Bridget Swinney MS, RD, LD
The roses have faded, the camera has been put away and mother's day dinner is a recent memory. Celebrating moms is over until next May, right? Well not so fast--Mother's Day begins a more important week for all women--National Women's Health Week. It's a way to draw attention to something that women (and moms) sometimes ignore--their own health. Too busy taking care of others, taking care of their own health often doesn't make the top of their "to-do" list.
Quick--what's the leading cause of death among women? You may be surprised to learn it's heart disease. And since much of the foundation of heart disease research was done using men, there's still a lot to learn about heart disease and it's effect on the fairer sex. For example, you may be able to correctly identify the most common symptoms of a heart attack: squeezing chest pain or pressure and nausea. But those symptoms are not as common with women. In fact, in a 2003 study in the journal Circulation, 43% of women had no chest pain at all. Instead women have symtoms like shortness of breath, weakness and fatigue--symptoms that can be easily brushed off or misdiagnosed.
Five Things To Do Today to Help Your Health:
- Schedule a health check-up with your primary care provider. This is an important first step to stay healthy. Your doctor can refer you for other important preventive screenings such as mammograms, bone density tests and pap smears. as well as to specialists if you need more specific help. If you tend to put off check-ups because you dread going to your provider, it may be time to switch providers. It's important to have someone you trust on your health care team!
- Take a walk. To the mailbox, around the block or up the mountain, it doesn't matter how fast or how far you go, just get started with the goal of 30 minutes of exercise a day. Regular exercise will reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer as well as help digestion and quality of your sleep.
- Eat your veggies (and fruits)! When people ask me the best way to lose weight, I always say, eat more veggies and fruits. By following MyPlate--which recommends that half your plate be filled with fruits and vegeteables, you automatically eat less calories and fat from other foods. And you get the bonus of fiber, which fills you up, and vitamins and antioxidants that keep you healthy.
- Watch your fat. While we need a certain amount of fat, it's the "bad fat" from fried food and animal products that can lead to clogged arteries. Choose lean meats and lowfat dairy, skip the skin on your chicken and fish and keep fried foods to a minimum. Choose healthy fats like olive oil, canola oil, avocado and nuts for most of the fat in your diet.
- Make more "me" time. Whether it's a few minutes of quiet time to think or read, or an extra long shower in the morning, time for you can relieve stress and improve mental health.
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