National Women’s Checkup Day is part of National Women’s Health Week—an observance led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health (OWH) and dedicated to improving the physical and mental health of women of all ages by promoting activities and events designed to educate, inspire and empower each of us to become a “well woman.”
Because regular checkups and health screenings are an important part of NWHW, today is set aside as a reminder for women to proactive when it comes to their health—most importantly by scheduling an annual “well-woman visit” with their healthcare practitioner. During the visit, women are encouraged to discuss health habits and family history, undergo or schedule necessary screenings and exams, and set health goals for the year ahead. Here are three quick and easy goals to help you get started!
- Eat Your Fruits and Veggies: Do your best to include more low-sugar fruits and non-starchy veggies in your daily diet. Among their many health benefits, two recent studies revealed: 7 or more daily servings reduces your risk of death at any age by 42 percent; and women who reported eating the most fruits and vegetables (8–9 servings daily) in their 20s were less likely to have calcified plaque—an early indication of heart disease—in their arteries in their 40s.
- Get Active! The World Health Organization Global Burden of Disease study ranked physical inactivity as one of the leading causes of disease in developed countries—and as one of the top modifiable risk factors, along with smoking. That means you have the power to improve your well-being just by choosing to get up and get active! Regular exercise is important for both physical and mental health, so aim for 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week.
- Sleep an Extra Hour a Day: Clinical studies continue to reveal the link between a lack of sleep and poor health—from weight gain and obesity to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. While most people average about 6 hours or fewer each night, experts recommend between 7 and 9 hours for optimal health. If you’re not getting enough sleep, start small: try adding an extra hour by wrapping up your day a little earlier and making a conscious effort to get in bed. Creating a darker sleeping environment (i.e. no added light from electronic devices or outside sources) may help you fall asleep more easily.
Did You Know…?
Under the Affordable Care Act, well-woman visits are considered preventive and are covered by most health plans at no cost. During your well-woman visit, you can receive many screenings free of charge, such as screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, cervical cancer, and more. And if your health care provider says you need more than one well-woman visit in a year, the additional visits are also covered.i