Women’s Health Week: Healthy Eating and Physical Activity

To maintain a healthy lifestyle and continually improve well-being, two key pieces of Women’s Health Week to focus on are healthy eating and physical activity.

What exactly does healthy eating mean for women, though? In the simplest terms, healthy eating is a way of eating that improves your health and prevents disease. This can look slightly different for everyone but places a focus on fruits and vegetables, making half your grains whole grains, and consuming lean protein and dairy. Paying attention to what you drink is also very important for your health. You should limit drinks with added sugar and focus on drinks that hydrate you, such as water. For tips on building a healthy eating pattern, MyPlate and Rethink Your Drink are both great options.

During specific stages in a woman’s lifespan, nutrient needs vary and include:

  • Folate. During childbearing years, consume 400 micrograms per day of folate, a critical vitamin, to prevent birth defects in the brain and spine.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D. Throughout your life, but especially after menopause, consume an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D to decrease your risk for osteoporosis.

Physical activity is an important part of your well-being and can have instant and long-term health benefits to improve your quality of life. More than 60% of U.S. women do not engage in the recommended amount of physical activity and more than 25% of U.S. women are not active at all.

Regular physical activity can help:

  • Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Reduce the risk of dying from coronary heart disease and developing high blood pressure, colon cancer and diabetes
  • Maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints
  • Reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as foster improvements in mood and feelings of well-being
  • Improve sleep

The Physical Activity Guidelines suggest that each week, women should get at least:

  • *2.5 hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity
  • Two or more days of muscle-strengthening activity

*If you are new to physical activity, gradually increase the time you exercise over a few months to reach 150 minutes per week. 

Making healthy lifestyle choices will reduce the risk of chronic diseases as you move through your lifespan. Social support from family and friends has been consistently and positively related to regular physical activity. It’s essential to build a healthy relationship with food and remember there are no “bad” foods. Everything in moderation will make for a well-rounded lifestyle.