With everything women must juggle in daily life, it’s difficult to prioritize health. However, taking care of yourself is the best way to show up in the world. It also helps ensure you feel your best and can be here for your loved ones for years to come. When it comes to women’s health, there are a few key areas to focus on.
Below are nine ways you can work on improving your overall health. Many of them aren’t a huge surprise, but it helps to have reminders about where and how to start. Try incorporating each of these actions into your daily life.
1. Move More
Most of us have sedentary jobs and get from place to place in cars, not on foot. This can make it very easy to get through a day with hardly any physical movement. But getting enough exercise is so important for good health. It can reduce your risks of chronic diseases like heart disease and osteoporosis.
Look for ways you can fit more exercise into your day. At least 30 minutes is the recommended amount, but you don’t have to do it all at once. For example, you could do 10-minute increments throughout the day.
Exercise also doesn’t have to be unpleasant. Think of activities you might enjoy, such as walking, biking, hiking, or yoga. Or, try these simple exercises you can do anywhere.
2. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Most American women don’t get near enough fruits and vegetables in their daily diets. But fresh produce contains the vitamins, minerals, and fiber you need to support a healthy weight and digestive system. Fruits and veggies are also low in calories and fat without any cholesterol.
If you’re not used to eating many fruits and vegetables, try out a few new ones each week. Search for recipes online that use ones you’re interested in. Often, cooking or preparing them in the right way is key.
3. Focus on Whole Foods
Eat as many natural, organic, whole foods as you can, like:
- Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Beans and legumes
- Whole grains
- Fresh meats, fish, and eggs
“Crowd out” any fast foods, sugar, or processed items you currently eat with more of the whole foods above. Again, finding simple but healthy recipes can help a lot.
The more whole foods you can eat, the better your chance of preventing diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, as well as reducing risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity.
Also, make sure you are eating often enough and getting enough healthy calories. Many women actually undereat for fear of gaining weight. However, this slows your metabolism—making it harder to lose weight—and can lead to unhealthy behaviors like binge eating. Worry less about calories and more about eating plenty of healthy, whole foods.
4. Sleep Enough
Just like eating well, getting enough sleep reduces your risk of chronic disease. Plus, it helps you make healthier choices throughout the day. Work up to 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
5. Be Safe in the Sun
Avoid staying in the sun too long without protection or proper sunscreen. Sun exposure increases your risk of skin cancer, even on cloudy or cold days. Women should also monitor any changes in their skin, such as irregular moles or freckles, and talk to their doctor about them.
6. Eat Mindfully
Mindful eating helps you slow down and enjoy each bite of your food. It reduces uncomfortable overeating as well as stressful feelings around food. Slow down with each meal or snack and take time to feel gratitude for your ability to access healthy food.
7. Make Time for Self-Care
Self-care is an often-neglected factor in women’s health. Many women are overworked and over-stressed. Make downtime for yourself a priority. Schedule it into your daily routine, even if it’s for a short time at first.
8. Quit or Avoid Smoking
The impact of smoking on women’s health is great. It increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, reproductive issues, and lung disease. If you currently smoke, take steps to quit.
9. Get Regular Checkups
All women should get these two exams:
- The women’s wellness exam with a breast screening and Pap test every three years, or every five years if results have been normal and they are over the age of 40.
- An annual physical with their primary care physician (PCP) that checks blood pressure, height, weight, and screens for cervical cancer.
These exams are critical for making sure all is well and checking anything serious early on. You can see other screening tests for women here.
The Bottom Line
Follow these women’s health tips to nourish your precious body and mind on a long-term basis. As a strong and powerful woman, you deserve to feel the best you can. That starts with caring for yourself each and every day.