The 10 Year Challenge (if we knew then what we know now)

Half of you have done it and the other half have thought about doing it. It’s the 10 year challenge and it’s every other post on social media. So what is it and where is it coming from? Author and tech consultant Kate O'Neill, started a cascade of articles warning that data from the challenge could be used by companies like Facebook or Amazon to train facial recognition algorithms. In an NPR interview she said it could be used for good, like finding missing children years later, or for bad like insurance companies using it to see if you look to be aging faster than others in your age group. Facebook claims The 10-year challenge is a user-generated meme that started on its own, without our involvement. Whatever the reason for it, the 10 year challenge got us thinking. If we could go back 10 years, what would we have done different, health-wise, if anything?

Every decade or so, it seems like something goes haywire in our bodies. Here are some changes that can happen in our 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s, but don’t worry, because you can prevent them. For all of these, going into the decade healthy makes a huge difference.


For both men and women in their thirties, flexibility can take a dive. Not only because you're likely to sit in a chair for hours every day, but also because many of the activities you do, like running, weight lifting, or cycling, don't call for a full range of motion. Try incorporating yoga into your daily routine, just going through some stretches and poses during the day, and try to squeeze in a class once a week. The next big one is weight gain in our thirties because we don’t need as much fuel. We are adults now, we are no longer a “growing boy or girl.” Your metabolism drops up to 5% per decade. Get out of the grazing habit and stay active to maintain your weight.


In our thirties and definitely by 40, we notice changes to our skin. It may seem a bit duller and you may be developing fine wrinkles because you don’t make new skin cells as quickly. Get into a good skincare regimen and dunk-tank your body in SPF.

A big addition for women at age 40 is getting screened for breast cancer. Beginning at age 40, you should be screened for breast cancer with mammography every one to two years. Guidelines on breast cancer screening vary, so talk to your health care professional about what’s right for you.

Men and women in their forties might notice, if it’s not already started, that their vision is changing. You may need corrective lenses or glasses to sharpen your vision. The iPhones and computers are not helping our vision so be sure to get the blue light blocking glasses like these or programs that can do that on your computer.

For women in their 40s heading into 50s, weight gradually shifts from your hips and thighs to your abdomen, shoulders and chest. If you don't have a regular exercise and a strength training program, it's never too late to start and this can make a huge difference on your body composition, metabolism and sleep. Strength training is also great for bone health, another concern at this age.

Next, a perk of the fifties is we get happier. A recent AARP survey showed that from your early 50s on, happiness rises significantly over time. One explanation for the trend: years of experience. As you get older, you know that bad times are going to pass.


Take care of your heart, especially in your 50s. Your heart's walls are getting thicker and its valves are stiffer. Also, many people in their 50s will start to develop the first signs of heart disease. Thanks to new treatments and screenings though, the death rate from heart disease declined 27.8 percent from 1997 to 2007. The big milestone some women dread and others welcome is menopause The average age of menopause for U.S. women is 51 but changes can start a decade before you cycle actually stops.


And a top concern in our 60s is staying sharp. The growth of new brain cells continues into your 60s and the capacity to learn new things is strong. Part of your brain wiring so to speak starts to burn out with age, but most of us compensate by relying on other parts of our brain, and our past experiences, to make decisions. "That's the 'wisdom' that accrues with older age," says Gary J. Kennedy, M.D. Some of the best prevention for cognitive decline is regular exercise, intellectual stimulation and plenty of social interaction with family and friends.

The great news is that no matter what decade you are in, a healthy lifestyle can positively affect all of these things. Your lifestyle will and should evolve over the years but it all adds up. We’ve said it before, how do you want to spend you 90th birthday? In a bed, tired and sick or dancing to your favorite song from “back in the day”. We can’t prevent everything but we can make a difference.

Want a peek at how your face will age? Try the Aging Booth app (it's guaranteed to make you start drinking more water and bathe in SPF!).

Listen to the full episode here.

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