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Lifetime Health Tips for Women

young fitness woman runner  running

As women age, their health needs change. Staying active and tailoring food intake to keep up with your changing body can help minimize unwanted weight gain and energy loss and possibly keep chronic diseases in check.

Follow these helpful tips for women’s wellness in each stage of adulthood.

Early 20s

Lower your chances of getting osteoporosis later by consuming more calcium now. Keep your bones strong by eating two to three servings of calcium-rich foods each day. Great choices are nonfat or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. One serving of milk or yogurt is 8 ounces or 1 cup; one serving of cheese is 1½ ounces.

Late 20s

One of the most important things women can do at this stage is to consume the recommended daily 400 micrograms of folate or folic acid, especially if you are planning a pregnancy. Folic acid is an essential B vitamin that protects babies in the womb from serious birth defects. Good sources of folate include green, leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, folic acid-fortified bread and cereal, and supplements.

Your 30s

A woman’s metabolism slows between 2 and 8 percent every decade, which means a 35-year-old woman needs 100 fewer calories a day than she did 10 years ago. To keep your weight steady, you will need to exercise more and eat less. It is important to remember that although you need to reduce your food intake, your body still needs nutrients. So, you may need to examine your diet and cut back on empty calories (soda, fast foods, fatty snacks) and eat more nutritious foods (fruits, vegetables and whole grains).

Your 40s and Beyond

As women age, muscle mass slowly begins to deteriorate and is replaced with fat. The best way to prevent age-related muscle loss is to make strength training and weight-bearing exercise a priority. Experts recommend that women over 40 do strength training exercises, including weight or resistance training, at least twice a week, and weight bearing aerobic exercises, including swimming, walking, and dancing, at least five times a week.

One of the best things for women’s health

At any age, exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. The key to staying active is finding something you enjoy that fits into your daily schedule. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do – inline skating, running, walking, dancing, household chores, or gardening – as long as you do it regularly.

Experts recommend that you do 30 minutes or more of physical activity a day, at least five times a week. The benefits of exercise are manifold. Exercise promotes weight control, improves your strength and flexibility, lowers your risk of heart disease, helps control blood pressure and diabetes, relieves stress, and improves your mood and the way you feel about yourself.  And what woman wouldn’t like more of that?

When Medications & Sunshine Don’t Mix

sunsafety

One of the most common side effects of medications is an increased risk of photosensitivity, or sensitivity to sunlight. This is caused when Ultraviolet (UV) light rays activate certain photosensitizing elements within the medication. These elements then emit energy that can damage adjacent skin tissue.

People experiencing photosensitivity due to medications generally experience a burning and stinging sensation to the skin followed by intensified redness. The range of damage on sun-exposed skin can range from a slight redness to a blistering rash.

If you are taking a medication that states photosensitivity as a potential side effect, be sure to avoid direct exposure from natural sunlight as well as tanning beds. Wear sun-protective clothing when going outdoors and use a UV-A and UV-B combination sunscreen with at least SPF 15.

There are many common prescriptions that cause photosensitivity. Some of the most common medications include:

  • Antibiotics such as Tetracyclines or Sulfonamides
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen and Naproxen
  • Antidepressants including citalopram, bupropion and fluoxetine
  • Blood pressure lowering medications such as Lisinopril, labetolol, hydralazine and other diuretics
  • Medications designed to lower blood sugar including glimepiride, glyburide and glipizide
  • Anti-fungals such as ketoconazole and griseofulvin
  • Medications used for sleep, seizures and mental health including alprazolam, quetiapine, zolpidem and gabapentin
  • Dietary supplements such as St. John’s wort and Vitamin A
  • Many more groups including cholesterol lowing medications and estrogens

Whenever you are taking a prescribed medication, be sure to pay attention to potential side effects.

If a mild reaction occurs, topical remedies such as cool wet dressings, anti-itch creams and corticosteroid creams can help. If symptoms continue, be sure to check in with your prescribing physician.

Water Safety in Wisconsin

water safety

As a Wisconsinite, summer months can mean everything to you. Long winters and cold springs drive us to water parks, lakes and rivers when warmer weather hits. Unfortunately this makes summer a high time for water accidents, injuries and fatalities.

The latest research shows the number of drowning deaths is falling, but not for all age groups. Learn how you can help protect yourself, family and friends this season with these safe, responsible water safety tips and resources.

Pool Safety Tips

Having a pool or hot tub in the backyard increases the risk for water injuries and drowning. If you or someone you know has a pool, follow these tips:

  • Install a four-foot fence with a self-latching gate around the pool.
  • Add pool, door or gate alarms and an automatic pool cover.
  • Remove ladders, steps and toys when the pool is not in use.
  • Empty blow-up pools after each use and put them away.
  • Be no more than an arm’s length away from a child in the pool.
  • Wear a life jacket, especially little ones and inexperienced swimmers.
  • Take additional swimming lessons, even as an adult.
  • Learn first aid and CPR.
  • Keep a phone near the pool for emergency use.
  • Maintain the pool and chemicals to keep the pool clean and safe.
  • Keep electrical appliances away from the pool to prevent electric shock.
  • Create and enforce rules for the pool, such as no diving, no running, only swimming with a buddy and staying away from the drain.

