Five things every mother should do to stay healthy

Five things every mother should do to stay healthy

Mother’s Day is the start of National Women’s Health Week (May 11 – 17), which encourages women of every age to make their health a priority and take simple steps to live a safer and healthier life. Celebrate your health with these tips – and keep up the good habits all year long.

Rev your engine

“In short, exercise helps keep you younger longer,” explains Francoise Adan, MD, Medical Director, Connor Integrative Medicine Network. “It strengthens your heart, helps you manage your cholesterol, blood pressure and weight, elevates the mood and helps with anxiety.” Yet two-thirds of women do not get regular physical activity. It is important to try for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week, such as brisk walking, bicycling or dancing. If you are looking to lose weight, you will need to aim for 60 to 90 minutes a day.

Need more motivation? Research indicates that exercise also decreases the incidence of depression.

Use the right fuel

Every day, you have numerous opportunities to give your body good nutrition for preventive maintenance. “Follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Choose My Plate plan, sticking to a low-fat diet and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables to reduce your risk for obesity, heart disease and cancer,” says Dr. Adan. Check out MyPlate, and get tips for ordering healthier restaurant meals, at ChooseMyPlate.gov.

Sleep well

“Getting too little sleep (six hours or less) or sleeping too much (10 hours or more) each night is significantly associated with coronary heart disease, diabetes and stroke,” explains Dr. Adan. “That means getting adequate sleep – ideally seven to nine hours each night – may help prevent a chronic health condition from developing.”

Reduce risks

“Whether you are 25 or 65, get the recommended screenings for your age group – and spread the word to other women in your family,” recommends Dr. Adan. Experts recommend that healthy women beginning at age 40 get screened for breast cancer every year. Just like younger women, older women who do not get regular screenings are more likely to have larger tumors and later-stage cancer by the time the disease is detected. As long as she is in good health and treatment would help save her life, your mother, grandmother or dear aunt should continue getting regular mammograms.

Manage stress

Experts agree that stress is hard on your body. It can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety, depression and other health problems. Take steps to tame stress. “Pay attention to your body’s stress signals,” says Dr. Adan. “Stress warning signs include tension in your neck, shoulders and back, or headaches, upset stomach and even chest pain.” Dr. Adan offers these tips to manage your stress:

  • Exercise 30 minutes each day. It can lower stress and give you a mood boost.
  • Eat healthy meals and get a good night’s sleep.
  • See your doctor regularly and get care for existing and new health problems.
  • Meditate and be mindful. Dr. Adan says, “Take a moment to take a deep breath and be present in the now. If you do not take care of yourself, you will not be able to take care of others.”
  • Celebrate your success, no matter how small. Dr. Adan says, “Recognize that not every day is going to be a 30-minute exercise day, but whatever you are able to do – even if it is only five minutes – is better than nothing.”

Watch a video on the health benefits of meditation

Go to UHhospitals.org/IntegrativeMedicine to see Dr. Adan discuss the health benefits of meditation and other forms of integrative medicine.

Francoise Adan

Francoise Adan, MD
Medical Director, Connor Integrative Medicine Network Assistant Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

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