By Dr. Virginia Reed, Southwest Florida regional director for FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers
TV shows and movies often feature “super women” who can flawlessly handle all of life’s challenges.
The pressures of work and family responsibilities are no obstacles for characters like Lois Lane, Murphy Brown, Carol Brady and Clair Huxtable.
Viewers cannot help but be impressed with these strong female leads. However, we rarely see how these “super women” are helping themselves.
May is Women’s Health Month, an annual reminder for women – even “super women” – to prioritize their own health and wellness.
Finding a little “me time” can be difficult, but it’s essential. Below are four ways women can balance their health and wellness with careers, family and other life responsibilities:
Commit to an Exercise Routine
Any exercise routine, whether it’s informal or under the supervision of a medical professional, should include three components:
- Strength training: Resistance training using weights, bands or heavy objects to enhance muscle function.
- Endurance training: Long-duration aerobic exercises that strengthen the cardiovascular system.
- Flexibility: Stretching to improve range of motion and strengthen muscles and joints.
The vision of the physical therapy profession is to transform society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience. This positions physical therapists squarely at the epicenter of advising people on how best to initiate and maintain healthy exercise habits. This is especially true for individuals who have underlining medical conditions or a history of injuries.
Follow a Nutritious Diet
Food is the fuel that powers our bodies, so premium fuel results in premium health. Much like athletes that are hyper-focused on their diets, women must prioritize nutrition to maximize their performance as well.
MyPlate, formerly known as the USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid, contains five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy. Physicians recommend these as the core of any diet.
Some individuals cannot tolerate dairy, gluten or other foods, but luckily, a variety of alternatives are available. Consulting a licensed dietary nutritionist, especially as we age, will help address food-related topics, including meal planning, weight management, healthy cooking, food allergies, diabetes consulting, sports nutrition and digestive concerns.
Lead a Healthy Lifestyle
The American Heart Association lists four simple areas of focus to enhance your lifestyle: mental health and well-being, sleep, stress management and quit smoking.
Women are always on the go. Yet, it’s important to pause every once in a while. A few minutes of deep breathing increases oxygen levels in the blood, which increases energy levels, boosts immunity and reduces blood pressure. Oxygen is also proven to improve stress management, reduce anxiety and clear the mind.
Schedule Doctor Appointments
Insurance companies often cover the cost of annual visits to primary care physicians and dentists. In fact, they encourage those visits because early detection and prevention are keys to good health.
All doctors are devoted to improving our health and wellness. So which ones should you visit regularly? These five types of doctors should be part of every woman’s health care routine:
- Primary care physician: general health, illnesses and injuries
- OB-GYN: reproductive health, menopause and women’s health
- Radiologist: annual mammograms for women starting at age 45, or earlier if they have a family history of breast cancer
- Dermatologist: skin care
- Optometrist or ophthalmologist: eye care and eye diseases
Physical therapists are not always listed among the suggested visits, but the role of a physical therapist has evolved over the past decade. The American Physical Therapy Association notes that PTs examine patients and develop treatment plans to improve their ability to move, reduce or manage pain, restore function and prevent disability.
Physical therapists are known predominantly for helping patients recover after injuries. They also treat patients with chronic conditions like arthritis, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, overuse injuries and muscle weakness.
Women’s bodies change after giving birth. Physical therapists address the musculoskeletal components of pregnancy and postpartum issues, including incontinence, pelvic floor muscle dysfunction and prenatal joint or muscle disfunction.
“Super women” can handle everything thrown their way, but they must make it a priority to strike the right balance between careers, families, life and personal health.
About the Author
Dr. Virginia Reed is a physical therapist and Southwest Florida regional director for FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers, which has more than 400 locations in 45 states. For more information, please visit fyzical.com.