Whether you’re a man or woman, living a long, healthy life doesn’t just happen. We are in charge of our health destiny and part of that destiny is the responsibility of taking care of our bodies as we know best.
There comes a point in everyone’s life when you need to take matters in your own hands. Taking care of your health is one such matter that should be at the top of everyone’s list. And for women, health is one important part of their life not to ignore.
Women, for the most part, are better at taking care of their health than men. They are generally very good at keeping appointments with their doctor and taking prescribed medications as directed. They usually make their annual visit to the gynecologist, have yearly mammograms, try to fix healthy meals and sneak in some exercise when they can. Besides, women live longer than men on average with an average life expectancy of 78.8 years – so they must be doing something right, correct?
But there are some common mistakes many women make that could be sabotaging their health unnecessarily. Little things they are doing that can make a huge difference in whether they enjoy good health or not. Here are the top health mistakes women make and what they can do to remedy them:
- Skipping an annual physical
Many women believe that the annual trip to the gynecologist to get their pap smear and a hands-on breast exam is all that is required to keep tabs on their health. How untrue.
What needs to be done – All women need a yearly comprehensive routine physical exam. This type of exam will include blood and urine tests, screening a woman for other health conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, thyroid conditions, anemia, and nutrient deficiencies. A gynecologist does not routinely test for these conditions. Unless a woman has these tests conducted, she may find out too late that something could have been done much earlier if she had been tested sooner.
Having unprotected sex
Some women have the belief that having unprotected sex just once, maybe twice, surely won’t lead to anything. This naïve and foolish thinking can land a woman in more health hot water than she can even imagine.
What needs to be done – Anytime a woman has unprotected sex, unless in a mutually monogamous long-term relationship, she is in danger of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Otherwise, condoms are necessary every single time when she has sex. Even if she is using birth control pills, they only protect her from getting pregnant, not from a STD.
Over 140,000 women in the United States still continue to engage in the most preventable cause of death – smoking. The number of women smoking is drastically down from previous years, yet it is still unconceivable why any woman would continue to take up a very unhealthy habit. This poor choice will raise a woman’s risk of heart disease, cancer, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), infertility, miscarriage and other reproductive health issues.
What needs to be done – First, never pick up the habit of smoking to begin with. Do not assume you can easily quit. If a woman is already smoking, she needs to take the necessary steps to quit smoking. Doing so can reverse some of the damage leading to better health.
Wearing clothing too tight
When women wear skinny or tight-fitting jeans, thongs, nylon panties, or pantyhose without a cotton panel, they are taking a health risk. The reason is garments such as those mentioned, restrict airflow, holding in heat and moisture that can result in a yeast or vaginitis infection.
What needs to be done – Only wear skinny jeans on occasion and for short periods at a time. Wearing cotton panties is the better choice when it comes to an undergarment. Unlike other synthetic materials, cotton is breathable and prevents the uncomfortable buildup of moisture that can lead to itching. Also washing panties in hypoallergenic detergent may help prevent irritation as some dyes and fragrances may irritate sensitive skin.
Overeating too many simple carbohydrates
Women love their carbs. Unfortunately, it tends to be the unhealthy carbs they often choose. They love their bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, crackers, donuts, and any other carb made with white flour and sugar. Consuming these foods on occasion may be okay but when done daily, it will likely lead to weight gain. Women carrying excess weight gain are at a higher risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and gallstones.
What needs to be done – To prevent or reduce weight gain, women need to eliminate as much as possible, the unhealthy carbs. Choose instead healthy carbs loaded with a variety of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and fiber. These foods provide bulk leading to satiety, less feelings of hunger and can help keep weight in check.
Consuming too little calcium
The most abundant mineral in the human body is calcium, a nutrient women tend to skimp on. Calcium is not just for kids. It is a crucial nutrient throughout a woman’s life necessary to protect her bones from osteoporosis later in life. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, twenty percent of Caucasian women age 50 and older are estimated to be diagnosed with osteoporosis.
What needs to be done – Women need approximately between 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium each day. The best food sources of calcium are dairy foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese. There are plant-based sources of calcium such as broccoli but they are not nearly as well-absorbed as dairy foods. If a woman is lactose intolerant, there are milk products with the lactose already broken down to prevent unpleasant side effects.
Inconsistency with exercise
Women are very good at keeping busy. In fact, they are so good that they often forget to schedule in time for exercise. It’s not to say women don’t ever find time to get physical, it’s just they tend to not make it a regular, consistent practice day after day, week after week, year after year. Then when their weight creeps up or they feel tired all the time or they have lost endurance and strength, they wonder “what happened?”
What needs to be done – If anyone, men or women, want to stay in shape helping to reduce their risk of disease, exercise must be made a priority where it is done just about daily. Carving out those moments of time during the day are crucial to the benefits regular, consistent exercise will provide – increase in life expectancy, reduces symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and menopause, osteoporosis while improving overall health.
Not taking time to relax
Women are always giving. They are often on the go, hauling kids, shopping, making meals, cleaning the house, and working a job with little time for themselves. Stress in women can manifest itself in skin reactions, stomach ailments, irritability, depression, lowered immunity, high blood pressure, sleep problems, and eating disorders.
What needs to be done – Women – give yourself a break. Don’t be overwhelmed by stress but instead, take time to relax. Everyone should. Find time to enjoy little things like reading a book, taking a warm bath, going on a walk, or taking a nap. It’s amazing how those moments of enjoyment can make the difference between feeling frazzled or feeling refreshed.