The National Women's Health Information Center offers the following 10 things you can do to help live longer, live better, and live happier:
Be informed. Learn about health promotion and disease prevention and ask your healthcare provider for specific information regarding your needs.
Be good to your bones. For healthy bones, be sure to replenish your stock of calcium every day with plenty of foods such as milk and other dairy products, tofu, leafy green vegetables, canned salmon or sardines, and calcium-fortified juices or breads. Speak with your healthcare provider about calcium supplements.
Don't use illegal drugs and limit alcohol. For women, the definition of moderate drinking stops at one drink a day. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines a drink as one 5-ounce glass of wine, one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. Remember that the alcohol content of each type of drink can vary widely. Where illicit drugs are concerned, there is no such thing as "safe" or "moderate" use.
Take medicine wisely. Read the labels, follow the instructions carefully, and remind your healthcare provider or pharmacist about any other medicines or supplements you might be taking that could interact with your medicines. For your safety – to lower your risk for adverse side effects or medicine interactions, you should also let your healthcare provider know if you use any illicit or "recreational" drugs. If you have any questions about possible side effects, call your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
Play it safe. Avoid injuries. Buckle up. Wear motorcycle and bicycle helmets. Use smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Wear sunscreen and UV protected sunglasses. Use street smarts and common sense. Practice safe sex by using condoms to protect against sexually transmitted infections.
Get checked. Get regular checkups, preventive exams, and immunizations. Don't forget self-exams, too. These include skin, oral, and breast self-checks.
Don't smoke. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in our country.
Eat smart. It is the secret to good health. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Enjoy a variety of foods, balance foods from each food group, and exercise in moderation.
Get moving. The other secret to good health: just 30 minutes of physical activity, accumulated over the course of each day, can radically improve the way you look and feel, both physically and mentally.
Be happy. Take time for yourself. Get connected with family, friends, and community. Do things you enjoy!
This chart provides general healthcare guidelines for women, but is not meant to replace any advice and guidance given by your healthcare provider. Please use it as a reminder to take care of your personal healthcare needs, and also as a list of topics you may want to discuss with your healthcare provider.
Exercise 30 minutes a day.
Do an oral cavity self-exam, gums, teeth, lips, tongue
Have a dental checkup once or twice a year. Have vision and hearing checked annually.
Discuss with your healthcare provider whether you need an annual exam.
Protect yourself from the sun - use sunscreen and dress appropriately.
Do a full-body self-exam for unusual moles or other skin conditions. Have your healthcare provider examine moles annually, or immediately for suspicious growths.
Have a pelvic exam and Pap test starting at age 21.Talk with your healthcare provider about his or her recommendations for further testing and screening for the human papillomavirus, or HPV.*
After age 50:
Have a fecal occult blood test every year, or have a flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, OR
Have a double contrast barium enema every 5 years, OR
Have a colonoscopy every 10 years
Start screening with a colonoscopy at age 45 in African Americans
Watch your fat intake - no more than 25 % to 35% of your calorie intake. Most fats should come from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
Be aware of your weight, check your BMI (body mass index)
Have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked
Starting at age 45: every 5 years have a full lipid profile test for cholesterol and triglycerides.
Earlier screening is recommended if you have risk factors for coronary artery disease.
Eat sources of protein such as lean or low-fat meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts.
Eat 5 to 9 services of fruits and vegetables daily.
At least half of all of the grains eaten should be whole-grains.
Consume 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products per day.
Talk with your doctor about when you should have a mammogram.
Get pneumococcal and shingles vaccines. Ask your healthcare provider if any other vaccinations are needed or if immunization recommendations have changed.
After age 65: get the pneumococcal vaccines; also recommended for those younger than 65 who have medical problems that increase the risk for serious complications and death
Be aware of your alcohol intake and stress level.
Get a flu shot.
Get a tetanus/diphtheria (td) booster every 10 years
* The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women have their first Pap test at age 21. Women ages 21 to 29 should have a Pap test every 3 years. Women 30 and older are recommended to have co-testing with cytology and HPV every 5 years, or cytology every 3 years. It's reasonable to discontinue screening for cervical cancer in women age 65 and over after receiving negative prior screening tests if there is no history of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) 2+ within the last 20 years. After screening has been discontinued, it should not be resumed, even if a woman has multiple sexual partners.
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