Women’s Health Week is May 12-18, and we couldn’t think of a better time to take steps toward becoming a healthier version of you. Everyone has small changes they can do to be healthier—substitute water for sugary drinks, eat more greens, go to sleep earlier… the list goes on. But, women have their own set of health challenges and changes that can be made. Below, we outline a few that can make a difference in your life.
Everyone experiences stress, and each person handles it in their own way. For some women, stress can mean headaches, skin problems, over or under eating, upset stomach, lack of energy, anxiety, depression and more. Women naturally have higher instances of anxiety and depression than men, so keeping stress under control can help to lower your chances of developing these conditions.
Establish a routine that can help you to manage your stress in a healthy way. Take a walk or do physical activity, talk to a therapist or trusted friend about the emotions you are experiencing, establish goals for yourself and take time to stay connected with those you care about.
There is always a new diet fad making its way around the world, but you don’t have to fall victim to the promise of “fast weight loss”. The truth is, diets may provide fast results, but they are not sustainable for a long time. Instead, focus on fueling your body with whole foods and the nutrition it needs. Cutting out sugars and processed foods and replacing them with fruits, vegetables and whole grains in controlled portions can make a huge difference in your health and how you feel.
Get Enough Calcium
Getting enough calcium helps your bones as well as your overall health. Calcium plays a vital role in keeping organs and skeletal muscles working properly. The body gets the calcium it needs through a process called bone remodeling, which is when the body breaks down and rebuilds bones. When the bone breakdown happens faster than it can be rebuilt, bone density is compromised.
It is recommended that premenopausal women should consume at least 1000 mg of calcium each day, while postmenopausal women should consume 1200 mg.
Heart disease contributes to about 1 in 4 female deaths, and is the leading cause for both African American and white women in the United States. Almost two-thirds of women who die from heart disease have no symptoms. In addition to getting a yearly physical, adding cardio into your workouts can have great benefits for your heart. The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise.
Some examples of moderate aerobic activities include:
- Biking under 10 mph
- Water aerobics
- Brisk walking
Some examples of vigorous exercise include:
- Hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack
- Jumping rope
- Biking faster than 10 mph
Think about Fertility
If you are thinking of starting a family, it may be time to start thinking about your fertility. Here are a few steps you can take to increase your chances of conception.
- Stop smoking. Smoking ages your ovaries and can lead to premature egg loss.
- Limit alcohol intake. Heavy drinking has been linked to ovulation disorders.
- Avoid over exercising. While maintaining a healthy weight is ideal, too much vigorous activity can inhibit ovulation and reduce production of the hormone progesterone.
- Protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are a leading cause of infertility for women.
If you do not wish to become pregnant, consult your doctor about the birth control option that is right for you.
Get Plenty of Sleep
On average, adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. When your body lacks sleep and rest, it can affect your focus, thinking and overall mood. The best way to figure out if you are meeting your sleep needs is to pay attention to how you feel each morning. If you consistently wake up feeling tired and depleted, try going to bed even 30 minutes earlier. You may be surprised at how rested you feel.
See a Doctor
Getting a yearly physical is important, even after you have hit adulthood. During this exam, doctors will check your vital signs, such as heart rate, for any abnormalities. For women, a yearly exam will also include a breast exam to screen for any lumps. Be sure to mention any questions you may have regarding your health—the doctor is there to answer them!
In addition to a yearly visit with a physician, it is also equally as important to schedule a yearly exam with your gynecologist, even if you are not planning on having children.
If you are overdue for your yearly exam, stop by and visit us. We would love to see you.