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Women and Health: 4 Steps to a Healthier You

You’re never too young or too old to make changes in your lifestyle that benefits your overall health. But in today’s fast-paced society, it’s very easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and put making healthy decisions on a back burner. In recognition of the 18th Annual National Women’s Health Week, we’ll explore four steps to a healthier you that women can incorporate into their life at any age.

1) Regular Well-Woman Exams

Your well-woman exam is an opportunity for you to examine your overall health, which is why it is recommended by obstetricians and gynecologists that this exam be done annually. This exam will usually include screenings (height, weight, body mass index, and blood pressure), evaluations and counseling, and a breast and pelvic exam to assess reproductive health.

Depending on your age, family and genetic history, lifestyle, and health history, the exam could include the following:

  • Additional screenings – blood, urine, STD, and cancer (colorectal and cervical)
  • Bone mineral density testing
  • Cholesterol and sugar levels to assess risk for heart disease and diabetes

While there is varied opinions about the age women should have their first OB/GYN visit, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that women have their first Pap test at 21 years-old. Although it’s not part of the actual well-woman exam, women who are 40 and over should begin receiving mammography screenings.

2) Healthy Eating

Healthy eating has many benefits, and for women, some of those benefits include lowering the risk of dying from chronic diseases. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women in the U.S., while stroke ranks number three.  

Some foods that help prevent heart disease, stroke, and other diseases that you should include into your everyday eating choices are:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole Grains
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Fish and lean red meats
  • Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats

As women, there are certain vitamins and nutrients that our body needs, which requires a higher intake than men. Some of those nutrients include iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin B9 (folate).

Try to avoid or eat less food that contain added sugar, high sodium, trans fat and other unhealthy fats. Although it can be refreshing and relaxing, watch your alcohol intake as it can be loaded with calories, so be sure to drink alcohol in moderation.

3) Healthy Active Lifestyle

Exercise is an essential component of a woman’s overall health. According to the Physical Activity and Health Surgeon General Report for Women, more than 60 percent of women in the U.S. do not engage in the recommended amount of physical activity. This is why NWHW focuses on empowering women to make their health a priority, and make the necessary changes to incorporate healthy lifestyle habits.

Women of all ages benefit from regular moderate amount of physical activity, which should include aerobic and strength-training activities. You should engage in at least 5 hours of moderate intensity workouts or 2 hours and 30 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity weekly.

Research suggests that regular physical activity can also lower your risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Unhealthy cholesterol levels
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Depression

For older women, physical activity may also help to increase bone density, muscles and joints,  control weight and reduce body fat, improve functional health, and improve sleep quality.

4) Engage in Safe Behaviors

When it comes to women’s health and wellness, try to avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, distracted driving, and not practicing car and road rules safety. An approximate 14 percent of women smoke cigarettes, which is the cause of 80 percent of lung cancer deaths. Smoking can trigger the development of numerous other diseases, and more than 170,000 American women are dying from those diseases each year.  

In regards to distracted driving, every year since 2011, women with a cell phone have been in more fatal crashes compared to male drivers. Specifically younger women aging from 15 to 39, are most at-risk for being involved in a fatal distracted driving accident.

Implementing these 4 to steps above will help to quickly jumpstart your journey to a healthier you.



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