President Obama officially proclaimed the week of May 8 through May 14, 2011 as National Women’s Health Week, recognizing that if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you will be less effective in tending to the needs of your children and grandchildren, family and friends. It makes great sense. So, what have you done for yourself lately? Make your health your first priority.
Top 10 Ways to Make Your Health Your First Priority
1. Yearly pelvic exam and Pap test (or Pap smear). A Pap smear (also called a Pap test) is a screening test used to examine cells from the cervix and the vagina to determine whether there is evidence of cancer or pre-cancerous changes. According to the American Cancer Society, between 60% and 80% of American women who are newly diagnosed with cervical cancer have not had a Pap smear within the last five years.
2. Mammogram. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast and the best way to find breast cancer early when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms. In addition to self-checking, it is the most effective way to find cancer before there are signs or symptoms of the disease.
3. Physical exam. Getting a periodic physical examination helps not only set a baseline, but may detect problems and offer treatments. A physical is simply an evaluation of your body and its state of health and includes personal medical history and lifestyle, laboratory tests, and screening for disease, starting from the head and working its way through all the systems and organs. According to the Encyclopedia of Surgery, here is a description of what a full physical examination should entail,
4. Exercise The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports suggests that adults 18 and older need 30 minutes of physical activity on five or more days a week to be healthy, which may include 30 minutes of brisk walking or raking leaves, 15 minutes of running, 45 minutes of playing volleyball, etc. Don’t take the closest parking space, walk. Don’t drive to the corner for a newspaper or carton of milk. Walk. Don’t let your fingers or GPS or smartphone do the walking. Walk. Walk away from your computer and go take a walk!
5. Dental or oral health. It’s important to brush, floss for a healthy smile, but a dental exam and teeth cleaning are important to your overall health as well. Recent research suggests there may be an association between gum disease and serious health conditions such as heartdisease, stroke and diabetes. The American Dental Association has a wealth of resources and information on dental health, from finding a dentist to getting financial assistance.
6. Eat healthy. We all know that eating a balanced diet is important. What is a balanced diet? It’s NOT holding a cookie in each hand. The U.S. is a nation obsessed with weight. Too thin? Too fat? Obsession is never good. You need to make responsible eating choices within the context of your preferences and lifestyle. Cut back on calories, sugar, salt and fried foods and get plenty of veggies into your system. Eat healthy foods, drink 6 t0 8 glasses of water per day, moderate your portions, and exercise – for the health of it.
7. Stress detox. Stress is everywhere. Demands on your resources and time and talent. Demands on your patience and tolerance. Demands. Demands. Demands. These can lead to overloading your system with stress. Life can be frustrating, but if you let stress overwhelm you, your body will pay the price, affecting your blood pressure, taxing your heart, and wearing you down. The nervous system needs balance. Take a walk, take a bubble bath, have a glass of wine (red wine has antioxidants that are good for you!), read a book. Set aside some time for just YOU. Here are some of the signs and symptoms of stress and ways to reduce its harmful effects from Helpguide.org.
8. Sex and sexuality. We’re aging boomers, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop enjoying life or sex. Personal relationships are all the more important now that the kids are gone and careers are wanin. It’s all in the attitude. Here’s a link that has a wealth of resources on seniors and sexuality. Check it out!. Here’s a link to an article you may also find interesting, Tips for Better Sex in Later Life.
9. Smoking. We’ve all heard the warnings. Heed them. Quit. You want to be around to dance and sing and play with your grandchildren. It’s not easy and there are many programs. Find one that suits you and your lifestyle. (I’m working on it.)
10. Sleep. Get enough rest to give your body time to refuel and refresh. The Harvard Women’s Health Watch suggests six reasons to get enough sleep, including its positive effects on learning and memory, metabolism, safety, mood, cardiovascular health, and on the immune system.
You may also be interested in some of these articles relating to your health:
- Go Shopping for the Health of It
- Get Your Social on for Healthy Aging
- Family History: the Best Kept Secret in Healthcare
- Top 10 Things You Can Do to Help Cut Your Risk of Alheimer’s
- It’s Never Too Late to Resolve to Be Healthier
Take good care of yourself – for the sake of your grandchildren – and for the health of it!
Additional resources you may enjoy on living longer and healthier lives:
- Center for Disease Prevention
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