Six Tips to Keep Women Strong, Healthy and Fit
Life expectancy for women in the United States is 81 years, five years longer than men. Over the course of those many productive decades, women go to school and work, have babies and raise families. However, women are prone to heart disease, cancer, stroke and other conditions that jeopardize health and happiness. Here are six tips to keep your body and mind strong and well, for all your years of life.
Don’t Smoke. Period.
Smoking can increase rates of many health problems, including heart disease, which is the number one killer of women, and lung cancer, which kills twice as many women each year as breast cancer. Smoking can lead to increased risk of infertility, infant mortality, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, low bone density and depression, while quitting smoking results in a marked decrease in disease risk. Smoking also deprives the skin of oxygen and nutrients and triggers the breakdown of collagen and elastin, which leads to premature signs of aging, like wrinkles around the eyes, lips and nose, uneven skin tone, age spots, reduced skin elasticity, damaged teeth and gums, and hair loss.
Stay on Top of Your Annual Wellness Checks
Women obviously have some specific health concerns that need to be addressed, but it is also important that you talk with your physician so they can take your personal medical history into account and advise what particular screenings are most important for you at each stage of your life. But, here are some general rules:
- Mammograms: Starting at age 40, women should get a yearly mammogram. At 55, you can switch to every two years. However, if there is a family history of breast cancer, screenings may begin as early as age 20. Women should also consult their physician on the best way to perform monthly breast self-exams.
- Pap Smears: Women should get a pap smear at least every three years from age 21 to age 65.
- Cholesterol and Blood Pressure: Women over age 20 should have annual cholesterol and blood pressure checks with more frequent screenings if there is a family history of heart disease.
- Osteoporosis Screenings: Bone density decreases as we age, increasing the risk for osteoporosis and other bone problems. Most doctors recommend women over 65 get an annual bone density screening.
- Skin Cancer: All women should pay attention to changes in their skin or changes in moles and birthmarks and report any differences to their doctor. Yearly skin checks are recommended for those who have a family history of skin cancer, who have particularly fair skin, or are prone to sunburns.
- Diabetes: Women with a family history of diabetes, who are overweight, or have high blood pressure, may need yearly glucose screenings from age 40 and onward.
In order to see substantial health benefits, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HSS) recommends all adults do 150 to 300 minutes per week – approximately 30 minutes per day - of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise each week, or a combination of the two. HSS also recommends resistance training of all major muscle groups at least twice a week. These guidelines are especially important for women, as cardiovascular and strength training reduce the risk of heart disease and promote lean muscle mass and healthy bone density. Daily exercise also helps to moderate stress levels.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Regardless of a woman’s age, nutrition experts generally recommend a diet that is focused on fruits, vegetables, fiber and protein, with special attention on the vitamins and minerals women need most. Consider a multivitamin, like Kore Women’s Multi Gummies, to fill in the gaps in your diet. Here are some important vitamins and minerals to consider:
- Calcium: Early in life, women deposit calcium into their bones. When they reach their 30s, they draw calcium from their bones, which weakens them. Consuming enough calcium at all ages is critical to maximize the amount of calcium you put in when you’re younger and then avoid depleting it later. Excellent food sources of calcium include milk, cheese, yogurt, sesame and chia seeds, beans, lentils, almonds and dark, leafy greens.
- Iron: Women need up to 125% more iron than men, especially if they are pre-menopausal. Iron is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to red blood cells so it can be transported from the lungs to the muscles, and iron deficiency can lead to low energy levels and even exhaustion. To boost iron levels, eat eggs, red meat, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, lentils, and spinach.
- Folate: Folate, or vitamin B-9, is essential to women of childbearing. Folate helps to maintain healthy DNA, which reduces the chance of birth defects and can lower a woman’s risk for heart disease and certain cancers. Beans, asparagus, leafy greens, beets, and eggs are all high in folate.
Get Your ZZZZZs
The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults aged 18 to 64 get seven to nine hours of sleep per night, but women need at least 20 minutes more sleep each night than men. Research shows women tend to multitask more and use more of their brain than men, leading to an increased need for sleep to rest and recharge. However, getting the proper amount of sleep can be challenging during pregnancy or menopause, or if you have a partner who tosses and turns. Get more shut-eye by getting regular exercise, limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, limiting food intake and blue light exposure – computers, tablets, televisions – three hours before bedtime, sticking to a consistent bedtime and sleeping in a cool and dark room.
Skin cancer has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., with 2 to 3 million new cases each year. Of those, women under age 45 are disproportionately affected. When possible, avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when it is the strongest. When you are outside, wear protective clothing – wide-brimmed hats, UV-blocking glasses, rash guards at the beach – or a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, reapplied frequently. Decreasing your exposure to UV radiation decreases your risk of sunburn, both of which increase the risk of skin cancer.