It’s National Women’s Health Week. We’re celebrating the women in our lives with a three-part series.
Let’s be honest: statistics about heart disease, cancer and diabetes are often scary and intimidating. And they can make us feel like the fate of our health is up to our genes and out of our hands.
But there’s actually a LOT you can do to put yourself on the right health track. You’ve no doubt heard the spiel on eating healthy and working out – and we’re huge advocates of both. But there are also some guidelines just for women that you should tuck into your healthy living arsenal. They’re not at all scary – in fact, we think you’ll like what you read.
5 Keys to a Long, Healthy Life
1. Choose red wine over cocktails. This advice is SO not a drag! Red wine is loaded with antioxidants and resveratrol, which is good for your heart. Just keep it to one glass a day to reap the benefits and avoid the downside – which includes increased risk of high blood pressure, high triglycerides, liver damage, obesity, certain types of cancer, accidents and other problems.
2. Mix fitness and friendship (or family). A great way to bond with your friends and family is to meet for a walk, run, hike, paddle or yoga class. Think about it: the more you do it, the healthier and fitter you get – AND the more quality time you can spend with the people you love.
3. Girls’ Night Out is a MUST. Speaking of girlfriends, research shows that social interaction is key to both physical and mental health. We know that laughter is often the best medicine, lowering our stress response and triggering relaxation. But interestingly, low social interaction is just as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, never exercising and being an alcoholic – and it’s twice as dangerous as being obese. Talk about serious justification for time out with gal pals. (Don’t forget the glass of red wine!)
4. Fruit, veggies, water, portion control. No one expects you to down a balanced plate of expertly prepared and arranged food. But eating healthy is simpler than it seems – and it’s OK to tackle it a little at a time.
Start with snacking by replacing breads and sweets with fruits and veggies (try dipping them in hummus or guacamole for some zip). Then experiment with beverages – club soda with lime instead of Diet Coke, water with fresh-squeezed lemon instead of sugary lemonade. And don’t completely deprive yourself of treats you love – just limit them. Try three bites of chocolate instead of a whole bar, and give dark chocolate a whirl (it’s loaded with more of those healthy antioxidants).
5. Sleep – you need it more than he does. We know we harp on sleep a lot. But Scientists at Duke University recently discovered that women need more sleep than men – and are likely not getting enough. The study revealed that women’s health suffers more from lack of sleep, including a higher risk of heart disease, depression and inflammation. If getting six to eight hours of shut-eye a night is tough (ahem, moms with little ones), try to sneak in 25-minute or 90-minute naps.