06/09/2014 06:28 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

5 Midlife Habits You Can't Afford To Put Off Any Longer

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Between your demanding boss, your expensive kids, your nagging parents, and (mostly) lovable spouse, it's no wonder most of us lose sight of our own selves in middle age. Your dreams, hobbies and, yes, sometimes, even personal hygiene, fall to a lower spot on our burgeoning priority lists.

We get that you're busy, but these are the habits that are just too darn important to put off any longer:

1. Mind your toes.

No, this doesn't only apply to summer sandal season. And guys, we're not just talking to the ladies here. Nobody wants to see your cracked heels and overgrown toenails. But difficulty bending over to reach your toes or even being able to see them (ahem) as we get older means these forgotten heroes hardly get any TLC even though they carry us through thousands of steps every day.

Pedicures are good for more than just perfectly polished tootsies. The exfoliation helps remove built up dead skin cells, meaning smoother, softer, younger-looking feet. Our favorite part is the massage, which is the perfect way to de-stress and literally kick your legs back (oh -- and massage chairs aren't bad either). The added bonus -- it can help prevent one of the most obvious giveaways of aging: varicose veins. With age, your veins lose their resilience, becoming stretchy and weak, and showing up as those unsightly bulges in our thighs, calves, and even feet. Elevating your legs and getting the blood pumping a little better, can help prevent varicose veins or at least slow down their development.

2. Dedicate to flossing.

You brush twice a day and even swish your mouthwash, every so often, yet your decades-old spool of floss sits forgotten and collecting dust in the underbelly of your medicine cabinet. While you may think of flossing as "optional," some dentists say it's actually essential. "If you were stuck on a desert island and a boat could bring only one thing, you’d want it to bring floss,” dentist Samuel B. Low, one-time president of the American Academy of Periodontology told WebMD.

Besides removing annoying and unsightly food particles from your teeth, flossing has many other benefits. Flossing can help you keep your teeth longer, prevent gingivitis, help prevent dry mouth, and cavities. There's also some speculation that flossing can actually help prevent heart disease. Reports have shown that people with some type of periodontal disease are around twice as likely to have heart disease.

3. Make sunscreen your new best friend.

You may have gotten used to sub-zero temps and wearing your winter coat in spring, but summer seems to be here now, and that means sun, sand, and wrinkles. Yep, up to 80 percent of wrinkles, crows feet, and age spots are due to UV exposure, according to one landmark 2013 study.

If you lived it up using tanning beds and oiling your body on the beach in your younger days, chances are it's catching up with you now. UV rays are responsible for the breakdown of the elastin in our skin -- the fibers that give your skin its elasticity and resilience. That's where your wrinkles, sagging skin, and fine lines come into action.

So next time you leave the house, don't leave without protecting yourself from aging and skin cancers. One study proved that wearing just SPF 15 can help you age nearly a quarter less than if you didn't wear sun protection. And if you're turned off by thicky, greasy, overly-scented sunscreens. Many facial moisturizers, and body lotions are now available with varying levels of SPF.

4. Buckle up. Really.

We've all seen the PSAs about not texting-and-driving, which is a serious problem. But millions of us are guilty of not strapping ourselves in, unless, we see a police car driving behind us. According to the Centers for Disease Control, over two million adults are sent to hospitals as a result of car crashes each year. Seat belts have the power to reduce crash-related deaths and injuries by up to 50 percent. That's huge.

Besides, now that many of us have teenage kids hitting the roads, don't you want to set the right example for them? You'd make them buckle-up, wouldn't you?

5. Have breakfast. Every. Single. Day.

No, a grande caramel macchiato (and a handful of M&M's from the front desk) does not count as "breakfast." You might have been able to get away with a much less balanced diet when you were younger, but there's no time like the present to be good to your body and cinch that waistline.

Just making an extra 10 minutes to grab a yogurt and granola or some oatmeal with fruit can provide tons of benefits that last the day and then some. People who eat breakfast tend to have better concentration, lower cholesterol, and even weigh less. We already know our metabolisms just aren't what they once used to be -- but don't fool yourself into thinking that skipping breakfast will save you calories you can load up on later. Doctors say that skipping breakfast can actually make you binge later and cause you to mindlessly snack throughout the day, which can pack on the pounds over time. Breakfast gets your metabolism revved-up after fasting for several hours after dinner and while you sleep, meaning you have more energy and more fat-burning benefits throughout the day. In fact, one study by the National Weight Control Registry, nearly 80 percent of people who lost weight and kept it off said they ate breakfast regularly.

Here are some great ideas for quick and healthy morning fuel.



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