The annual National Women’s Health Week aims to empower women to make their health a priority.
The observance is spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health and the focus of this year’s campaign is “Your health at every age.” At Womenshealth.gov, women can find suggested measures to boost their physical and mental wellbeing based on their age group.
Many of the recommendations combat heart disease, which kills more women each year than all types of cancer combined, according to the American Heart Association. About 90% of women have at least one risk factor for heart disease.
“What is known is that women are more likely than men to suffer from multiple chronic conditions, and women are in greater need of healthcare services across their lifespan,” the Office on Women’s Health noted in a 2013 report to Congress.
For women of all ages, the federal agency promotes the following five wellness tips:
For a healthy diet, you should eat: fruits and vegetables; grains (at least half of which should be whole grains, including whole wheat, oatmeal and brown rice); fat-free or low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products; and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
At the same time, women should reduce their intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars.
Additional resources are available from: the Office on Women’s Health’s Fact Sheet on Heart Healthy Eating, which details how specific nutrients and foods affect heart health; the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ChooseMyPlate.gov, which provides tools for nutrition education and dietary assessment; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Nutrition for Everyone, which includes food safety basics.
By exercising for at least 30 minutes on most days, women of all ages can lower their risk of: heart disease; high blood pressure; stroke; unhealthy cholesterol levels; Type 2 diabetes; colon and breast cancer; metabolic syndrome; falls; and depression.
Regular activity can also help with weight maintenance, and improve cardiovascular and muscular health, as well as boosting mental functions.
The Women’s Health Physical Activity Fact Sheet answers common questions such as, “Does the type of physical activity I choose matter?” and “How much physical activity should I do?”
Additionally, The President’s Challenge program for fitness, sports and nutrition provides resources to increase physical activity.
As part of Women’s Health Week, the annual National Women’s Checkup Day seeks to inspire women to schedule a yearly well-woman visit with their physician. These checkups typically include:
More information on screening tests and vaccines is available at Womenshealth.gov.
Habits such as tobacco use and excessive alcohol intake can raise your risk of disease and lower your overall health, and behaviors such as texting while driving and not wearing a seatbelt or bicycle helmet raise the likelihood of injury or worse.
Numerous resources are available for women hoping to make lifestyle changes, including Smoke Free Women, which also offers support on stress and weight management.
Mental health is vital to overall wellness, so make sure you’re getting enough sleep and managing stress. Also, talk to a doctor about any issues relating to domestic or interpersonal violence.
The Women’s Health mental health page provides resources on a variety of topics, including mental illness, veterans’ mental health and suicide prevention.
There are many ways to participate in the 16th annual National Women’s Health Week, which runs from May 10 to 16, 2015, including spreading the word through social media using the hashtag #NWHW, joining other women in pledging to boost your health and organizing local events, such as a walking group or a healthy cooking class.