Protect Your Health
Women in the United States live 81 years on average, almost five years longer than men. Our bodies and minds are made to carry us for many productive decades—to school, to work, and to give birth to babies and raise families. But women are also prone to dangerous diseases including heart disease, cancer, and stroke. There are so many different ways to keep your mind and body strong and healthy. Here are some streamlined tips for protecting a woman’s physical and mental health at any age.
Half of all long-term smokers will die from using tobacco. Smoking has been linked to several diseases and negative health effects, including heart disease (the number one killer of women), stroke, women’s infertility, and lung cancer. Lung cancer kills more women than breast cancer. Fortunately, when you stop smoking (or never begin the habit at all), you greatly decrease your risk of developing these diseases. Learn how to quit smoking.
Research studies show that social connections increase your likelihood of surviving physical health problems, increase your level of happiness, and may even help you live longer. In fact, one study has shown that connections to other people have as big of a positive effect on your physical health as quitting smoking. Strengthen the relationships you have, and make it a goal to make new friends.
The right amount of physical activity makes you less likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes, breast cancer, depression, and many more conditions. Exercise improves your bone health, sleep, and quality of life. To gain these health benefits, try to get at least two and a half hours of “moderate-intensity” physical activity every week. Moderate-intensity activities include brisk walking, riding a stationary bike, and playing with your kids. Learn more reasons and ways to be physically active.
Even if you feel well, yearly health checkups and screening tests can help women:
- Spot signs of serious diseases and conditions early, such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, so that you have a better chance of successfully curing or effectively treating them
- Find problems before they cause painful or bothersome symptoms
- Live a longer and more active life free of disability
Schedule a checkup from a primary care doctor or Ob/Gyn once per year, and learn more about the health screenings women need.
Studies have found that helping other people can decrease your blood pressure, decrease depression, decrease your stress levels, decrease effects of chronic pain, and may even help you live longer. This is often because volunteering can give you a sense of purpose and perspective, especially when things in your own life aren’t perfect. Volunteering can also help you meet new friends. Helping can mean as little as picking up a friend’s children at school, gathering donations for a charity, or visiting your elderly neighbor for coffee. Learn some hints on helping and ways to volunteer.
Sleep problems (including insomnia and nighttime pain) tend to affect women more often than men. Over time, not getting enough sleep is linked to obesity, heart disease, depression, and diabetes. Sleeping seven to nine hours per night can improve your mood, your memory, your stress levels, your safety, and your body’s ability to fight disease. Learn how to sleep longer and better.
The practice of yoga has stuck around for thousands of years for a reason! Yoga includes postures like downward dog, breathing practices, and meditation. These have numerous proven physical health benefits including weight loss, decreased blood pressure, decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes, resistance to disease, and joint pain relief. Mental and emotional health benefits include significant improvement in levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Learn more about the benefits and methods of yoga and meditation.