Over the last 30 years we have seen big improvements in women’s health, including fewer deaths from heart disease, a decline in cancer rates and better access to physical and mental health care. Still, 13% of all women in the United States are considered to be in “fair or poor health,” and less than half are meeting the federal guidelines for physical activity.
National Women’s Health & Fitness Day is dedicated to helping women of all ages understand the importance of exercise and health awareness. Walks, workshops and other events will take place in communities nationwide, but here are three quick tips to help you get a head start on staying healthy:
- Get active. A recent study found that women who participated in just 2.5 hours of moderate exercise (such as brisk walking) each week had a 25% lower risk of heart disease than those who didn’t exercise at all. And if you walk outdoors, you double the benefits! Researchers at the University of Michigan recently found that women who engaged in weekly group nature walks reported enhanced mental health and improved overall well-being, along with fewer signs of depression and stress.
- Eat a healthy diet. Choosing the right foods is important for a healthy body and mind, but where do you start? Numerous studies point to a Mediterranean-style diet rich in healthy fats, protein, leafy green veggies, low-sugar fruits, nuts and legumes. Known for its cardiovascular benefits, the Mediterranean diet has also been shown to support weight management, healthy aging and even a balanced gut.
- Hit snooze. Too little sleep has been linked to weight gain, a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, mood changes and more. Experts recommend 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night for optimal health, but many women fall short of that goal. Start small by wrapping up your day a little earlier and making a conscious effort to get in bed an hour before your normal bed time. Creating a darker sleeping environment and/or putting away electronic devices may help you fall asleep more easily.