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Each year, National Women’s Health Week kicks off on Mother’s Day as a reminder for women to make their health a priority and build positive health habits for life. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health leads National Women’s Health Week to encourage all women to be as healthy as possible. Although all college students have the potential to face health issues, women are often at higher risk of certain physical and mental health concerns, such as depression, migraines and thyroid conditions. Fortunately, most colleges provide a robust series of health offerings, many of which are specific to women in college, such as STI/STD treatment and screening, pregnancy testing and pap smears.
Every woman’s approach to better health is different, but the key is to understand your health goals, motivation and what’s holding you back from being the healthiest you.
To improve your physical and mental health, the CDC recommends these habits:
1. Practice healthy behaviors.
Even in college, women should stay up-to-date on cancer screening tests. Also, be sure to protect your skin from the sun when at outdoor events. It’s easy for sleep habits to worsen during college, especially during midterms and final exams. However, all adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night as part of maintaining overall health.
2. Take ownership of your mental health.
Keep your mind and body healthy with positive mental health, which is associated with improved overall health. Take note of the resources available on campus to support mental health, and get engaged with student groups to create connections. A recent CDC study says that, 1 out of 100 women in the U.S. experience symptoms of depression. Without connections, it’s easy to feel isolated. If you’re struggling, recognize when it’s time to reach out and find support.
3. Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
A healthy, well-balanced diet includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk and other dairy products, and lean meats. Additionally, healthy diets are low in salt, saturated/trans fats and added sugars. It may be tempting to eat fast food to save time, but you’ll thank yourself later if you find the opportunities to eat healthy on campus. Also, avoid drinking alcohol excessively, which can increase the risk of many harmful health conditions and lead to the development of chronic diseases. It’s important to know your limits and understand the risks of excessive alcohol use.
4. Make time for movement.
Adult females need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of aerobic physical activity that requires moderate effort. Physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. If you’re off-campus or your campus has limited fitness or activity options, utilize free online videos or apps to exercise at home or in your dorm.
5. Prioritize recommended screenings and preventive care.
Preventive care can keep diseases away or detect problems early, which is when treatment is often more effective. Many health insurance plans offer no-cost, preventative services for women. If your campus has healthcare services, talk to the on-site medical provider to see what services are available and find local referrals if necessary. Before your appointment, make sure to review your family history and write down any questions or issues you may have. And bring these notes and questions with you to share with the medical provider.
To participate in National Women’s Health Week, the Office on Women’s Health invites women of all ages across the country to try these helpful ideas:
- Turn on your favorite music and dance, dance, dance!
- Organize a virtual party with your friends via an online platform to cook a healthy meal or snack together.
- Use the organization’s online tool to get customized tips for incorporating healthy eating and physical activity into your life.
- Use your social media to promote activities throughout the week by using the hashtags #NWHW and #FindYourHealth. Also, you can use the hashtag #TimelyMD to share your activities with us. Sharing your activities online can help provide insight for family and friends to encourage them to take the next step on their personal health journey.
Keep in mind that non-essential procedures and tests are postponed for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19. TimelyMD’s Campus.Health program is an immediate telehealth solution that enables medical and mental telehealth for students, and can be launched for your campus within 24 hours. If your campus is in need of immediate support, please contact us today.