May is Women’s Health Month and an opportunity to make healthy choices. With so much focus on work, chores, taking care of family, and more, healthy habits can sometimes be put on the back burner. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle goes further than eating well and working out—although those elements are extremely important. Improve your well-being by following these simple steps.
Daily physical activity helps you stay healthy. Women who exercise regularly have healthier blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and a lower risk of developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and dementia. Just 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise can help you sleep better, increase your energy, maintain a healthy weight, and control unhealthy food cravings. Cardio exercise is best, including:
Combining cardio with strength training at least twice per week helps build muscle, boost metabolism, and strengthen your bones. This is especially important for postmenopausal women, who are at higher risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
There are subtle ways to work more physical activity into your day, too.
- Take the stairs as often as possible
- Park further away from your destination
- Dance while doing chores
- Lift small weights while watching TV
Get Enough Sleep
Busy day-to-day schedules can keep you from getting a healthy amount of sleep. Sleep is essential for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being—without enough, you can run into serious problems.
The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep each night, but fewer than two-thirds of women actually get that much sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Women who regularly don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have weight control issues, memory problems, and an increased risk of developing heart disease. These tips can help you get more restful sleep:
- Don’t eat or drink too much before bed
- Stick to a bedtime routine
- Create a peaceful sleeping environment
- Avoid daytime napping
- Clear your mind before bed
- Avoid screen time an hour before bed
Eat a Balanced Diet
Eating a healthy, nourishing diet can offer a wide range of benefits.
- Lowers risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers
- Keeps skin, teeth, and eyes healthy
- Supports muscles
- Boosts immunity
- Strengthens bones
- Supports healthy pregnancies and breast feeding
- And more
Good foods provide vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are crucial to your body’s processes and development. Avoid packaged and processed foods that are full of sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, and calories. Be sure to get enough servings of:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Fiber-rich foods
- Fresh fish and lean cuts of meat and poultry
- Low-fat dairy
- Healthy fats
Schedule Your Well-Woman Exam
Many women only visit their doctor when they don’t feel well. However, visiting your doctor annually for a well-woman exam is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your health. All factors of women’s health are considered, from preventive to reproductive health. These exams can find health concerns that may have gone unnoticed, including high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels. At Frederick Health, the following services are offered during a well-woman exam:
- Physical exam
- Routine breast exam
- Routine pelvic exam
- Mammogram (depending on age)
- Pap smear (depending on age)
- Contraceptive discussions
- Vaccinations, screenings, and other preventive services
- Education and consultation for health goals
- And more
You should begin well-woman exams between the ages of 18 and 21.
Take it Easy
For many women, balancing work, family, friends, chores, and other responsibilities can lead to stress. Stress is more than just an inconvenience—it can lead to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, gastrointestinal issues, back pain, sleeping difficulties, weight gain, and more. While remedies for stress can be different for everyone, common stress-reducing activities include:
- Yoga or tai chi
- Listening to music
- Eating healthily
- Drinking water
- Keeping a journal
- Taking a break
- Spending time outside
Take steps toward your health this month. You will feel and live better!