A healthy lifestyle can help you thrive throughout your life. Making healthy choices isn’t always easy, however. It can be hard to find the time and energy to exercise regularly or prepare healthy meals. However, your efforts will pay off in many ways, and for the rest of your life.
Steps you can take:
- Be physically active for 30 minutes most days of the week. Break this up into three 10-minute sessions when pressed for time. Healthy movement may include walking, sports, dancing, yoga, running or other activities you enjoy.
- Eat a well-balanced, low-fat diet with lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose a diet that’s low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and moderate in sugar, salt and total fat.
- Avoid injury by wearing seatbelts and bike helmets, using smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the home, and using street smarts when walking alone. If you own a gun, recognize the dangers of having a gun in your home. Use safety precautions at all times.
- Don’t smoke, or quit if you do. Ask your health care provider for help. UCSF’s Tobacco Education Center offers smoking cessation and relapse prevention classes as well as doctor consultations for smokers trying to quit.
- Drink in moderation if you drink alcohol. Never drink before or while driving, or when pregnant.
- Ask someone you trust for help if you think you might be addicted to drugs or alcohol.
- Help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS by using condoms every time you have sexual contact. Condoms aren’t 100 percent foolproof, so discuss STI screening with your provider. Birth control methods other than condoms, such as pills and implants, won’t protect you from STIs or HIV.
- Brush your teeth after meals with a soft or medium bristled toothbrush. Also brush after drinking and before going to bed. Use dental floss daily.
- Stay out of the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun’s harmful rays are strongest. You are not protected if it is cloudy or if you are in the water — harmful rays pass through both. Use a broad spectrum sunscreen that guards against both UVA and UVB rays, with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Select sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of the sun’s rays.
Maintaining a Healthy Outlook
Women today have busy, demanding lives. You may feel pulled in different directions and experience stress from dealing with work, family and other matters, leaving little time for yourself. Learning to balance your life with some time for yourself will pay off with big benefits — a healthy outlook and better health.
Steps you can take:
- Stay in touch with family and friends.
- Be involved in your community.
- Maintain a positive attitude and do things that make you happy.
- Keep your curiosity alive. Lifelong learning is beneficial to your health.
- Healthy intimacy takes all forms but is always free of coercion.
- Learn to recognize and manage stress in your life. Signs of stress include trouble sleeping, frequent headaches and stomach problems; being angry a lot; and turning to food, drugs and alcohol to relieve stress.
- Good ways to deal with stress include regular exercise, healthy eating habits and relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing or meditation. Talking to trusted family members and friends can help a lot. Some women find that interacting with their faith community is helpful in times of stress.
- Get enough sleep and rest. Adults need around eight hours of sleep a night.
- Talk to your health care provider if you feel depressed for more than a few days; depression is a treatable illness. Signs of depression include feeling empty and sad, crying a lot, loss of interest in life, and thoughts of death or suicide. If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, get help right away. Call 911, a local crisis center or (800) SUICIDE.