This week is National Women’s Health Week, led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health. Designated to serve as an important reminder for women to make their health a priority, National Women’s Health Week is a time for women of all ages to build positive mental and physical health habits for life. In celebration of National Women’s Health Week, we’re taking a closer look at some steps to take to lead a healthier life at any age.
Eat a healthy diet
As we get older, it’s normal to experience changes in the way our bodies react to and process food. For example, some senior women may have a decreased appetite or even develop food allergies later in life. Eating a balanced and nutrient-rich diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and even ward off problems such as diabetes, heart conditions, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist to create a healthy eating plan that’s right for your needs.
Regular physical activity provides countless health benefits for women of all ages. Exercise helps us reach and maintain a healthy weight, sleep better, reduce stress, and may even help prevent certain disease. Try a low impact activity such as walking, yoga, swimming, and even dancing for a safe, fun, and effective ways to get your daily exercise without putting excess pressure on your joints. Most importantly, be sure to speak with your health care provider before starting any new exercise program.
Reduce stress levels
Everyone experiences stress from time to time, but chronic stress is a serious mental and physical health concern that often impacts older adults. In fact, women are more likely to report feeling stressed than men. As we age, coping with stress can become more difficult, and prolonged stress is commonly associated with senior health problems like anxiety, depression, insomnia, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Some healthy ways to help reduce stress include meditation, healthy eating, and exercise. Many people also find that building and maintaining strong social connections also help them to reduce and manage stress.
Protect your skin from the sun
It’s never too late to begin protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Especially as we grow older, it can be harder for our skin to bounce back from sun damage and overexposure. Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, is quickly becoming an emerging senior health issue because the risk of melanoma increases with age. Luckily, there are simple steps you can take now to protect your skin from future sun damage or skin cancer. If you’re headed outside, wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 to 50 to protect your skin and remember to reapply every few hours. For added protection, wear a hat and sunglasses and stay in the shade as much as possible.
Maintain and improve oral health
Proper dental care is another essential aspect of living a healthy lifestyle, and it’s particularly important to maintain healthy oral habits as you get older. This is because older adults are at an increased risk of developing gum disease, which may lead to painful inflammation in the mouth. Seniors are also at risk for experiencing chronic dry mouth due to the side effects of medications, which can cause tooth and root decay. Stay ahead of any oral health problems by scheduling regular checkups with your dentist and continue to brush and floss each day.
Exercise your brain
Just as physical exercise helps to keeps our bodies strong, mental exercises help to sharpen our minds as we get older. Try engaging in brain training exercises such as playing a challenging puzzle or game, reading, learning a foreign language, trying a new hobby, or playing an instrument to help slow or reverse the effects of age-related cognitive decline.
There’s no better time than the present to work toward living a healthier, happier lifestyle. Be sure to schedule your yearly preventative visit with your doctor to check in on your current needs and future wellness goals. Your doctor will be able to recommend any screenings, vaccines or preventative care services that you may need.