Medical Advice: Honoring Women’s Health with a Nudge Toward Better Habits

Medical Advice: Honoring Women’s Health with a Nudge Toward Better Habits

With Mother’s Day Comes the Start of National Women’s Health Week

 

THE MONTH OF MAY is a time of year to honor women. Mother’s Day is observed each May to celebrate the most important women in our lives, including mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and aunts. We can honor the women in our lives by encouraging them to take steps to improve and prioritize their health.

National Women’s Health Week (NWHW) is the perfect time of year to urge women to protect and improve their health in a number of ways. NWHW is recognized annually in May beginning with Mother’s Day. This year, NWHW runs May 14-20.

Taking care of one’s health doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend including these simple steps in a woman’s routine so that she may live a safer and healthier life.

Follow these steps for women’s health:

  • Schedule routine well-women visits and preventative screenings. Regular checkups are important. Routine health care can help prevent disease, disability, and injuries. Preventive care can keep disease away or detect problems early, when treatment is more effective. Talk to a healthcare provider to learn more about what screenings and exams are needed and when.
  • Be active. Physical activity is one of the most important things a woman can do for her health. It has many benefits, including lowering one’s risk for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for women. Adults should perform at least two and a half hours of aerobic physical activity every week. Brisk walking is a great way to get in the exercise. Adults also should do strength training at least two days a week for additional health benefits. One out of three older people falls each year and women fall more often than men. Strength and balance training can help reduce the chances for falls.
  • Eat healthy. Nutrition is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. They are sources of many vitamins, minerals, and other natural substances that may help protect against chronic diseases. Limit food and drink intake that are high in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol. Learn the basics and move toward a lifestyle of healthier eating habits.
  • Prioritize mental health. Women should keep their mind and body healthy. There is emerging evidence that positive mental health is associated with improved overall health. Getting enough sleep can impact overall health, including mental health. Adults are encouraged to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Finding healthy ways to cope with stress also is important for good mental health.
  • Avoid unhealthy behaviors. Daily decisions influence overall health. Small actions can help keep a person safe and healthy and set a good example for others. Unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and tobacco use, can have a significant impact on a person’s health. Once a person quits smoking or tobacco use, it improves health and lowers the risk of heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and other smoking-related illnesses. Wearing sunscreen is an important part of keeping skin beautiful and healthy. Ultraviolet rays can damage skin, increasing a person’s risk for skin cancer and premature skin aging.

 

To find out how women can take additional steps to prioritize health based on age, visit https://www.womenshealth.gov/nwhw/by-age.

For more information about National Women’s Health Week, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at https://www.cdc.gov/features/nwhw/ or visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health website at https://www.womenshealth.gov/nwhw/about.

by JOY JACKSON, MD, Director of DOH-Polk

About the Author: Dr. Joy Jackson, an internal medicine physician, serves the community as director of the Florida Department of Health in Polk County (DOH-Polk).  For more information about DOH-Polk, visit mypolkhealth.org.

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