Exercise Does a Woman’s Body Good
Women…who are we? We are different from men in numerous ways, especially in our health issues. Not only do we have a different set of chromosomes and reproductive organs, but we have special concerns to address for our physical well-being. Symptoms and important warning signs can manifest themselves in our bodies in a much more diverse and varying way than in a man’s body. Therefore, it is imperative that women’s health issues be treated differently.
Women statistically live longer than men, and more healthfully. The leading cause of death among all Americans (male or female) is heart disease. This includes hypertension, heart attacks, atherosclerosis (plaque buildup of the vessels in the body), and heart failure. Additionally, strokes are the third leading cause of death in women.
Smart women have their blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides checked regularly (and take their medication, if prescribed), maintain a healthy weight, eat a low-fat diet, and are active to help prevent heart disease. And they do not ignore critical warning signs such as chest pain, pain that radiates from chest to arms, shoulders, and the jaw, shortness of breath, palpitations, unexplained sweating, a sudden weakness in one side of the body, a severe headache, slurred speech, blurred vision, and loss of balance. If smart women experience any of these symptoms they know it is a medical emergency and call 911.
The second leading cause of death in women is cancer. One in three women will have a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths with breast and colon cancer following, respectively. Smart women get the regular recommended screenings (mammograms, pap smears, colonoscopies, etc), do not use tobacco products, do consume large amounts of fruits and vegetables, do stay physically active, do not drink less than two alcohol beverages a day, and do wear sunscreen.
Another disease that primarily targets female bodies is osteoporosis (although men can get it). The devastating impact of a hip or spinal fracture is life-altering. Prevention is the best defense against osteoporosis. Smart women get bone density screenings, take supplemental calcium with vitamin D, eat a calcium rich diet, exercise regularly including weight bearing and balance work, and get a minimum amount of sun exposure (20 minutes a day).
Menopause is a normal part of the female human maturation process. It is defined by an absence of your menstrual cycle for one full year. It is a different journey for every woman. Some ladies sail through it with very little impact on their daily lives, while others suffer symptoms such as changes in your period, hot flashes, problems with vagina and bladder, sleep disturbance, altered sex drive, mood changes and body changes such as thicker waist, thinner skin, more body fat and less muscle tone, memory changes, and joint stiffening
Smart women listen to their bodies, discuss with their doctors the best treatment (if any) for them, and do not smoke (it causes early onset of menopause). Other actions that smart women take include wearing their seatbelts, wearing helmets when biking (or motorcycling), getting annual influenza shots and the Pneumococcal and Shingles vaccine, drinking plenty of water and making sleep a priority.
Above all of these recommendations, the most important thing a smart woman does is trust your own instincts because nobody knows yourself as well as you do. Ask questions, live, laugh, love but remember to take care of yourself first, so that you can take care of others, and never, ever be afraid to ask for help when you need it
Carey Coleman, RN is the Professional Geriatric Care Manager at Senior Select Home Health and may be reached at 972-569-8157.