American women spend more time taking care of their families, homes and jobs than themselves. With so much time invested in caring for others, women can overlook the importance of their own health. Yet, neglecting their own health needs can make it much harder for women to also take care of those they love.
Women who consider themselves generally in good health and who are very busy may be less inclined to stay on schedule with important health checks. If putting off a doctor’s visit doesn’t seem like that big a deal, consider these women’s health statistics:
• A full-time working mom spends more than 10 hours a day on household activities, taking care of children and working outside the home, and just 2.3 hours on "me time" of leisure activities or sports, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s American Time Use Survey.
• Fifty-six percent of mothers say it’s "very difficult" to achieve a work-life balance, according to Pew Research.
• More than 14 percent of American women age 18 and older are in fair or poor health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
National Women’s Health Week is May 12 to 18, but taking care of your own health should be a year-round pursuit. Here are four health checks every woman should have, and if it’s been a while (or never) since you had one, schedule a doctor’s visit right away:
• Annual physical – Kids get a checkup every year, and so do senior citizens. You should, too. No matter what your age or relative level of health, it’s important to see your family doctor at least once a year for a complete physical that includes blood pressure screening and a blood test that will check for diabetes, high cholesterol and other problems. This checkup can help your doctor spot any problems, provide you with guidance toward your weight and health goals, and give you peace of mind when everything checks out just fine.
• Skin check – Skin cancer rates have been rising for years, and now one in every five Americans will get skin cancer, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. It’s also one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer, if caught early. In addition to performing regular self-checks, it’s important to have your skin thoroughly checked by a professional, too. Ask your physician to include a skin check as part of your annual physical, or schedule an appointment with a dermatologist.
• Reproductive health –From fertility questions and cancer screenings, to heavy periods and uterine fibroids, women can face many reproductive health issues. It’s important for women of every age to monitor the health of reproductive organs, so be sure to see your gynecologist once a year. He or she can also tell you what tests you should have to monitor your health, such as an annual pap smear or mammogram. Visit "Change the Cycle" to learn more.
• Mental/emotional well-being – Just as you take care of your own physical health and the mental health of your family members, it’s important to take care of your own emotional well-being. There’s nothing wrong with finding some "me-time" for yourself every day. In fact, it’s vital. Numerous studies show that happy, relaxed people are healthier than their stressed, tired, unhappy peers. Whether your mental health regimen includes meditation, a pedicure or 15 minutes with a good book, set aside time each day to do something that makes you relaxed and happy.