National Women’s Health Week 2019 (May 12 to May 18) serves as a reminder for women to make health their priority and build positive health habits for life. You can use this week as a stepping stone to begin living a healthier life today. Dr. Tuvana Bain, internist at Westmed, says that these changes do not have to be huge to make a big difference. Dr. Bain shares these FIVE recommendations for simple changes to your everyday habits that can make an impact on your health.
Tip 1: Decrease Your Screen Time
Chances are that you sometimes feel guilty about the amount of time you spend on your phone or device. There are good reasons to put down the phone and engage in real life – being present and mindful is healthier for your brain and your body and it sets a good example for your kids. It is difficult to reprimand your children for spending too much time on “the screen” if they see their parents replicating that same behavior on their own devices.
Some small steps to decrease screen time include: start by instituting “device free dinner” to get your family used to using that time to engage in conversation, and share details about their day. If you are ready for a bigger leap, try a whole weekend day without your phone. You can also change your phone settings to grayscale to tone down the intense color and mute over stimulation.
Tip 2: Exercise – You Can Start Small!
Studies show that just about any amount of exercise is beneficial – you don’t have to start training for a marathon. The ideal is 150 minutes a week of exercise, but think of this goal as 30 minute walks, every other day. To get started, just try parking a little farther from the store entrance, getting off the bus a few stops early and walking, or taking the stairs at work every day versus the escalator or elevator.
Tip 3: Rest – You Deserve It
Sleep is underrated as a restorative measure – there is no pill that has the equivalent healing effect of a full night’s sleep. That said, it is hard for busy moms to carve out the time for 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. A more realistic approach is to aim to go to bed 15 minutes earlier, commit to putting down the screen 30 minutes prior to lights-out, and to limit alcohol intake before bedtime. A glass of wine may make you sleepy in the short term, but alcohol disrupts your sleep cycle and you will wake up unrefreshed.
Tip 4: Make Healthy Changes to Your Diet
In terms of diet improvement, I am a proponent of a fusion Mediterranean/pescatarian diet. Try to shift away from red meat (beef/lamb/pork) and incorporate more fish into your meals. Increase your focus on vegetables, especially leafy greens. I also tell almost all of my patients to avoid juice and soda, as these are unnecessary simple sugars that can tip a patient who is already high-risk into the diabetic zone.
TIP 5: Stay Up to Date on Your Preventive Screening
Make time for yourself and go to your regular well-checks with your internist who can guide you on the preventive screenings needed for your age range. These can include cholesterol, blood pressure and hormone screening. When you reach age 40+ your internist can connect you with a convenient radiology department for annual mammograms and a gastroenterologist for regular colon cancer screening. You should also be sure to have a yearly appointment with your OB/GYN to do a breast exam and screen for cervical cancer. Having regular screenings could catch an illness it its early stages and could ultimately save your life.
If you want to make changes to your lifestyle to improve your overall health and wellness, you can make an appointment with an internal medicine specialist today. Westmed providers can help you implement these changes every step of the way from weight loss and nutrition to scheduling regular well checks with your doctors. Your health is important!