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Women's Wellness

  • Comprehensive Women’s Healthcare
  • Screen Tests and Vaccines
  • Jugglers of multiple roles
    • Women are known to take on many roles, for instance, wives, mothers, caretakers and workers. Unlike the “typical” woman of past generations where the primary role was to meet their family needs, most women today have a blended lifestyle of work and family.'

Due to the increasing demands that women juggle, they can become overwhelmed when they are unable to meet all obligations. It is very common that women spend more time meeting the needs of others rather than fostering their own needs which can ultimately lead to stress. Stress happens when people feel like they don’t have the tools to manage all of the demands in their lives. 

Can stress affect my health?

The body responds to stress by releasing stress hormones. These hormones make blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels go up. Long-term stress can help cause a variety of health problems, including:

  1. Mental health disorders, like depression and anxiety
  2. Obesity
  3. Heart disease
  4. High blood pressure
  5. Abnormal heart beats
  6. Menstrual problems
  7. Acne and other skin problems

How can I help handle my stress?

According to womenshealth.gov, everyone has to deal with stress, but luckily there are steps you can take to help you handle stress in a positive way and keep it from making you sick. Try these tips to keep stress in check:

1. Develop a new attitude

  • Become a problem solver. Learn how to calmly look at a problem, think of possible solutions, and take action to solve the problem. Being able to solve small problems will give you confidence to tackle the big ones. And feeling confident that you can solve problems will go a long way to helping you feel less stressed.
  • Be flexible. Sometimes, it’s not worth the stress to argue. Give in once in a while or meet people halfway.
  • Get organized. Think ahead about how you’re going to spend your time. Write a to-do list. Figure out what’s most important to do and do those things first.
  • Set limits. When it comes to things like work and family, figure out what you can really do. There are only so many hours in the day. Set limits for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to say NO to requests for your time and energy.

2. Relax

  • Take deep breaths. If you're feeling stressed, taking a few deep breaths makes you breathe slower and helps your muscles relax.
  • Stretch. Stretching can also help relax your muscles and make you feel less tense.
  • Massage tense muscles. Having someone massage the muscles in the back of your neck and upper back can help you feel less tense.
  • Take time to do something you want to do. We all have lots of things that we have to do. But often we don't take the time to do the things that we really want to do. It could be listening to music, reading a good book, or going to a movie. Think of this as an order from your doctor, so you won’t feel guilty!

3. Take care of your body

  • Get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep helps you recover from the stresses of the day. Also, being well-rested helps you think better so that you are prepared to handle problems as they come up. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night to feel rested.
  • Eat right. Try to fuel up with fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Don’t be fooled by the jolt you get from caffeine or high-sugar snack foods. Your energy will wear off, and you could wind up feeling more tired than you did before.
  • Get moving. Getting physical activity can not only help relax your tense muscles but improve your mood. Research shows that physical activity can help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Don’t deal with stress in unhealthy ways. This includes drinking too much alcohol, using drugs, smoking, or overeating.

4. Get Moving

How can physical activity improve my health?

The new 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans state that an active lifestyle can lower your risk of early death from a variety of causes. There is strong evidence that regular physical activity can also lower your risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Unhealthy cholesterol levels
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Colon cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Falls
  • Depression

According to womenshealth.gov, regular activity can help prevent unhealthy weight gain and also help with weight loss, when combined with lower calorie intake. If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can lower your risk for many diseases. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, osteoarthritis, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea (breathing problems while sleeping), and some cancers.

Regular physical activity can also improve your cardiorespiratory (heart, lungs, and blood vessels) and muscular fitness. For older adults, activity can improve mental function.

Physical activity may also help:

  • Improve functional health for older adults
  • Reduce waistline size
  • Lower risk of hip fracture
  • Lower risk of lung cancer
  • Lower risk of endometrial cancer
  • Maintain weight after weight loss
  • Increase bone density
  • Improve sleep quality

How much physical activity should I do?

Health benefits are gained by doing the following each week:

  • 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity; or
  • 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity; or
  • A combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity; and
  • Muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days

This physical activity should be in addition to your routine activities of daily living, such as cleaning or spending a few minutes walking from the parking lot to your office.

Moderate activity

During moderate-intensity activities you should notice an increase in your heart rate, but you should still be able to talk comfortably. An example of a moderate-intensity activity is walking on a level surface at a brisk pace (about 3 to 4 miles per hour). Other examples include ballroom dancing, leisurely bicycling, moderate housework, and waiting tables.

Vigorous activity

If your heart rate increases a lot and you are breathing so hard that it is difficult to carry on a conversation, you are probably doing vigorous-intensity activity. Examples of vigorous-intensity activities include jogging, bicycling fast or uphill, singles tennis, and pushing a hand mower.

Does the type of physical activity I choose matter?

Yes! Engaging in different types of physical activity is important to overall physical fitness. Your fitness routine should include aerobic and strength-training activities, and may also include stretching activities.

Aerobic activities

These activities move large muscles in your arms, legs, and hips over and over again. Examples include walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming, and tennis.

Strength-training activities

These activities increase the strength and endurance of your muscles. Examples of strength-training activities include working out with weight machines, free weights, and resistance bands. (A resistance band looks like a giant rubber band. You can buy one at a sporting goods store.) Push-ups and sit-ups are examples of strength-training activities you can do without any equipment. You also can use soup cans to work out your arms.

