Keys to Women's Health - The Short List
by: Kimberly Weld, N.D.
Women's lives are filled to the brim. In addition to taking care of ourselves, many of us take care of families too. Then just when the kids go out on their own, we become responsible for the special needs of aging parents.
So how can we busy women make time for our own health and fitness? Fortunately, it's the type of multi-tasking juggling act that women are especially good at!
The medical establishment's recent focus on women's health is providing new and better information. I hope this list of top women's health issues will help you create your own list of priorities to take charge of your health:
1. Cardiovascular health. Research shows that women have a low awareness of their risks for cardiovascular disease and the symptoms associated with it. To fill yourself in, go to the American Heart Association Web site, which has information especially for women (www.americanheart.org).
2. Bone health. It's important to counter low bone mass or brittle bones throughout our lives. Regular weight-bearing exercise -- including brisk walking, running, or weight training -- has been shown to help. Most women also need to supplement their diets with calcium and other key ingredients shown to support bone health.
3. Hormonal balance. Exercise and a balanced diet will help with some of the stresses of the reproductive cycle, such as PMS and menopause. Many women choose hormone replacement therapy to help them through menopause. Natural ingredients are another option. Black Cohosh, Soy, Dong Quai and other natural ingredients have been shown to help alleviate discomforts.
4. Breast health. Medical advances in diagnosing and treating breast health problems have made early detection more important than ever. The National Cancer Institute recommends a mammogram every one to two years after age 40. If you're at higher risk, talk to your doctor about being screened earlier.
5. Emotional health. Dealing well with stress is a key to longevity, according to the Harvard Study of Adult Development. If you don't already have good coping skills and strong social relationships, put them on your to-do list.
6. Balanced nutrition. Dieting can wreak havoc on women's bodies, depleting them of key nutrients. Eat a balanced diet with low-fat protein sources, complex carbohydrates, plenty of fruits and green and yellow vegetables -- and go light on the salt, sugar and alcohol. Go to www.americanheart.org for a sample of the type of low-fat regime recommended by many health experts. A comprehensive daily multivitamin is also important.
Of course, it's vitally important to your health to avoid smoking. And be sure to cover your key health concerns with your physician annually and follow medical advice.
Good luck creating your own "short list" of keys to health. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or want to share your success story with other women.
The reluctance of men to ask directions on the highway is legendary. We appear to have the same reluctance when it comes to asking directions about our health. Men, in general, are less likely than women to visit the doctor for a regular check-up.
As a medical doctor myself, I know the importance of improving and maintaining your health as you age.