With Mother’s Day just around the corner, many of our female readers are looking forward to a day of quality time with their loved ones, good food and perhaps even some well-deserved, heartfelt gifts.
If you’re a mom, why not give yourself the perfect Mother’s Day gift: the gift of good health!
Moms are known for taking care of others (we mean no disrespect, Dads!) But today’s hectic schedules (making breakfast, dropping the kids off to school, working full-time, caring for an elderly parent, etc.) leave little time for moms to take care of themselves. In fact, when Child’s Play Communications asked 2,123 U.S. mothers what they wanted most for Mother’s Day, “something handmade from my kids” topped the list at 14.6%, closely followed by “a day off entirely for myself” (13.6%) and “a spa day” (12.9%). So be good to yourself!
Take these five steps to improve your physical and mental health and lower your risk of certain diseases:
1) Visit a healthcare professional to receive regular checkups and preventive screenings. For an easy-to-use, interactive chart of screening tests for women recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, visit http://www.womenshealth.gov/nwhw/health-resources/screening-tool/.
2) Get active. Physical activity can prolong your life by:
- Lowering your risk of heart disease (the #1 killer of American women), stroke, high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome (a cluster of risk factors that precludes a variety of chronic illnesses, colon cancer, breast cancer, falls, depression and other illnesses
- Lowering your risk of hip fracture, lung cancer, endometrial cancer
- Improving bone density and sleep quality
- Reducing the size of your waistline and helping you maintain a healthy weight.
Being physically active doesn’t mean having to lift weights at the gym. In fact, every day activities like gardening, pushing a stroller, or walking the dog can deliver health benefits.
Visit www.womenshealth.gov for ideas on how to fit physical activity into your daily routine.
3) Eat healthier. Physical activity and healthy eating go hand-in-hand. Eating a healthier diet along with regular physical activity can go a long way in reducing your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and in helping you manage a healthy weight.
Consume healthy fats which help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart disease such as olive oil, avocados, and most nuts.
Limit unhealthy fats which contribute to high cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. Unhealthy fats include saturated fat (high-fat cuts of meat, palm oil, and lard) and trans fats (found in commercially packaged baked goods to help prolong shelf-life).
Drink in moderation. Women who drink alcohol should limit their intake to one drink per day. One drink isdefined as 12 fluid ounces of regular beer, 5 fluid ounces of wine, and 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
Dieting and healthy eating are not the same! The goal is not to eat fewer calories, but to eat the right calories.
The three most prominent forms of stress are routine or every day stress brought upon by pressures of work, family and daily responsibilities; stress brought about by a sudden negative change such as job loss, divorce or illness; and traumatic stress resulting from a major accident, natural disaster or wartime. All of these can affect your physical and mental health.
Common stress management techniques including yoga, time management, and regular exercise have been shown to help. As well, be sure to seek help from a qualified mental health provider if you feel you cannot come, are overwhelmed, have suicidal thoughts or are using drugs or alcohol to cope.
For more about stress and its effects on your mental and physical health, visit the National Istitute of Mental Health web site at http://www.nimh.nih.gov.
5) Avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, not wearing a seatbelt or bicycle helmet, and texting while driving. ‘Nuf said!
Your Partner In Health,
Graybill Medical Group