Women’s Health: Seven Tips for a Healthier You
Prioritizing your health – both physical and mental – is always important. Whether it’s due to the normal demands of a busy family or career, many women have put off taking care of their general health and wellness needs.
National Women’s Health Month is a great reminder for women to reflect on their individual health needs and take steps to improve their overall health. It’s never too early or too late to begin living in a way that will better your health today and in the years ahead.
Here are seven ways women can take charge of their health.
#1 - Eat a Healthy Diet
- A balanced diet is important to living a healthy lifestyle and improving your overall health. The food and drink choices you make every day affect your health now and later in life.
- Eat more vegetables, snack on fruit more often, and cook at home more each week.
- Limit packaged and processed foods, which are often full of sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, and calories.
- Explore suggestions for eating at home and in restaurants to ensure balanced, weight-healthy meals here.
- Vitamins and minerals are essential for keeping your body functioning well. It’s usually best to get vitamins and minerals from many different types of food in all of the food groups. Fill your plate with fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains, and a variety of protein foods to build a healthy plate.
#2 – Get Moving and Stay Active
- Being physically active is one of the most important actions you can take at any age to improve your health. Women of all ages and abilities benefit from being active for at least 30 minutes every day. Since physical activity generally means any movement that enhances health, even actions such as gardening and cleaning count as physical activity.
- Create a weekly activity plan with a goal to get your heart beating faster through 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week.
- Break your activity into small sessions. Go for a 15- or 30-minute walk during your breaks.
- Incorporating muscle-strengthening activity, including lifting weights or using resistance bands, will help prevent muscle loss due to aging and immobility.
- Find a routine to fit your needs based on your age, stage of life and abilities. If you are pregnant, there are ways that you can exercise safely but it is important to talk to your doctor before starting or changing your physical activity.
#3 – Practice Self-Care for your Mental Health
- Good mental health is essential to overall well-being. More than 1 in 5 women in the United States experienced a mental health condition in the past year, such as depression or anxiety. Many mental health conditions, such as depression and bipolar disorder, affect more women than men or affect women in different ways from men.
- Build a toolbox full of healthy ways to cope with stress. Some suggestions for simple, everyday actions to reduce stress include scheduling quiet time for meditation or yoga, reading, taking a walk, stretching, journaling your thoughts, listening to music and spending time with family and friends.
- Get help from a professional if you need it. Just as you talk to your doctor about physical symptoms you’re experiencing, it’s important to let your doctor know if you have mental health concerns.
- Pay attention to changes in your mood. If you or anyone you know is experiencing changes in thinking, mood, behavior, and/or thoughts of self-harm, reach out for help. You can call 2-1-1 to reach the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay for free, confidential help, or call 9-1-1.
#4 – Prioritize Sleep
- Sleep deficiency can lead to physical and mental health problems, including heart disease and depression, as well as injuries and loss of productivity. Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
- About 1 in 3 adults do not regularly get the recommended amount of sleep they need to protect their health, and about 50 to 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder.
- Follow a routine for going to sleep and going to bed and waking up at the same time each day – even on weekends – to improve your sleep habits.
- If you think you may have a sleep problem, track your sleep in a sleep diary. Sharing the diary with your health care provider can help him or her diagnose a potential sleep problem.
#5 - Get Regular Check-Ups and Screenings
- Schedule a well-woman visit with your primary care provider or gynecologist every year. The well-woman visit is an important way to help you stay healthy. Well-woman visits include a full checkup, separate from any other visit for sickness or injury.
- Getting regular screenings as recommended by your primary care provider can help detect issues before they become major health concerns. Screenings tests may include PAP smears, mammograms, bone density scans, stress tests, cholesterol screenings, blood pressure screenings, and other preventive health screenings you may be behind on.
#6 – Get Recommended Vaccines
- Realize that protection from some childhood vaccines can wear off over time, increasing your risk for vaccine-preventable diseases. Some immunizations are recommended each year, like the seasonal flu vaccine. Some newer vaccines may not have been available when you were a child.
- To stay on top of the vaccines recommended for adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommendations on vaccines for adults bases on age, prior vaccinations, health and lifestyle here.
#7 – Practice Healthy Behaviors
- Monitor alcohol intake and avoid illicit drugs, including drugs that are not prescribed to you.
- Quit smoking and vaping. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and affects a person’s overall health. If you are ready to quit, BayCare has information about smoking cessation support here.
- Stay safe in the sun. Protecting your skin from damaging UV rays can reduce your risk of developing skin cancer, sunburn and premature skin aging like age spots. The Centers for Disease Control recommends wearing protective clothing, limiting time in the sun and using sunscreen with at least SPF 15 that offers broad-spectrum protection.
We know that women’s health is more than just a standard checklist of symptoms, and the type of care you need is different at each stage of life. Whether you are looking for preventive care, family planning resources, or help through menopause, be sure to check out this list of online resources to help you live life to fullest during every step of your journey.