The last Wednesday of September is recognized as National Women’s Health and Fitness Day!
This day, taking place on Sept. 30, is the largest national annual health promotion event for women of all ages. Along with participating in locally organized events, National Women’s Health and Fitness Day is a chance for us to direct the focus on women’s overall health— mind and body.
With women making up 50.5% of the U.S. population, and 34% of all practicing physicians, it’s imperative that we talk openly and frequently about women’s health. This Women’s Health and Fitness Day, Topeka ER & Hospital urges you to reflect on your health and encourage the mothers, sisters, and daughters in your life to do the same.
It’s common for women to put the needs of their family and friends above their own, and not take time to care for themselves the way they would others. One of the simplest ways to stay on top of your health is to see your doctor routinely. Getting regular medical checkups increases your chances of discovering issues early, saving you time, money, and peace of mind in the long run.
Is it time to call your doctor?
Mount Sinai Medical Center recommends the following:
- Women 30 years old and younger who are healthy are advised to get a checkup every two to three years. For younger women, it’s important to ask your doctor about certain vaccines and cervical cancer screening.
- Women ages 30-40 should receive annual physicals. Common female health risks show no symptoms and can only be detected early by a doctor. Once a woman reaches 40 years old, mammograms are suggested every one to two years.
- Women 50 years and older should be meticulous about their annual physicals and checkups, as they run the highest risk for health issues. At this age, both men and women should discuss colonoscopies, pneumococcal vaccines, and influenza vaccines with their doctor.
The most common serious health issues among women are breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and obesity. Other health concerns to be mindful of as you get older include osteoporosis, vision loss, hearing loss, cognitive impairment, arthritis, and balance issues.
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer globally among both men and women, after lung cancer, and makes up 12.3% of all cancers. Although breast cancer isn’t preventable, knowing your family’s medical history and keeping up with breast exams can significantly help with early detection.
Mammography can detect tumors before they can be felt, so screening is your best bet for catching breast cancer in its earliest stages. It’s also important to establish a self-exam routine once a month as 40% of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who felt a lump. During your self-exam, check your entire breast and armpit area for any thickening, knots, or lumps. If you feel anything that raises concerns, call your healthcare provider for further evaluation, but don’t panic—8 out of 10 lumps are not cancerous!
Heart Disease and Stroke
The Women’s Heart Foundation reports that 8 million women in the U.S. are living with heart disease. Although commonly thought of as a man’s disease, more women die worldwide each year from strokes than men, and almost as many women as men die of heart disease. Women aren’t likely to encounter a stroke as early in life as men, but they are at risk from 45-65 years old.
Women are recommended to follow these guidelines to maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke:
1. Lower your blood pressure
High blood pressure is one of the largest contributors to stroke and heart disease in both men and women. Ideally, women should strive to keep their blood pressure at or below 120/80 mm Hg.
Avoiding these things can make a huge difference in maintaining your blood pressure:
- High-cholesterol foods
- Prolonged periods of immobility
2. Control your weight and exercise more
Although no one likes talking about their weight, it’s a vital factor in considering your health risks. Studies show that losing as little as ten pounds can decrease a woman’s risk of stroke and heart disease. While the ideal body mass index is 25 or less, you should work with your doctor to find a healthy BMI that’s realistic for you.
Exercising can help you lose weight and lower your blood pressure, but it also contributes to fighting stroke and heart disease on its own. Try to find 30 minutes, four to five times a week, to participate in moderately intense exercise. If you don’t have 30 consecutive minutes, try breaking your activity up into 10 or 15-minute intervals a few times a day!
Try incorporating these exercises into your weekly routine:
- Walking or running
- HIIT or bodyweight exercises
- Weightlifting – light weights count!
- Outdoor activities – tennis, golf, or playing sports with your kids or grandkids
Physical health is only one part of the equation when it comes to women’s health and wellness. Mental health is equally necessary for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and overall well-being.
More than 1 in 5 women in the United States reported experiencing a mental health condition last year. Although mental health conditions have been stigmatized in the past, we should make a collective effort to normalize and speak candidly about our common struggles.
Many mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder affect more women than men, and they do so in different ways. Depression in women is also more common post-pregnancy or pre-menopause because of the major fluctuation in hormones.
Mental health is nothing to be ashamed of, and being proactive about your mental health can improve the overall quality of your life immensely. If you feel like your mental health is a concern, contact a doctor today to discuss possible care options.
If a woman in your life is experiencing mental health warning signs, use National Women’s Health and Fitness Day as an opportunity to show support and gently start the conversation about mental health.
This National Women’s Health and Fitness Day, Topeka ER & Hospital encourages women everywhere to take the time to examine their overall health and set new wellness goals. We’re here for the women of our community 24/7, and we take pride in caring for you and your families.
Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Topeka ER & Hospital and Nutex Health state no content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.
Nutex Health, Inc supports you and your family’s health. You can depend on Topeka ER & Hospital or any one of our concierge-level, medical facilities to deliver the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays.