National Women’s Health Week begins Monday, May 10, as recently proclaimed by President Obama. Created by the Department of Health Services, National Women’s Health Week empowers women to make their health a top priority.
With this year’s theme of “It’s Your Time,” the nationwide initiative encourages women to take simple steps for a longer, healthier, and happier life. What are some of the actions you can take to help improve your own health, and your children’s and grandchildren’s health?
- Getting enough exercise is one of the most important things you can do for optimal health. Your target should be at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity, or a combination of both each week. Walking, swimming, aerobics, biking and sports like tennis and golf are excellent ways to have fun while optimizing your physical fitness.
- Eat a nutritious diet, low in fat and high in vegetables and fruits.
- Visit a health care professional to receive regular checkups and preventive screenings. Good choices include having your blood pressure and cholesterol checked and a baseline pap smear in your 20’s. Have your thyroid checked in your 30’s, especially if you experience unreasonable fatigue, weight gain or hair loss. In your 40’s, have a baseline mammogram and blood sugar screening to rule out diabetes. In your 50’s, it’s important to have colon screening done. In your 60’s, add in eye screening for glaucoma and macular degeneration, as many vision troubles are diagnosed at this time.
- Avoid risky behaviors, such as smoking and not wearing a seat belt or helmet while cycling
- Pay attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress. Seek out the advice of a counselor if you feel your stress is becoming unmanageable.
- Check your skin monthly for moles – it’s vital to avoid skin cancer
- Get your eyes checked every two years
- Don’t forget to stay up to date on your immunizations – tetanus every five years, and yearly flu and pneumonia injections.
Take the time this week to schedule your necessary doctor visits. Remember, you aren’t just doing it for yourself, but for your entire family!