This Women’s Day, pledge to start looking after your own health. Many women do not make their own health a priority… They fall into the habit of taking care of others’ health and wellness needs before they take care of their own. But make your own healthcare a top priority, and you will be around and able to take care of others too.

Here are some health tips that can help you increase your chances of better health throughout your life:

1. Manage your stress:
Many women have too much on their plates and want to juggle it all. Stress can have significant health consequences, from infertility to higher risks of depression, anxiety, and heart disease. Find the stress-reduction method that works for you and stick with it. Whether it is walking, yoga, reading… Find your happy place and visit it often.

2. Stop yoyo dieting:
Stop the crash diet and overindulgence see-saw. Find a good healthy diet that prioritizes healthy lifestyle guidelines (TLC-Program) and follow through with it. The correct Program will provide you with lifestyle guidelines to maintain a healthy weight after your weight loss is achieved.
Keep in mind:
-Women of childbearing age need foods with folic acid (like leafy green vegetables and citrus fruits) to help prevent birth defects.
-For women who have gone through menopause, it’s recommended that you increase your intake of foods with calcium and Vitamin D (such as seafood, fruit, low-fat dairy, and egg yolks) in order to prevent bone disease.

3. Don’t go overboard on calcium:
We keep hearing we have to increase our calcium intake. But watch out for too much. Too much absorbed calcium can increase the risk of kidney stones and may even increase the risk of heart disease. If you’re under 50, shoot for 1,000 milligrams per day, while over-50 women should be getting 1,200 milligrams per day.

4. Exercise to feel and look good:
Even if you only have time for 20 minutes of exercise a day, regular activity benefits your heart, and helps manage your weight and your stress levels.
Do a mix of cardio and resistance or weight-bearing exercise at least three to five times a week to help prevent osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Exercise also promotes good self-image, which is really important to a woman’s mental health.
And the good news? It is never too late to start! Even if you’re past 50 and don’t have much of a history of physical fitness, you can start slowly and work up to a regular routine of exercise that helps you improve your overall health.

5. Avoid tobacco smoke:
Stop smoking and avoid 2nd hand smoke. Doing so will greatly reduce your chances of developing lung and heart disease. Smoking is also a killer for your fertility. Women who smoke lose their eggs faster than women who don’t.

6. Be Sun-smart:
Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. When you do have to be outside, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher. Also wear a hat if you are in the sun for extended periods, your scalp is also vulnerable. To reduce your risk of skin cancer…. Do a skin check once a month when you’re getting out of the shower. While you put on your moisturizer, look for any striking, dark or changing spots or moles.

7. Think about fertility:
While many women have no problem getting pregnant in their late 30s and even into their early 40s, a woman’s fertility may start to decline as early as 32. So if you want to have kids, talk to your doctor about options, like freezing your eggs.

8. Appreciate birth control:
Birth control has more benefits than just preventing an unwanted pregnancy. Studies show it can lower the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer as well as regulate your cycle. It can also help control acne breakouts.

9. Don’t forget your health check-ups:
See your doctor every year.
This habit can increase the chances of early detection of disease or chronic conditions, which in turn increases your chances of doing something about any health problems you develop. Over and above regular cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure checks, make sure to have these tests:
-Pap test to check for cervical cancer every 3 years if you are 21 or older. If you are 30-65, you can get both a Pap test and HPV test every 5 years. Older than that, you may be able to stop testing if your doctor says you are low risk. – If you are sexually active and have a higher risk for STDs, get tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis yearly.
-Take an HIV test at least once, more frequently if you’re at risk. .
-Mammogram: annual screening is recommended from age 45, unless you have a family history or other risk factors which requires earlier screening.
-Bone density: Women should get a bone scan at age 65. Younger women should consider the test if they have risk factors for serious bone loss.
-Colon cancer screening. Women should have a colon cancer screening test starting at age 50.

10. Get more sleep.
Besides fighting the signs of aging, regular sleep promotes mental alertness and helps keep your stress levels in check.
Sleep deprivation can put you at greater risk of heart disease and psychological problems.

11. Consider genetic testing:
Doctors can now screen people with a family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and chronic diseases to assess their risk and then consider preventive measures. Talk to your doctor.

A woman’s health needs change as she ages, but the basics of women’s health remain the same. If you follow these simple healthy living tips, you will improve your quality of life for years to come.
Make your health a priority.