May 14-20 celebrates National Women’s Health Week, a health initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This campaign correlates with Mother’s Day to remind us that women often put their own health on the back burner while multi-tasking and caring for those around them. Indeed, today’s woman is often working, raising a family, caring for aging parents, juggling household chores, church or social responsibilities, and eating on the run. Nutritional deficiencies, lack of exercise and the effect of stress on hormones can quickly lead to chronic health problems. When drugs are medically prescribed, side effects may result in further medications, and the downward spiral continues. As the adage says, “prevention is better than cure,” and this well-designed website is an excellent resource to remind us that time invested in our health will pay great dividends of improved lifestyle and longevity.
Keeping physically fit
Having this past year become a grandmother to three baby boys, I am acutely aware that if I am to keep up with them physically as I age, I will need to be extremely disciplined with my health agenda. I like that this website offers quizzes that help you see areas of your health that could use improvement. Voluntary celebrity ambassadors encourage a focus on health, and the website features social media and promotional tools. I enjoyed being able to select my age category and be reminded of age pertinent health concerns to discuss with my doctor. The site suggests the following steps to promote health:
- Visit a doctor or nurse for a well woman visit and preventative screenings.
- Get active.
- Eat healthy.
- Pay attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress.
- Avoid unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, texting while driving, and not wearing a seatbelt or bicycle helmet.
At the office
It offers suggestions for those confined to an office:
- Organize a lunchtime walk with co-workers.
- Encourage everyone to stand at your next meeting.
- Host a healthy potluck or lunchtime salad bar.
- Start a friendly competition with coworkers – track steps, water intake or other health activities.
- Invite a local fitness instructor to teach a free exercise class.
- Bring in light weights to use at your desk.
Employers or public health professionals are encouraged to:
- Host a health fair.
- Hold a free or reduced-cost health screening.
- Organize a healthy cooking class or fitness activity.
- Cook up something healthy.
- Turn on your favorite music and dance.
- Sip on water instead of soda and sugary drinks to stay hydrated.
- Take a walk with neighbors or attend a fitness class.
At the beach
Living in South Florida, we have all been gifted with one of God’s most amazing natural health tools, the ocean. Unfortunately, far too few of us take the time to visit regularly and relax there. Spending time close to the sea has been proven by researchers to inspire creative thinking, reduce anxiety and promote compassionate thinking. As Christians, we know it is a wonderful way to connect with our creator as we consider the greatness of his ways. The salty ocean air not only helps relieve asthma, bronchitis and sinus pressure but the negatively charged hydrogen ions absorb oxygen and balance out serotonin levels, which result in more energy and improved mood. Vitamin D from the sun will improve autoimmune protection, increase endorphins, lower cancer risk and enhance bone health. Research shows that even with a healthy sunscreen applied Vitamin D can still be absorbed. Salt water is also an incredible healer, and swimming in the ocean enhances the immune system, boosts circulation and hydrates the skin. Rich in magnesium, sea water relaxes muscles and induces sleep and is a much healthier medium to swim in than a chlorinated pool. Salt water has unique antibacterial and antifungal properties and naturally contains iodine which helps boost the function of the thyroid gland thus enhancing immune function.
As women, we owe it to our families to take good care of ourselves. Time management is vital in scheduling time for health; as Benjamin Franklin said: “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” Staying hydrated, cutting down on our sugar intake, taking two 10-minute walks daily and eating more fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to start. Why not make some calls and arrange to meet your girlfriends down by the beach this weekend? There is nothing like a sunrise over the ocean to remind us of how amazing and powerful our God is.
Andrea Goff hosts Choosing Joy, a support group for people dealing with ongoing medical conditions, pain, anxiety or depression. For information, contact [email protected].