Explore Healthy Habits for a Healthier Life
Your health is essential to your journey through life. Do you know where you are on that journey?
Ever since the coronavirus landed on everyone’s radar earlier this year, it’s safe to assume most of us have been keeping a stronger finger on the pulse of our personal health. Therefore, the timing could not have been more perfect for National Women’s Health Week, slated for May 10-16, 2020. This week is a nationwide effort set forth by an alliance of government organizations to raise awareness about the steps women can take to improve their health and well-being. It focuses on integrating simple preventative and positive health behaviors into everyday activities. This is also the prefect time to remind women (and everyone, actually!) to consult with their health care professionals about what tests are right for them, when they should get those tests and how often they should get those tests.
National Women’s Health Week is designed to help you discover the path to better health that is best suited for the unique person you are. As with any information presented, please consult with your physician or health care provider about the appropriate plan of action for you.
Maintain Regular Checkups
It’s important to make time for healthy habits, such as regular exercise, eating the right foods, and managing stress. It is equally important to schedule those routine health screenings which can detect potential problems early. Regular health screenings may even save your life. By detecting a disease early, you have a wider window of opportunity by which to prevent complications and improve your quality of life. There are myriad screenings vital to good health, and for women this list includes the following essential routine tests: blood pressure screening, cholesterol check, pap smears, mammograms, bone density screening, blood glucose testing, colon cancer screening, body mass index, skin examination, and a dental examination.
Physical activity is important for women throughout all phases of their lives. Any physical activity is better than no physical activity. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the more time you spend each week doing physical activity, the lower your risk is for dying early.
“Staying positive and doing what makes you feel confident and happy is crucial to a female’s health. Whether this be meditative yoga, long hikes outside, or heavy strength training, do what makes you feel amazing,” emphasized Karah Jones, owner of Angel Competition Bikinis, who is dedicated to helping women of all ages feel confident in their bodies. “If you feel confident, you are more likely to have a more positive outlook and lifestyle.” Jones indicated it is important, no matter your age, to take control of your physical health, which also translates to improved mental health.
“It’s all about creating a positive lifestyle,” she noted.
Many women may think a good diet coupled with aerobic exercise is all they need. However, strength training should not be overlooked. Strength training will bring out definition and make you stronger. Three days a week of this type of exercise should be sufficient. Aim for 15 to 45 minutes per session, engaging in exercises that utilize your whole body in a functional way. In real life, you will stand, lunge, bend and lift, so the strength training exercises you perform should mimic those movements. Strength training is also great for improving coordination.
A Healthy Diet
After the age of 25, women need to reduce their daily calorie intake while also increasing their physical activity. At every stage of a woman’s life, nutrition and regular exercise should go hand-in-hand to achieve good health and optimal energy. The choices you make with respect to food and drinks every day affect your health not only now but also later in life. Choosing healthy foods and drinks can help to prevent or manage health problems that affect women.
Women have unique nutritional needs, requiring more of certain vitamins during pregnancy or after menopause. The vitamins and minerals of particular importance to women include calcium, iron, and folic acid. Fiber is also vital to lowering the risk of future health problems. The nutritional needs of women vary during different stages of life, such as when a woman is pregnant, breastfeeding or after menopause. Women are also more likely to experience health issues related to nutrition, such as celiac disease and lactose intolerance.
If you want to eat healthier, the key is to introduce more vegetables into your diet, snack on fruit more often and cook at home throughout the week. Fruits and vegetables are key, and half of your plate should feature these at meals. Protein is essential, as well, so aim towards lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans and peas, nuts, seeds and soy products. Seafood is also a great source of protein, and weekly recommendations call for eight to 10 ounces – or about two servings – a week. Whole grains should also be a part of the picture, and these include brown rice, whole-wheat pasta or whole-wheat bread. Dairy products need to be factored into the equation, and women should get three cups of dairy daily. Dairy gives you the calcium you need, whether in the form of milk, yogurt or low-fat cheese or even kale and broccoli. Don’t forget the oils, too. Use oils from plants instead of solid fats such as butter, margarine or coconut oil. Avoid packaged foods like chips and salad dressing. Refrain from excess consumption of food with added sugars, trans or saturated fats and sodium.
There are quite a few unique health risks of smoking associated with women. While smoking does damage to nearly every organ in the body, women who smoke are at risk for several other issues, including irregular or painful periods, reduced estrogen levels, early menopause with worse symptoms, and difficulties getting pregnant. Additionally, women are more likely than men to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which worsens over time and for which there is no cure. Women smokers beyond the age of 35 increase their risk of dying from heart disease compared to men, and they also have a greater risk of dying from an abdominal aortic aneurism. Smoking also puts women at an increased risk of cervical cancer.
Prioritize Mental Health
Research has shown positive mental health is associated with improved overall health. Everyone experiences stress in life. The key is to find ways to cope with that stress. These may include engaging in more physical exercise; talking to someone; avoiding caffeine, alcohol and nicotine; or simply practicing some relaxation exercises.
Practice Healthy Behaviors
No matter how small the action, the decisions you make on a daily basis can affect your health. For example, getting enough sleep is important, as it affects how you feel and perform during the day. Aim for at least seven hours of sleep each night. Avoid distracted driving. Only take prescription medicine as directed by your health care provider. Put down the cigarettes and stay up-to-date on recommended cancer screening tests. Manage your weight and refrain from excessive alcohol use. Before your next doctor visit, review your family health history and write down any questions or issues you might have so you can discuss these with your health care provider.
When it comes to overall health and well-being for women, there is no “one size fits all” plan. Every woman – and person – is unique. We all have our own reasons for desiring to be healthy, along with our own ways of achieving that goal. The steps to better health are not always easy, but when you discover what works best for you, you will be more likely to stick to those good habits to support a heathier, happier you.
Be sure to join Angel Competition Bikinis at The Angel Fashion Show, scheduled for July 18, 2020 at The Midland Theater in Kansas City. This event is designed to empower women of all ages to feel confident in their bodies. For more information, go to acbikinis.com
Sources: womenshealth.gov, medicalnewstoday.com, smokefree.gov, and webmd.com