During National Women's Health Week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health strives to empower women to make their health a priority and take steps to live healthier lives. Women are more likely to be responsible for the care of others—not just children but older adults as well. Often, the result is that these women experience high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression and struggle to find the time and energy to care for their own basic health care needs. This week, take the time to consider how you can care for your health and support the health of women in your life.
Move every day.
Movement is vital to good health. Excessive sitting isn’t just unnatural for the human body; it’s been linked to many health problems, including high blood pressure, back pain, depression, and even cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that adults limit sedentary activities and get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, or a combination of the two each week. Remember that exercise is about self care, not self punishment! Moving should feel good and give you more energy on the whole than you put into it.
Nourish your body.
A busy lifestyle often means little time to select, prepare, and eat healthy, balanced meals. Don’t let a packed schedule deprive you of the nutrition your body needs to be healthy, energized, and feeling good. Try to get in at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day; choose whole foods over processed foods; and limit your intake of fatty red meat and alcohol. If you need help figuring out how to fit healthy foods into your day, check out these tips.
Care for your mental health.
Stress, anxiety, and depression can take a toll on your body as well as your mood. Getting enough sleep is an important foundation for being able to manage everything you need to do during the day. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t keep it to yourself. Reach out to friends, family, and/or mental health professionals to get the help you need.
See your doctor.
Regular preventive care increases the chances that any health issues are caught early, when they’re likely to be more easily treatable. Schedule a wellness visit each year with your primary care provider, and make informed decisions about any recommended screenings and vaccinations. Common recommended health screenings for women include
- Mammography—The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Radiology, and the Society for Breast Imaging recommend annual screening beginning at age 40.
- Pap test—Ask your gynecologist or primary care provider for the screening frequency that’s appropriate for you.
- Blood pressure—Your physician will recommend a testing schedule based on your blood pressure history.
- Colorectal cancer screening—Patients at average risk should begin screening at age 50. Recommended frequency varies with they type of screening test used (for example, every 10 years for traditional colonoscopy or every 5 years for virtual colonoscopy).
- Bone density testing—The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends a bone density test for women when they reach age 65 or if they break a bone after age 50.
This is not intended to be a complete list. Consult with your primary care provider about your individual screening needs.
If you are among the estimated 13.6% of American women who smoke cigarettes, make a plan to quit. The rate of lung cancer among women has risen an astounding 94% over the course of 39 years (while it dropped 32% in men), and smoking contributes to an estimated 80% of lung cancer deaths in women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers free resources to help you quit.
Women’s health is a top concern at Iowa Radiology. We offer state-of-the-art digital and 3-D mammography, breast ultrasound and MRI, and image-guided biopsy as well as bone density scanning, hysterosalpingography, sonohysterography, and many other women’s imaging procedures in a comfortable, welcoming outpatient clinic setting. Click the image below to view our infographic about the benefits of 3-D mammography.
 "ACS Guidelines for Nutrition and Physical Activity." Cancer.org. American Cancer Society, 11 Jan 2012. Web. 7 April 2017.
 "Nutritional Guidelines for Reducing Your Risk of Cancer." American Cancer Society, 28 Aug 2011. Web. 7 April 2017.
 "American Cancer Society Recommendations for Colorectal Cancer Early Detection." Cancer.org. American Cancer Society, 26 June 2016. Web. 7 April 2017.
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