For everybody there are certain determinants of health that are largely, if not entirely, out of your control. Your genetic makeup and biology have major bearing on your overall wellbeing, as do any number of socioeconomic factors. If you have an inherited health condition, and you are struggling to earn an income, your path to health is going to be rockier than that of someone who doesn’t and isn’t.
But there are individual behaviors that have been shown to help improve and maintain women’s health. Habits that have a direct and measurable impact on women’s bodies and minds, and that healthy women therefore embrace. Here are 17.
1. Healthy women cultivate friendships.
Friendships have a significant impact on both psychological health and physical health. There are lots of reasons why and numerous studies have shown friendships help increase longevity!
2. They have a screening plan …
Healthy women read up on their options and make informed decisions about what’s right for them. Your screening plan could be as simple as an eDoc.net preventative health screen and consultation with your Doctor.
3. … And they become experts on their own bodies.
No nurse or doctor can ever know your body as well as you do, which is why healthy women tune in to theirs and speak up when something seems off. They do monthly self-breast exams, track their menstrual cycles, note where their moles are (and if they’ve changed) and pay attention to any unusual symptoms. Not only is this intimate knowledge of their body a way for women to revel in its strength and awesomeness, it ensures they’re active participants in their own health.
4. They take medication seriously.
Research suggests that when it comes to medication adherence, women are worse than men. In one survey, one-third of women stopped taking a drug for a chronic illness or serious medical condition, for a variety of possible reasons: cost, forgetfulness and confusion about how to take it, to name a few. Healthy women understand that not being vigilant with medication has the potential to compound serious problems, and they also understand that taking medication carries with it risks and benefits.
5. They prioritize sleep.
The list of reasons why sleep matters is as long as it is varied, but the bottom line is, it’s a basic human need. And on the whole women don’t get enough of it Healthy women know that getting enough sleep, and ensuring it’s high-quality (meaning not disrupted by text messages, or glowing lights from electronics, for example) are critical factors in keeping their minds and bodies strong and do everything they can to get plenty of rest.
6. They have great sex — coupled and alone …
Sex isn’t just good for pleasure (or procreation); research suggests it can boost the immune system, lower blood pressure and help improve women’s bladder control by working the pelvic floor muscles,
7. … And they’re safe while doing it.
When it comes to sex, healthy women know it’s all about protection, protection, protection.
8. They find an exercise approach they like, and stick with it.
There is simply no way around the fact that being active is a fundamental part of good health, and research shows that persistence matters. Healthy women know it’s imperative to find an exercise program that works for them, and then work at it, day-in and day-out.
9. They eat according to their life stage …
The “best” eating approach for health and longevity is a matter of debate, though public health experts generally agree on some version of a balanced diet including lots of fruits, vegetables and whole foods. But while healthy women may differ in the specifics of their approaches, they recognize the importance of cluing into how nutritional needs change over time. Women who are thinking of becoming pregnant, for example, need to make shure they get enough folic acid, while aging women have to pay particular attention to calcium. Healthy women also make sure to discuss nutrition with their healthcare providers.
10. …And take cues from the Japanese women!
As far as good examples go, you could do far worse than look toward Japan, where the women have the highest life expectancy in the world. As Fox News reports, a girl born in Japan in 2012 can expect, on average, to live for 86.41 years. Though universal healthcare is one contributing factor (and one that’s largely out of individual women’s control), experts also attribute their longevity to strong social ties (see number one on this list), a diet that’s low in fat (though relatively high in salt) and a comfortable standard of living into retirement, according to The Guardian.
11. They watch their alcohol consumption.
The fact is, alcohol affects women differently than men. Women are more vulnerable to its effects, even if they drink less, and those potential effects are serious: Women who regularly consume more than about seven drinks a week are at greater risk for serious injuries, hypertension, stroke and even cancer.
12. They don’t neglect their hearts.
Heart disease is the number-one killer of women (and men), but only 1 in 5 women believe heart disease is, statistically speaking, her greatest health threat. Healthy women understand that while certain risk factors are beyond their control, others (like keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control and not smoking) are not.
13. They breastfeed — if possible.
Breastfeeding can be difficult — far more difficult to initiate and stick with than mant women realise — and more often than not, support is woefully scant. But breastfeeding doesn’t just provide benefits to babies; it has also been linked to lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, breast and ovarian cancer, and postpartum depression in women, research suggests.
14. They monitor their mental health after they give birth.
Having a baby can be an incredibly exciting time, but it can also take a toll on women’s mental health: Estimates suggest that roughly 13 percent of pregnant women and new mothers experience depression. There is a difference between the so-called “baby blues” — mood swings in the days or first weeks after birth that are highly common and typically go away on their own — and more serious postpartum depression, which lasts longer — it can occur anytime within the first year after birth — and is more debilitating.
15. They’re careful about what they put on their bodies.
Though there are no clear-cut answers on how much exposure to chemicals and substances is too much — or whether certain products really pose a danger — healthy women know it pays to read labels and to stay up to date on current research.
16. They wear sunscreen — and never, ever use tanning beds.
Ask just about any dermatologist for their biggest anti-aging tip, and the answer is sunscreen. As in, wearing it every single day. But wearing SPF isn’t just a matter of vanity, it’s a potential lifesaver: Melanoma is one of the most common cancers in young adults, particularly young women. Healthy women always avoid indoor tanning beds and limit their UV exposure by applying generous amounts of sunscreen.
17. They make stress management a priority.
Stress is as much a factor in overall health and well being as diet and exercise, and too much of it over the course of a woman’s life is extremely harmful. Chronic stress has been tied to mental health issues, like depression and anxiety, as well as heart disease and weight gain. Stress may take a particularly hard toll on 40- to 60-year-old women, in whom it’s also been linked to digestive issues, joint and muscle pain and migraines. Healthy women know that finding good ways to manage stress (think exercise, mind-body interventions and investing in personal relationships) isn’t just a means of leading a happier, more balanced life; it’s a big factor in longterm wellbeing.