Water Safety Tips for All Ages

Drowning isn’t just a safety issue for children. It can happen to anyone at any age. Help keep drowning deaths down by following these steps:

  • Learn how to swim.
  • Swim with a buddy.
  • Avoid places without a lifeguard on duty.
  • Teach children to ask first about entering the water.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol while swimming.
  • Adhere to beach swimming regulations, warnings and conditions.
  • Avoid bodies of water that are choppy, rough or filled with debris.
  • Always wear an appropriate-sized life jacket when boating.

In Case of an Emergency…

Even when you try to stay safe in and around water, drowning can still happen, and quickly. In case of an emergency, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the person from the water right away and check if he or she is breathing.
  2. If the person isn’t breathing, begin CPR immediately. Don’t waste time seeking emergency medical help. If others are present, ask them to call 911. The victim may spit up swallowed water while you are doing CPR.
  3. Continue CPR until the person starts breathing again or medical personnel arrive.

8 Tips to Get More Exercise on the Job

exercise ball

Find yourself stuck to a chair all day? Inactivity can lead to headaches, back aches and brain drain.

If your job requires long hours of sitting, try these 8 tips for adding a boost of fitness to your day:

  1. Set an alarm every hour reminding you to get up and move around. Just standing up, stretching and waving your arms will help you feel more alert.
  2. Sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair. They’re great for toning the abs and improving posture.
  3. Use the restroom on a different floor or across the building. Extra steps add up.
  4. Deliver documents in person instead of by inter-office mail.
  5. Lift dumbbells while on the phone. Water bottles or soup cans work just as well.
  6. Going out for lunch? Choose a restaurant within walking distance, or go to the mall food court and park furthest from the door.
  7. Walking clubs aren’t just for lunch hours. Why not arrive 20 minutes early and start the day with a brisk stroll?
  8. Suggest standing or walking meetings.

Be creative! Any extra movement is a bonus.

8 Ways to Avoid Common Self-Care Mistakes

flu season vaccine

Treating common illnesses at home isn’t complicated. Even so, doing it safely requires knowledge.

You don’t want to call your doctor over every little fever or sniffle. But when you’re calling the shots, you want to be confident you’re making wise health care decisions.

Here are steps to take to avoid some common self-care mistakes:

Watch the Dose

Don’t take more medication than the label recommends. Some people think if one dose of medication is good for them, then two must be even better. But the dosage recommendations on the package are there to protect you.

For example, too much ibuprofen over time can cause gastrointestinal bleeding or ulcers. Too much acetaminophen can cause liver damage. Overdosing on some over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medications may cause extreme drowsiness or seizures.

Treat the Cause

Don’t treat symptoms without treating their cause. One danger of self-treating with OTC drugs is you may confuse symptom relief with a cure—meaning your underlying health problem may continue or worsen even as you start feeling better.

A better approach? Get the advice of your pharmacist or doctor.

Call Your Doctor

Don’t treat too long before calling your doctor. You don’t always save money by not seeing the doctor. Often the reverse is true—a doctor visit could save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in medical costs if it keeps a small problem from becoming a big one.

For example, if you don’t start taking antibiotics right away for that urinary tract infection, what began as a minor condition could evolve into a full-blown kidney infection that requires stronger, more expensive antibiotics or even hospitalization.

Don’t Borrow Meds

Don’t use someone else’s prescription medications. It’s common for people to give friends or family members their medications to try. But that’s not safe for several reasons.

For starters, some drugs require a prescription because they may not be safe for everyone, may need special monitoring, and may interact with other medications. A physician prescribes medications based on a physical examination, test results, health history and knowledge of other drugs a person is taking. That’s why a drug that’s beneficial for one person could be harmful for another.

Don’t Keep the Leftovers

Don’t use leftover prescription medications. Suppose you have medication left over from a previous illness and then you develop similar symptoms. Does it make sense to take the leftover medication? Not necessarily. Your symptoms may be the same but the condition — and its appropriate treatment — may be different.

Caution on Herbal Remedies

Don’t take herbal or other alternative medicines without telling your doctor. Most people don’t realize herbal remedies are drugs and need to be taken cautiously. Some of them can raise blood pressure, thin the blood or interact with other medications you may be taking.

For this reason, be sure to get your doctor’s OK before taking them; and when your doctor prescribes a medication, always speak up about any alternative treatments you use.

Follow Your Doctor’s Advice

Don’t substitute the advice of friends or family for a doctor’s expertise. An old family remedy for a stomachache or arthritis may be helpful, or at worst, do you no harm. But it’s always wise to ask your doctor for a professional opinion, particularly if the treatment could be risky or your condition could be serious.

Look for Good Information

Don’t consult just any health book or Internet site. If a book or website promises a magical cure, or makes outspoken claims against the conventional medical approach, that’s a good clue to be wary of its advice.
Also, some Internet sites are sponsored by companies that are more interested in selling their products than in serving your best interests. When in doubt, ask your doctor to recommend the best source of information for your needs.

When to Call the Doctor

How do you know when it’s time to stop self-treating a health problem and get on the phone to your doctor? An important clue: Are you getting better, or is the problem lingering or getting worse?

These are examples of when to call:

  • A cough that persists
  • A headache that won’t go away or that keeps coming back
  • Heartburn that keeps returning
  • Fever that lasts more than a few days

If you need a primary care physician, we can help! Search online for a doctor who’s right for you and your family in Ministry and Affinity.

Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

The Affinity Health System blog contains opinions and views created by community members. Affinity does endorse the contributions of community members. You should not assume the information posted by community members is accurate and you should never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this site.