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Women’s Health

Thursday, May 4, 2017

National Women’s Health Week is May14-20.  It is an observance led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health. The goal is to empower women to make their health a priority. The week also serves as a time to encourage women to take steps to improve their health.  This is more important than ever as some of the statistics regarding women’s health are less than inspiring.  A third of women over the age of 20 have hypertension, almost 39% are obese and 13% of women 18 years and older are in fair or poor health. All this leads to greater risk for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  In addition, one in five women has a mental health problem such as depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder.   The emphasis of the week, therefore, centers on eating healthy, paying attention to your mental health, engaging in safe behaviors, and getting active.  

Eight health tips for you or the women in your life:

① Get stress under control.  Stress has significant health consequences from infertility to higher risk for depression, anxiety, and heart disease.  Schedule in time with friends, exercise, and relaxation.  Practice deep breathing during times of stress or when you need a “time-out.” Learn to let it go – ask yourself questions such as, “Will this matter tomorrow? Next week? next month?”

② Stop dieting and start working toward a sustainable, healthy lifestyle!  Diets may take off quite a few pounds initially but are hard to sustain.  The key is eating normal portions of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, smart carbs , lean protein, and fiber. Some simple steps include:  eat whole grain bread instead of white bread and brown rice instead of white rice.  Try whole fruit, like apples or oranges, instead of fruit bars or fruit-flavored snacks.  Drink water, seltzer or unsweetened tea instead of energy or fruit drinks, soda, or specialty coffees.

③ Move more in a variety of ways.  Women need a mix of cardio and resistance or weight bearing exercise at least three to five times per week to help prevent osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.  A woman who exercises 30 minutes every day can lower her risk of dying early by 27% compared with someone who only exercises 30 minutes once a week.  Exercise also improves mood and self-image.  For many women, it is also a social outlet and stress reliever.  Easy ways to add more movement include:  Add walking to your commute.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Turn on your favorite music and dance.  

④  See your doctor every year.  Discuss fertility (fertility declines in the early 30s), birth control options/risks/benefits, pap test and mammogram frequency, weight management, and need for various tests and vaccines.  

⑤ Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.  Sleep deprivation leads to psychological problems, poor mental functioning, weight gain, and increased risk for heart disease.  

⑥ If a smoker, quit.  Smoking causes 80% of lung cancer deaths among women. Call Noyes Health at 585-335-4327 for smoking cessation information or 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487.)

⑦ Limit alcohol to one drink or less per day.  Do not use illegal drugs or misuse prescription or OTC drugs.

⑧ Wear a seatbelt and turn off the phone while driving.  Seatbelts lower your risk of dying in a car crash by 45% and cut your risk of serious injury by 50%.   Women are also more likely than men to talk on the phone while driving.  And studies show that people are two times more likely to crash or have a near miss when dialing a cell phone.  Do not text and drive.  IT CAN WAIT!

Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville.  If you have article suggestions or questions, contact Lorraine at or 585-335-4327.  

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