“Women are often tasked with working full-time, taking care of children and possibly taking care of other loved ones who may be ill or elderly, but they need to take good care of themselves, too,” says Pamela Gressens, CRNP, women’s health at Geisinger St. Luke’s Medical Office Building in Orwigsburg. “Creating good health habits can help you avoid more frequent trips to the doctor and even certain chronic conditions.”
Here are five things women can do to stay well all year:
Running, biking, taking a brisk walk or lifting at the gym can not only lower your stress and send endorphins coursing through your body, it could also help you maintain a healthy weight and ward off type 2 diabetes, some cancers and heart disease.
Try to get the recommended 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking your car farther from store entrances, hitting the gym before or after work, or even lifting light weights while you relax and watch TV at night.
2. Relieve stress
Your go-go lifestyle might make you feel stressed daily — and that could hurt your health. When you don’t manage stress well, you put yourself at risk for headaches, fatigue, sleep problems and muscle tension. It might even cause you to overeat or withdraw from your family and friends. Left unchecked, stress could contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity.
“Taking a few minutes every day to breathe deeply, meditate or take a walk can help you manage stress that comes from your family, your job and anything else that’s contributing to your hectic lifestyle,” says Ms. Gressens.
3. Listen to your body
You know your body better than anyone else, and it’s your job to be your biggest health advocate. That means knowing when to slow down and when to see a doctor.
“Whether it’s aches and pains that are related to stress or something like a lump in your breast or a lingering pain in your stomach, make the time to get it checked out. Your body may be telling you that something is seriously wrong,” advises Ms. Gressens.
4. Get more sleep
If you’re like more than one-third of American adults, you’re not getting enough sleep. “Sleep is a critical component to your health because your body repairs itself during this time,” says Ms. Gressens. “Though it varies from person to person, most adults should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.”
A lack of sleep can make it harder to focus and remember; chronic sleep deprivation could contribute to high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and heart failure.
To get a good night’s rest, go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day (even on weekends); make sure your room is quiet, dark and cool; burn off extra energy by exercising; avoid caffeine or a big meal before bed and be sure to stop screen time about an hour before going to sleep.
5. Manage chronic conditions
If you have a chronic condition like diabetes or depression, managing it is key to staying out of the doctor’s office. That means taking medicines as they are prescribed, eating a healthy diet, following your doctor’s advice and going for recommended checkups.
“Work closely with your doctor to manage the health issues you have now so you don’t end up with more serious health problems down the road,” notes Ms. Gressens.