Ways for women to prioritize their health

GEHA | May 21, 2019

everyday health exercise fitness wellness women's health
The path to a healthier lifestyle may begin with simple tweaks to your lifestyle. The right diet, exercise and stress-relief plan all play a big role.

National Women’s Health Week is celebrated each year beginning on Mother’s Day. It is a reminder to women to take care of themselves and to make their health a priority.

Your health is a lifelong journey. The path to a healthier lifestyle may begin with simple tweaks to your lifestyle. The right diet, exercise and stress-relief plan all play a big role.

Steps to improve physical and mental health:

  • Eat healthy: A heart-healthy diet keeps away problems like heart disease and stroke. Eat more fruits and veggies. Choose whole grains and lean proteins like poultry, fish, beans and legumes. Cut down on processed foods, sugar, salt and saturated fat.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise boosts your heart health, builds muscle and bone strength and wards off health problems.
  • Lose weight: Shedding pounds lowers your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Aim for a slow, steady drop. Try to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week by being active and eating better.
  • Healthy habits: Get enough sleep and manage stress. Avoid unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, texting while driving and not wearing a seatbelt or bicycle helmet.
  • Visit your doctor: Get regular checkups. Your doctor keeps track of your medical history and can help you stay healthy. Get the recommended screening tests to keep an eye on your health and catch conditions early when they're easier to treat.

Important annual preventative screenings

Mammogram: A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray exam of the breasts to look for changes that are not normal. It enables the doctor to look for changes in breast tissue that cannot be felt during a breast exam. Women ages 50 to 74 years should get a mammogram every two years. Women younger than age 50 should talk to a doctor about when to start and how often to have a mammogram.

Pap and HPV tests: Pap tests (or Pap smears) look for cancers and precancers in the cervix. Precancers are cell changes that can be caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). If not treated, these abnormal cells could lead to cervical cancer. An HPV test looks for HPV in cervical cells. Most women 21 to 65 years old need to get a Pap test or Pap and HPV tests together. Not all women need to be tested every year.


Sources:
“National Women's Health Week May 13-19, 2018.”  cdc.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 April 2018.
“Women’s Health Tips for Heart, Mind, and Body.” webmd.com, WebMD LLC, 21 June 2016.
“Mammograms.” Womenshealth.gov, Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 April 2019.
“Pap and HPV tests.” Womenshealth.gov, Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 January 2019.