8 Ways for Women to Live Healthier Lives

August 21, 2018

Adopt those habits to promote your well-being and happiness.

ARE YOU SEARCHING FOR THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH?

The secret is as easy as living a healthy lifestyle. These eight steps can help you enjoy a longer, more fulfilling life

1. Stay up-to-date on screenings and immunizations. Routine preventive care, such as mammograms and Pap tests, can find problems early, when they’re often easier to treat.

  • Breast cancer: According to the American Cancer Society, women at average risk for breast cancer should have annual mammograms starting at age 45. At age 55, women may switch to having mammograms every other year. Women at high risk for breast cancer may need more frequent screening.
  • Cervical cancer: “Women ages 21 to 65 should get a Pap test once every three years,” says Verda Hicks, M.D., FACS, FACOG, chief of the Perricone Center for Gynecologic Oncology at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. “Between ages 30 and 65, they could alternately get a Pap test along with human papillomavirus (HPV) testing every five years.” Women older than age 65 who have had normal screenings and do not have a high risk for cervical cancer do not need Pap tests.
  • Immunizations: Don’t forget to get all recommended vaccines, including flu shots. “Getting vaccinated for the flu every year is the single best way to keep the virus away,” according to Georgios Giannakopoulos, D.O., of Bayshore Medical Center.

2. Eat smart. A healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains is key. If you’re looking for superfoods that go above and beyond to keep you healthy, try chia seeds, quinoa, berries, oatmeal and pistachios.

3. Focus on fitness. Exercise has numerous health benefits. “Just 30 minutes of physical activity, accumulated over the course of each day, can improve the way you look and feel, both physically and mentally,” says Todd Liu, M.D., an OB/GYN at Southern Ocean Medical Center.

4. Don’t smoke. “Smoking has a big impact on your health,” says Jennifer Sullivan, M.D., of Ocean Medical Center. “In fact, it’s the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. Smoking causes a variety of illnesses, including lung cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

5. Bone up on calcium. For healthy bones, eat plenty of calcium-rich foods, such as milk and other dairy products, tofu, leafy green vegetables, canned salmon or sardines, and calcium fortified juices or breads.

6. Take medicine wisely. Read the labels, follow the instructions carefully, and remind your health care provider or pharmacist about any other medicines or supplements — both prescription and over-the-counter — you might be taking that could interact with your medicines.

7. Play it safe. Take steps to avoid injuries and accidents. For instance, wear a seat belt when driving and a bike helmet when cycling. Make sure your home is equipped with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. “When outdoors, wear sunscreen that has an SPF of 15 or higher, UV-blocking sunglasses, sun-protective clothing and a broad-brimmed hat,” says internist Sameer Shetty, M.D., of Raritan Bay Medical Center–Old Bridge.

8. Make time for something fun. Who says becoming healthier has to be all work and no play? Set aside at least a few minutes every day to do something you enjoy. Pursue a hobby, read for pleasure or listen to your favorite music.

This article appeared in the July / August issue of HealthViews. Click here to view the whole issue.