During National Women’s Health Week, we’re focusing on how women can take charge of their health. As women, we are the primary caregivers for our families, and it’s important that we make our health and wellness a priority so that we can continue to take care of others.
When we’re young, it’s easy to take good health for granted. Few of us ever consider the possibility of getting a serious illness until one strikes. Yet, preventive steps throughout our lives can have a very significant impact on our health—particularly as we get older. In other words, it’s necessary to start making smart health decisions as early as in our twenties. By doing so, we can prevent many problems from happening down the road.
“Knowledge about prevention strategies and having a doctor that you partner with over time is your best defense against heart disease, stroke and many other conditions,” says Dr. Stacey Rosen, cardiologist and vice-president of Katz Institute for Women’s Health. “Taking small steps now can help prevent many of the most common conditions we see with aging.”
The following preventive women’s health tips are some of the basics for staying healthy for life.
In Your 20s
Whether you’re finishing up your education, launching a career, starting a family or tackling it all at once, the twenties are a busy decade for most women. It’s common to put off health goals and preventive care for another day. However, what you do now sets the foundation for your health throughout your life. Now is the time to establish good exercise and eating habits while ensuring you get an annual well-woman visit. A few important goals to shoot for, include:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Check blood pressure
- Talk to your doctor about birth control, plans for pregnancy and your risk for sexually transmitted infections
- Get 30 minutes of physical activity most days
- Quit or stop smoking
- Limit alcohol use
- Get an annual flu shot and any necessary immunizations
- Get help for stress, depression or other mental health issues
In Your 30s
During your thirties, it’s common to be juggling family and work obligations. Stress and sleep disturbances are common. Along with continuing the healthy preventive health habits listed above, it’s more important during this decade to strive for six to eight hours of sleep each night and to incorporate strategies for reducing daily stress, such as meditation or yoga. Some other important steps to take, include:
- Talk to your doctor about cholesterol and any history of heart problems
- Talk to your doctor about your family history of cancers and whether early screening is necessary
In Your 40s
Weight gain and muscle loss are common in your 40s. Try to incorporate regular total-body workouts if you haven’t done so already. It’s also a busy decade with family and career obligations, so it’s essential to prevent your health needs from slipping to the bottom of your priority list. Additional steps this decade, include:
- Have an annual mammogram starting at age 40
- Talk to your doctor about menopause and how often you need a pelvic exam and a Pap test
- Get a skin exam as a baseline to check for skin cancers
In Your 50s and 60s
Women in their 50s and 60s are more active than ever. These are the years when healthy habits earlier in life really start to pay off. To continue down a healthy path, it’s important to continue healthy habits like exercise and a balanced diet, along with staying up-to-date on screenings and tests, including:
- Blood sugar
- Bone density
In Your 70s and Beyond
Although physiological changes occur with age that can slow you down, many women are living happy, vibrant lives well into their 90s! “Women who have sustained healthy lifestyles throughout life are often substantially healthier and more active than those who haven’t exercised and eaten well,” says Dr. Rosen.
So, what are strategies to take to stay healthy as long as possible? Here are a few to support physical and mental health.
- Continue to make healthful lifestyle choices—don’t smoke, eat right and reduce stress
- Maintain a positive outlook
- Stay active both mentally and physically
- Take safety precautions
- Continue to see your doctor and follow recommended guidelines for screening and preventive measures
It’s a fact that many medical conditions, including heart attack, stroke, dementia, diabetes and some types of cancer increase with age. However, healthy lifestyle choices can substantially reduce the risk of them occurring. And, the good news is that it’s never too early or late to start making positive changes.
Katz Institute for Women’s Health is here to answer your questions about staying healthy for life. For more information, call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.