Make this your time. Today more than ever women are pulled in many directions with competing demands on their time. The National Women’s Health Week (May 9 – May 15th) encourages women to take the time for themselves to ensure a happier and healthier life by visiting their healthcare providers to schedule checkups for early detection. In addition to checkups and screenings there are simple steps to take to ensure that you live a long, healthy, happy and productive life. You give to others: now take the time for yourself!
Here are 5 simple steps to encourage good physical and mental health:
- Get moving. Try to get at least 2+ hours of moderate physical activity and 1+ hours of vigorous activity each week. Be sure to include activities that raise your breathing and heart rate and activities that are weight bearing and strengthen your muscles. Physical activity will help maintain weight, encourage good bone and cardiovascular health.
- Eat a nutritious diet. Eat a good variety of fruits vegetables and whole grains every day. Limit food and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat and alcohol. A nutritious diet will allow you to maintain a healthy weight and guard against chronic condition such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
- Protect yourself from injury and the elements. Wear a helmet, buckle your seat belt, slather on the sunscreen and insect repellent to protect yourself. Avoid risky behaviors such as smoking or breathing secondhand smoke. Don’t drink alcohol in excess and avoid risky sexual behavior. Religiously wash your hands with soap and water to stop the spread of germs. Try to build safe and healthy relationships with family and friends. If you are in an abusive situation seek help.
- Manage your stress and get enough sleep. Try to strike a balance with work, home and play. Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Some experts suggest that you take an entire day each week devoted to doing something you are passionate about. This might be a bit unrealistic for most of us so start with taking a couple of hours a week just for you. Adopt a positive outlook and get support from family and friends when needed. If life is way out of balance or you are coping with a traumatic event seek professional help.
- Schedule appointments for check-ups and appropriate health screenings. Regular health exams and tests are important and can help find problems before they start. Contact your healthcare professional or find a provider near you with iTriageHealth.com. Women of all ages should have periodic full check-ups including weight and height throughout their lives. Below is a list of specific areas that should be addressed for women of all ages:
- Heart Health: At least every 2 years heart health should be checked including a blood pressure test. Cholesterol testing should start in your 20′s.
- Diabetes: Diabetes testing should start at the age of 45 and be repeated every three years.
- Thyroid Testing: If symptoms are present thyroid (TSH) testing should be arranged at any age.
- Bone Health: Bone health can be tested with a bone density screen and should be done after the age of 65.
- HIV Testing: Every woman should be tested for HIV at least once to determine their HIV status and retested if infection is suspected.
- Breast Health: Breast health begins with a clinical breast exam starting in your 20′s and a mammogram should be done every 1-2 years beginning in your 40′s. Breast self exams are still recommended on a monthly basis.
May is a month full of new life and good intentions. Take advantage of the sense of renewal in the air and take stock of your health and your lifestyle. Remember, it is important to take the time to care for yourself so you can continue to care for others.