Hey busy NWI ladies – if we took a poll on how many of us neglect our own health as we rush from one task to the next, I have no doubt that, as a group, we would be a bit embarrassed by the number of us who preach self-care to others while neglecting ourselves. If you’re personally “not guilty”, please pass this article on to the woman next to you.
Health is an expansive topic; where do we start? Besides keeping up on regular check-ups, give some thought to which of the common health risk-factors are either evident in your life or in your family history. Statistics show that 3 in 4 heart attacks and strokes are due to risk factors that actually increase heart age and that 2 in 5 women have a heart age that is 5 or more years older than their actual age. You can determine your heart-age using the Framingham Study Heart Age Calculator at http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/cardiovasculardisease/heartage.html. (Calculate your BMI at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/losewt/BMI/bmicalc.html).
The most common reasons for increased heart age can be addressed and improved, or at least well-managed. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and diabetes. At any age, we can benefit from taking actions to reduce our health risks. Why not pick one or two that you would really like to improve? Then, to keep things from feeling overwhelming or unattainable, begin with baby steps in the right direction so that you can build your confidence with small accomplishments and lifestyle changes. Success breeds success; and the results of each healthful action increases our energy and resolve and inspires us on to the next. Think of the example you’ll be setting for your friends and loved ones, especially if you have children.
As parents, we pass a lot more down to our children than our genes. Whether for good or for bad, they pick up a lot of our habits along the way. Simple changes, like choosing water over soda or other sugar-laden drinks, go a long way toward building a healthier lifestyle. Become nutrition label readers and talk about the benefits or consequences of consuming each ingredient. You may want to try cutting down the amount of time the family spends in front of the television and expose your kids to a wide range of physical activities until they find some that they really enjoy. And let’s not forget the value of a healthy work-play balance in our lives. As you make time for friends, hobbies, and personal growth, you’re teaching your children valuable social skills that will see them happily through the years ahead.
If you’ve ever been on an airplane, you know that you’re asked to put on your own oxygen mask in an emergency before assisting others. Why? It’s not possible to help someone else if you’re not breathing! Keep this in mind the next time you consider skipping or putting off your own healthcare needs. You matter! We need you around to keep making this world a better place.