It’s National Women’s Health week, and while you shouldn’t wait until a week like this to think about your health, it doesn’t hurt to take some time this week to evaluate your healthy — or not so healthy — habits.
Dr. Matt Masiello offers a few tips for women who are taking this week to rededicate themselves to a healthy lifestyle.
“First and foremost, if you are a smoker, you need to quit,” says Dr. Masiello. “Even if you’re eating well or exercising, smoking will decrease any positive effects those habits could have.”
He suggests finding a support group or speaking with your doctor about recommended ways to quit. This week is the time to take the first step: Schedule your doctor’s appointment, group session or lunch with a friend who can see you through it.
Next, he recommends aiming to achieve 30 minutes of exercise a day. “As women have become increasingly busy at work and at home, those 30 minutes are understandably difficult to fit in,” he says. “If you can’t find the time, try making those 30 minutes a time for a family walk, or if you’re single, use it as a time to call a friend and catch up while you’re walking or jogging.”
Scheduling your annual checkup is also important. Some people use their birthdays as a reminder to schedule their annual checkup, but if you’re not in that habit, make this week your signal to set the date. At that appointment, be sure to ask if you’re caught up on all of your adolescent and adult vaccines.
Lastly, schedule all of your preventive procedures (based on your age). This includes your pap exam, any recommended tests for STIs, a mammography and a colonoscopy. Prevention is key, and these tests are available for a reason, so use them.
Throughout the year, make your health a priority. This means getting enough sleep each night and maintaining a healthy diet.
Dr. Matt Masiello is the director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. He also serves as the network coordinator (former Governance Board member) of the International Health Promoting Hospital Network, a World Health Organization partner.