Exercise is one of the most powerful things that you can use in your day-to-day life to improve your cardiovascular health, manage your weight, strengthen your bones, reduce stress, and possibly even prevent certain types of cancer. I tell all of my patients that exercise is truly like medicine for your body and for your mind. The ultimate exercise goal is to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (i.e. brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity (i.e. jogging or running) per week, in addition to muscle-strengthening activities on 2 days out of the week. This might sound intimidating at first, but the good news is that you can spread out this time over the week in a way that is most convenient for your schedule. Even exercising just 10 minutes at a time is beneficial. You can also get creative – brisk walking and jogging aren’t the only ways to exercise. Anything that gets your body moving counts as exercise, so find something that makes you happy – anything from aerial yoga to zumba – and roll with it!
New Years is always the time of year when trendy crash or fad diets start to surge in popularity. These are never the most effective or sustainable options and are often times flat-out unhealthy. When it comes to your diet, small changes over time can make a big difference. One of the simplest ways to modify your diet and improve your health is to focus on increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables. It is well-known that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Another strategy for the New Year is to cook at home more and eat out less. That way, you have control over portion size and also all of the ingredients (including salt, oils, butter, etc.) involved in preparing your meal. For further dietary guidance and support, you can always schedule an appointment with one of our nutritionists at RWWC.
Alcohol is everywhere in our culture, and drinking is encouraged on many levels. We are constantly bombarded with promotional messaging about alcohol and it can be easy to get caught up in drinking habits that might, in actuality, be harmful to your health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define “heavy drinking” for women as 8 drinks or more per week. One drink is defined as either 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard alcohol. “Binge drinking” for women is defined as having more than 3 drinks on one occasion. Heavy drinking has many short-term and long-term consequences for women, and in many cases these consequences are more pronounced than they are in men. These include increased risk for alcohol-related liver disease, memory loss and shrinkage of the brain, osteoporosis, and breast cancer. There are, however, beneficial effects of certain types of alcohol that are well-documented, such as improvement in cholesterol and cardiovascular health – the key here is moderation.
It should be no surprise to anyone that smoking is extremely harmful to your health and will shorten your life. Any degree of tobacco use, whether it’s smoking a pack per day or social smoking, has serious consequences. Many are aware of the risks of lung and head/neck cancers caused by smoking, but some may not know that smoking damages many other organ systems. For example, smoking is the single most common preventable risk factor for bladder and kidney cancer, which are highly aggressive malignancies with few available treatment options. Toxic carcinogens inhaled during smoking do not only contact the upper airway and lung tissue, they are also absorbed into the blood stream and penetrate into virtually every organ. The kidney and bladder are particularly susceptible to damage from smoking because these toxins are concentrated in the urine and literally bathe the kidneys and bladder before they are excreted in the urine. Even if they are discovered early, often radical and disfiguring surgeries are required to control cancers of the genitourinary tract. With regards to women’s health in particular, cigarette smoking increases the risk of HPV-related cancers of the cervix and vulva and also increases the risk for recurrent vaginitis, especially bacterial vaginosis (also known as BV). If you smoke, quitting is the #1 best thing that you could do for yourself. We are here to help you if you are ready to quit smoking, so please do not hesitate to discuss this with your healthcare provider at your next visit.
If you have not had an annual wellness visit or gynecologic exam in some time, please be sure to put this on your to-do list for 2018. Even if you feel healthy and have not had any changes to your health in the last several years, there are likely to be preventive health measures that you might be missing out on. We can help to make sure you are up-to-date with your immunizations, cancer screenings, and routine bloodwork so that you stay as healthy as possible in the years to come.