Secrets of healthy women

Jul 5, 2010 at 4:10 p.m. ET

You’ve seen them: Those women with enviable elan, radiant smiles, glowing skin and fit physiques. Though some women are genetically gifted with superior traits, overall health and fitness usually require daily effort. Some ladies swear by organic foods, others don’t go a day without prayer, while still others credit their fitness habits. Want to look and feel your best every day? Give these secrets of healthy women a place in your lifestyle.

Woman roller blading

1. Living organic

It's no secret that you are what you eat, but the secret for many healthy women is organics. A clean diet gives Suzanne Stapler, a New Jersey-based nutrition expert, the edge when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight and warding off disease. "My health secret is organic whole foods and mostly organic supplements," she shares. "I consider this one healthy habit because one doesn't work without the other." Stapler cautions against relying solely on supplements. "Supplements will take up the slack but only if you are eating healthfully already; if you aren't, taking supplements is a waste of money," she explains.

2. Hydration, hydration, hydration

Adequate hydration keeps your body running at its peak, ups your energy, aids in digestion, boosts your mental and physical performance, and gives your skin a gorgeous glow. Style expert and beauty editor of, Aly Walansky, says the more water you drink, the better your skin feels. "Our skin is an amazing window to what's going on inside, and if you have a luminous, clear skin, chances are, you are healthy on the inside as well," she explains. Walansky also credits her skin health to her morning drink. "I like to drink Glowelle , a powder supplement you can add to your morning smoothies; I haven't needed a facial in months," she says.

3. Natural aids to digestion

At least seven out of 10 Americans suffer from digestive disorders, including heartburn, IBS and constipation. Betty Gowens, an avid tennis and golf player in California, swears by her favorite digestive cocktail. She says, "My favorite drink all year round, but especially in the summer, is a quick and easy mix: Fill a large pitcher with filtered water, add one thinly sliced lemon, one thinly sliced peeled cucumber, 1 tablespoon grated fresh peeled ginger and a handful of mint leaves, and chill in the fridge." Not only is this refreshing concoction a tasty alternative to plain water, it aids in digestion. Gowens drinks it throughout the day, before and after meals. Another secret to digestive health? Gowens eats frequent small meals. "I never feel too full, and I have a lot of mental and physical energy because my body isn't working overtime to digest large meals," she adds.

4. Bring on the sweat -- and like it

You can bet those radiant, energetic women aren't spending their days glued to their keyboards. For them, exercise is a way of life. Alaskan-based certified personal trainer Lisa Maloney says it goes even beyond the sweat; you need to have fun and enjoy exercise. "Why suffer through a kind of workout you hate when there are so many different ways of working out?" she says. "Keep trying new things until you find modes of fitness you like so that working out becomes a treat you look forward to instead of a 'necessary evil.'" For example, Maloney isn't a fan of the treadmill, so when she needs a cardio workout, she finds alternatives she doesn't dread. "Depending on my mood, I rollerblade, hike up really steep hills, Irish dance or salsa dance. In the gym, I absolutely love using the rowing machine," she explains. "All of the above give me a great cardio workout and strengthen my legs, like running on a treadmill would, but with none of the angst."

5. Stay connected

How healthy do you really feel when you've neglected quality time with your family, friends, church or even co-workers? According to Roberta Lee, MD, author of The Superstress Solution (Random House, 2010), research has shown that lonely people's hearts are weaker, their levels of inflammation and stress hormones are higher, their immune systems are more likely to be impaired, and they are at a greater risk for depression and premature death. Pam Blockey, busy homeschooling mom of two in Montana, fosters her spiritual, physical and mental health through her connection to God. "Prayer and quiet time in the Bible fosters my relationship with God, which is no different than talking with a friend," she says. "Seeing the evidence of my answered prayers as well as in the lives of others builds me up and keeps me spiritually healthy."

6. Laughter is good medicine

Think back to the last time you felt the rush (and abdominal and cardio workout) of a gut-roaring laugh. Finding humor in life is one of the funnest ways to stay sane, healthy and fit. "As absurd as our lives get, sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying," says Jen Klein, New England-based mom of three and author of The Mommy Files (Adams Media, 2010), "There is so much in life that is necessarily serious that we risk making everything serious and stressful unless we consciously look for the humor." Klein suggests that, the next time your toddler spills the entire box of Cheerios on the floor, laugh. And take a picture of your child sitting in the middle of that pile of Cheerios, happily munching away. "Laughing is a terrific release -- that is, if we allow ourselves to do it," she adds.

7. Sleep, sleep and more sleep

If you aren't waking up in the morning feeling revived and energized, chances are you aren't getting enough sleep or, at the very least, enough quality sleep. In addition to adequate sleep being the number-one way to bolster the immune system, sound slumber can help you better manage stress, defy the effects of premature aging, and boost bone, brain and heart health. "I prioritize eight hours of sleep every night," says California mom of two Elizabeth B. "Even with two kids, I rarely get sick, and I love being able to keep up with my kids without coming home at the end of the day ready to dive onto the couch."

8. It's all in the attitude

Really feeling good comes from feeling good about yourself from the inside out. Editor-in-chief of Women's Health magazine Michele Promaulayko, who recently wrote the revolutionary women's book Look Better Naked (Rodale, 2010), promotes a healthy diet and regular exercise to maintain health, but she also encourages women to shape up their confidence. In her book, she writes, "You can't look better naked unless you feel better naked, and vice versa... how we feel about our own bodies is completely subjective… you have the ability to improve your body image all by yourself." Look Better Naked is certainly a good starting point to eat right, get fit and learn to love yourself, but keeping that confident attitude alive is the key to a long-term commitment to diet, exercise and a body-loving lifestyle.