Beginning on Mother’s Day each year, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s health leads the recognition of National Women’s Health Week. This creates an opportunity to encourage women to prioritize their own health and take steps to care for themselves. Use it as an excuse to take the time this week to think about how you can show yourself some well deserved love and support your good health.
Women bear most of the caregiving burden.
It’s no secret that on average, women spend a lot of time taking care of others. Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that women spend about 59% more time than men engaged in unpaid household tasks, and the Family Caregiver Alliance reports that women represent approximately 2/3 of caregivers, and female caregivers tend to spend significantly more time providing care than their male counterparts. All of this can take a toll on women’s health, contributing to problems such as depression, high blood pressure, substance abuse, and chronic illness. As a result, it’s especially important that women take the time to prioritize self-care.
Some simple steps can help you feel better and live longer.
It’s not uncommon to look at “getting healthier” as a task and a burden. It’s important to recognize, however, that you don’t have to start a rigorous gym schedule or give up your favorite foods to improve your health. When you’re healthier, you feel better, both physically and mentally. Taking care of your health isn’t another chore; it’s a gift that you give yourself. Below are some simple steps you can take.
Get routine preventive care.
Your doctor and other healthcare professionals can serve you best when they have the opportunity to head off potential problems before they become emergencies. The Affordable Care Act requires Marketplace insurers to cover well-woman visits and many important screening exams at no cost to the patient. Depending on your age and other factors, covered screening and other benefits may include
- Pap tests
- STD screening
- Colorectal cancer screening
- Bone density testing
- Tobacco use screening and intervention
- Domestic violence screening and counseling
Even if you don’t have coverage through the Affordable Care Act, your policy may provide similar benefits.
Choose healthy foods.
The American Cancer Society recommends a varied diet focused on plant-based food sources. The organization advises eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables as part of a low-fat diet. A serving amounts to one cup of leafy vegetables, 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables, 1/2 cup of fresh fruit, 3/4 cup of juice, or 1/3 cup of dried fruit. By getting the recommended amount of fruits and veggies and limiting your overall fat intake, you take an important step toward good health (even if you occasionally splurge on that chocolate lava cake).
Move your body.
Movement is important to keep your muscles, bones, and cardiovascular system strong and functioning smoothly. It’s also important for your mental health. Research indicates that active people are less depressed than inactive people, and active people who become inactive tend to become more depressed. The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise—or a proportional combination of the two—to improve cardiovascular health. Even if that seems like a distant goal from where you’re starting, something is better than nothing. Set a reasonable goal for yourself, even if that’s getting out for a walk three times a week. As it becomes a habit, higher goals will seem much more attainable.
At Iowa Radiology, our focus is your good health. We provide state-of-the-art 3-D mammography, bone density testing, and other vital women’s imaging services. We update our blog regularly with important health information to help patients make informed choices about their care. Click the image below to subscribe!
 "Home Personal Finance Women’s unpaid work is the backbone of the American economy." MarketWatch, 15 April 2018. Accessed 16 April 2018.