In honor of Women's Health Week, NIH Office of Women's Health recommends several important steps you can take to improve or maintain good health. All of these steps (listed below) are ones you've seen before. In fact, you've likely seen them many times. Therefore, it isn't the "what" but "how" you get these things accomplished with a busy, hectic schedule that can leave people stumped pondering their schedules over an ice cream sundae.
So first up to bad is physical activity. If you can't seem to meet the physical activity requirements, at the very minimum, strap on a pedometer or accelerometer and get 10,000 steps a day. Park further away, walk to your coworkers office instead of emailing, take a trip to a Super Target, and find other ways to add steps in. Also, start with small steps - do 15 minutes of activity a few days a week and work your way up. You'll soon find you have the time, you just needed to get better organized, make those phone calls while you walk or hop on a stationary bike if you want to watch the full hour of Dancing With the Stars.
Secondly, eat a healthy diet. Your diet does not have to be perfect, trust me, no one's is. However, it should be produce-packed, include low fat or fat free dairy, lean meats & poultry, fatty fish, nuts and seeds. If you are missing out on any of the major groups (meat for instance), take a look at the nutrients you may be falling short on as well.
As far as the last three on this list, they are no brainers. However, many people put other things first in life prior to going to their regular checkup (trust me, you can miss work for this), finding ways to manage stress and getting plenty of rest. As I always say, either pay now or pay more later. Think of it like interest on a car. If you pay for that car up front, you'll pay thousands less then if you pay 3 or 5% or more in interest. In a similar manner, if you take some time now, follow these steps below and take care of yourself, you'll pay a lot less later (both in terms of healthcare costs, lost time from work and lost time from life). For more about Women's Health Week and women's health in general, click here.
- Get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity, or a combination of both each week
- Eating a nutritious diet
- Visit a health care professional to receive regular checkups and preventive screenings
- Avoid risky behaviors, such as smoking and not wearing a seatbelt
- Pay attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress