March is Women’s history month and a time to reflect on their achievements. While women have overcome many obstacles over the past 50 years in terms of pay, respect, education, making decision regarding reproduction, job opportunities and entering same sex marriages, they still have a way to go when it comes to personal health. Millions of women continue to play an important role in the family. They bear children and take time to look after them. At all times, women always place the family first and this often leads to neglect of themselves.
Women have always been the bedrock of the family- they take an enormous amount of time and burden to bear children and then spend even longer time looking after them. They always sacrifice for the family and it is time to give them a break. The theme for Women’s History Month is that this is ‘your time’ and they should make health a priority.
What is often not mentioned is that women continue to have inequalities in health. Sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies are at an all time high. More important is the fact that non-communicable disorders like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease are now more frequent in older women. Today, girls are less likely to exercise and more like to be obese as they grow. Even though women have a longer lifespan than men by an average of 7 years, they also do have to live alone for many years and suffer from a number of chronic disorders with advancing age.
One common reason why women’s mental and physical health is often worse than men is because they often place the health of other members of the family ahead of their needs. Everyday a few hours are spent cleaning the home, shuttling children from school and sport activities or putting long hours at the office. This means they have less time to exercise, sleep or plan their meals– all activities that are essential for promoting a good quality of life. So for this month, women may want to take at least an hour and use that precious time to do the following:
- Catch some sleep. One of the most neglected threats to a women’s health is lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation leads to irritability, difficulty concentrating, and constant fatigue; so develop good sleep hygiene, and get at least 6.5 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Sleep is vital for healthy functioning of the body. Plus, it will make you look refreshed and young; and you also reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Exercise: No matter how busy you are, you should become physically active. Any physical activity is better than no activity. Do any type of exercise, even walking will suffice. If you want, get a buddy and go on a walk, take a Zumba class or do a yoga video. Exercise not only helps keep the weight down, it lowers blood pressure and diminishes the risk of diabetes. Plus, the slimmer you look, the more confidence and self-esteem you will gain.
- Eat healthy: We live in a world where fast food is readily available on every street and ordering is very easy. But any day of the week, eating a healthy home cooked meal is far superior to any type of fast food. Healthy meals tend to be low in fat and salt, contain more vegetables and fiber and do not contain junk calories that make you gain unwanted pounds.
- Develop friendship(s): Way too many women these days are busy with their personal and professional life. The hectic schedule doesn’t allow them to relax. So take time out and develop friendships. Share your stories with a friend as this can provide support and stress relief.
- Couple time & communicate: One of the most common reasons for discord in a relationship is the lack of communication. So rather than wait for your partner to start the conversation, take the first step. Go out for a walk; hold hands and just chat about the birds and bees. Communication is one of the best ways to ease stress and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Discontinue bad habits. Today more women than men smoke; but smoking is not a benign activity; besides causing lung cancer, it also causes premature aging of the skin and wrinkles. People who smoke also develop bad breath and have a distinctly unattractive odor. So quit the habit today. Not only will it reduce your risk of lung cancer, it will keep your skin looking young and smooth.
- Ease stress: Finally take some time out and just relax. You can do this by meditation, practicing yoga, deep breathing or performing tai chi. These activities can clear your mind, bring balance between the physical and mental state, improve posture and makes the joints more flexible.
Women should realize that for the most part, their victories in society have been achieved by working as a team. However, when it comes to your health, the onus is on you. If you do not take care of your health, no one else can do it for you- so start today and make everyday worth living.
Thanks for reading!
Contributor: Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness & Wellness. Mile High Fitness & Wellness offers in-home personal training and corporate wellness solutions. Visit www.milehighfitness.com or email email@example.com