have programming such as hiking with groups and exercise programs.
“And if you are a weekend warrior and you play a sport, make sure to pace yourself. If you want to do a marathon, take it slowly at first. Give yourself time to ramp up. If you do something like surfing, you definitely need a good stretching program because you want to make sure your body is able to make these last-minute changes if it gets windy or the conditions are different.
We do see a lot of patients with back pain. It’s one of the first injuries we see in the 30s and 40s. And it’s an aha moment because you used to be fine, and then suddenly you experience back pain. Mostly it’s because of a sedentary lifestyle—too many good Netflix shows. Everything is so convenient, and we have to be more intentional about moving around. I can’t stress enough how important movement throughout the day is. That’s the secret to staying healthy.”
Dr. Van Thi Nguyenphysical therapist at Kaiser Permanente Orange County
DIET AND GUT HEALTH
“A lot of the issues that we see in 30-year-olds have to do with diet and the body’s response to food that they’re eating. It can be thought of as mind-gut disorders, such as IBS, and digestive issues including allergies or perceived allergies; sometimes it’s just intolerances to certain foods. I do think there’s a huge mind-gut problem in younger people because of the levels of stress they live under. They tend to be starting families, or are busy with work and juggling a lot of tasks; that’s ultimately stressful on the body. The mind-gut connection is our innate understanding that our bodies are connected—they’re not separate. The perception of the stress around us releases neurotransmitters in our brain, which alter our mood, the way we digest, the way we feel from an energy standpoint, the way we sleep, the way we think.
The main thing (that will help) is getting enough sleep. It’s recommended you get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. As we age, we need more sleep, and a focus on diet, hydration, exercise, stress reduction, and time spent in nature. These are the big things.”
Dr. Elizabeth Raskinsurgical director at the Digestive Health Institute at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach
“I just looked at the US surgeon general’s advisory, “Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation” again, and it’s shocking to see loneliness in the younger ages. You expect to see loneliness in the older ages, but now we see it in younger ages because people are pulling out phones all the time instead of spending time developing friends and relationships. We don’t go to movies anymore, which was a communal experience. Now everyone watches movies separately; even people in the same house watch TV shows separately because they’re streaming them.
Knowing what the problem is will help solve it. If everyone around you is in a committed relationship and you’re not but want to be, then you might feel out of step. Join a class, gym, or organization. Make it something you like to do so you don’t feel pressure to meet people, but you’re still enjoying the activity.”
Dr.Jody Rawlespsychiatry & human behavior professor at UCI School of Medicine
“When patients reach their 30s, they often notice changes in their skin: perhaps less elasticity or brightness than what they’re used to. I always stress the importance of using sunscreen on a daily basis. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher, that offers protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays. After sunscreen, and depending on what the patient wants and needs, there are topical retinoid products to reduce dullness, and antioxidants to help restore radiance. Even in their 30s, patients might be prone to acne, so I suggest oil-free and non-comedogenic products. Others might be sensitive to retinoid-based or other anti-aging serums, and that would affect what I’d recommend.”
Dr. Azin Meshkinpourdermatologist at Saddleback Dermatology Laser + Cosmetic Center in Lake Forest