Just 30 minutes three to five times a week is all it takes to achieve the health benefits of exercise. If you don't think you have enough time for exercise, remember that any amount of exercise is better than no exercise. Once you establish an exercise routine, you will probably find yourself feeling so energized that you will be exercising more than the minimum amount of time required for good health.
7. What do you eat? Are you a fast food junkie? Or do you eat a healthy diet that meets the daily nutritional requirements set by the USDA? A healthy diet is one that includes a variety of foods. You must balance the amount of food that you eat with the amount of activity you do to maintain or improve your weight. Be sure to choose a diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains. Choose foods that are low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Monitor the amount of salt and sodium in your foods. Eat foods that contain moderate amounts of sugars. Make sure you eat properly proportioned servings; for example, a serving of most types of meat is equal to the size of a deck of cards. Limit your consumption of fast foods, and make healthy choices when you must eat these foods.
8. Do you smoke? If you do quit! If you don't, don't start! Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in this country, yet more than 140,000 women die each from smoking-related causes. Smoking increases the risk for many types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, early menopause, menstrual problems, and can play a role in fertility problems.
Pregnant women who smoke put their fetuses at risk for pre-term labor, low birth weight, premature rupture of the membranes, placenta previa, miscarriage, and neonatal death. Their babies must endure nicotine withdrawal during the first few days of life and these children experience more earaches, respiratory problems, and other illnesses that require visits to the pediatrician.
9. Limit your consumption of alcohol. According to About Alcoholism Guide Buddy T, "The effects of alcohol on the liver are more severe for women than for men. Women develop alcoholic liver disease, particularly alcoholic cirrhosis and hepatitis, after a shorter period of time than men. Proportionately more alcoholic women die from cirrhosis than do alcoholic men." Alcohol has other effects on women's health including an increased risk of breast cancer, and menstrual disorders that can lead to fertility problems.
10. Practice safe sex. Unless you are in a long-term monogamous relationship, always use a condom during sexual intercourse. You can buy condoms that are made for men or for women -- just don't try using a male condom and a female condom at the same time. Birth control pills and other methods of contraception do not offer any protection against HIV/AIDS or any other sexually transmitted disease or infection.
11. Don't forget to buckle up every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle. Seat belts save over 9,500 lives every year. Wearing a seat belt increases your chance of surviving an accident by forty-five percent. Observe all traffic laws when driving. Never drive when drinking, or ride with a driver who has been drinking alcohol.
The Pap Test. ACOG Education Pamphlet AP085. http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp085.cfm. Accesed 08/20/2009.
It's Time to Quit Smoking. ACOG Education Pamphlet AP065. http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp065.cfm. Accesed 08/20/2009.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases. CDC. http://www.cdc.gov/std/. Accessed 08/20/2009.