National Women’s Health Week is an observance led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – specifically, by its Office on Women’s Health.
This year the 17th annual National Women’s Health Week kicks off, appropriately, on Mother’s Day – May 8 – and continues through May 14. Its goal is to empower women to make their own health a priority.
Women are great at taking care of others. Children and spouses, grandparents and grandchildren, cousins, aunts and uncles somehow always come first. But the truth is, if women don’t take care of themselves, it will get harder and harder to take care of anyone else.
How can you make your own health a priority?
The list is surprisingly short and simple:
- Eat right.
- Learn the basics. Almost everyone needs to eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Incorporate foods with folic acid, such as leafy vegetables, beans and whole grains. Folic acid is important for all women, but especially if you are planning a pregnancy or are currently pregnant.
- Get active, if you’re not already.
- Physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Its many benefits include lowering your risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death for women.
- Aim for at least 2½ hours of moderate aerobic exercise every week.
- Add strength training to your exercise routine; it can reduce the chances of falls. Fall-related fractures among older women are more than twice those for men.
- Schedule a checkup with your doctor or health care provider.
- Preventive care can help detect problems early when treatment is more effective.
- Learn more about preventive screenings like mammograms – ask about what screenings you might need and when.
- Make your mental health a priority.
- Get plenty of sleep and look for ways to manage stress if that has become a problem.
- Avoid unhealthy behaviors.
- If you’re a smoker, stop – smoking cessation programs can help.
- Wear sunscreen. Ultraviolet rays can damage your skin, increasing your risk for skin cancer and premature skin aging.
- Never text while driving. Always wear a seatbelt. And if you’re riding a bike, wear a helmet.
Remember that being healthy starts with you. Women especially need to keep this in mind. When you call your mother this Mother’s Day, tell her how much her health matters to you. If she hasn’t had a checkup recently, urge her to schedule one.
That may be the best Mother’s Day gift of all.
MEDNAX has from its beginnings been committed to women’s health issues. We celebrate women everywhere, not just during National Women’s Health Week, but every day, and urge all women to make their own health a priority.