Aim to do strength-training activities at least twice a week. In each strength-training session, you should do 8 to 10 different activities using the different muscle groups throughout your body, such as the muscles in your abdomen, chest, arms, and legs. Repeat each activity 8 to 12 times, using a weight or resistance that will make you feel tired. When you do strength-training activities, slowly increase the amount of weight or resistance that you use. Also, allow one day in between sessions to avoid excess strain on your muscles and joints.

Stretching

Stretching improves flexibility, allowing you to move more easily. This will make it easier for you to reach down to tie your shoes or look over your shoulder when you back the car out of your driveway. You should do stretching activities after your muscles are warmed up — for example, after strength training. Stretching your muscles before they are warmed up may cause injury.

How can I prevent injuries when I work out?

Being physically active is safe if you are careful. Take these steps to prevent injury:

  • If you're not active at all or have a health problem, start your program with short sessions (5 to 10 minutes) of physical activity and build up to your goal. (Be sure to ask a doctor before you start if you have a health problem.)
  • Use safety equipment such as a helmet for bike riding or supportive shoes for walking or jogging.
  • Start every workout with a warm-up. If you plan to walk at a brisk pace, start by walking at an easy pace for 5 to 10 minutes. When you're done working out, do the same thing until your heart rate returns to normal.
  • Drink plenty of fluids when you are physically active, even if you are not thirsty.
  • Use sunscreen when you are outside.
  • Always bend forward from the hips, not the waist. If you keep your back straight, you're probably bending the right way. If your back "humps," that's probably wrong.
  • Stop your activity if you feel very out of breath, dizzy, nauseous, or have pain. If you feel tightness or pain in your chest, or you feel faint or have trouble breathing, stop the activity right away and talk to your doctor.

Exercise should not hurt or make you feel really tired. You might feel some soreness, a little discomfort, or a bit weary. But you should not feel pain. In fact, in many ways, being active will probably make you feel better.

What are some tips to help me get moving?

Fit it into a busy schedule
  • If you can't set aside one block of time, do short activities throughout the day, such as three 10-minute walks.
  • Create opportunities for activity. Try parking your car farther away from where you are headed. If you ride the bus or train, get off one or two stops early and walk.
  • Walk or bike to work or to the store.
  • Use stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
  • Take breaks at work to stretch or take quick walks, or do something active with coworkers at lunch.
  • Walk while you talk, if you're using a cellphone or cordless phone.
  • Doing yard work or household chores counts as physical activity. Turn on some upbeat music to help you do chores faster and speed up your heart rate.
  • Make it fun
  • Choose activities that you enjoy.
  • Vary your activities, so you don't get bored. For instance, use different jogging, walking, or biking paths. Or bike one day, and jog the next.
  • Reward yourself when you achieve your weekly goals. For instance, reward yourself by going to a movie.
  • If you have children, make time to play with them outside. Set a good example!
  • Plan active vacations that will keep you moving, such as taking tours and sightseeing on foot.
  • Make it social
  • Join a hiking or running club.
  • Go dancing with your partner or friends.
  • Turn activities into social occasions — for example, go to a movie after you and a friend work out.
  • Overcome challenges
  • Don't let cold weather keep you on the couch. You can find activities to do in the winter, such as indoor fitness classes or exercising to a workout video.
  • If you live in a neighborhood where it is unsafe to be active outdoors, contact your local recreational center or church to see if they have indoor activity programs that you can join. You can also find ways to be active at home. For instance, you can do push-ups or lift hand weights. If you don't have hand weights, you can use canned foods or bottles filled with water or sand.

on't expect to notice body changes right away. It can take weeks or months before you notice some of the changes from being physically active, such as weight loss. And keep in mind, many benefits of physical activity are happening inside you and you cannot see them.

How to eat for health

You've probably seen many articles in the media telling you what to eat and not eat. All this information can be confusing. You may be left wondering how much of different types of foods you should eat to stay healthy.

To help you choose foods wisely, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture have developed several tools, including:

  • Healthy eating plans with interactive websites that help you choose foods based on your height, weight, and other information
  • The Nutrition Facts label on food packages
  • A Nutrient Database for foods that don't come in packages

Eating in a healthy manner isn't hard at all. To help prevent heart disease, stroke, and perhaps other diseases, you should eat mainly:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Grains (at least half of your grains should be whole grains, such as whole wheat, oatmeal, and brown rice)
  • Fat-free or low-fat versions of milk, cheese, yogurt, and other milk products
  • Fish, skinless poultry, lean red meats, dry beans, eggs, and nuts
  • Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats

Also, you should limit the amount of foods you eat that contain:

  • Saturated fat
  • Trans fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium
  • Added sugars

If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For women, that means one drink per day. One drink is defined as:

  • 12 fluid ounces of regular beer
  • 5 fluid ounces of wine
  • 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits

Following a healthy eating plan doesn't mean that you can't indulge every now and then. If what you eat is generally low in fat (especially saturated and trans fat) and sugars and you are getting enough vitamins and minerals, you may indulge in a rich dessert or serving of fried food every once in a while. If, on the other hand, you eat a lot of high-calorie foods, you are likely to get all the calories you need quickly without getting enough vital nutrients.