National Women’s Health and Fitness Day, observed on the last Wednesday of September each year, is a great time for women to take stock of their lifestyle choices. This Sept. 28, women across the U.S. are encouraged to motivate themselves to practice healthy habits to live a good lifestyle. Living healthy is not just about good eating habits and regular exercise for women. It’s also about preventative healthcare, early disease detection, and a greater understanding of each woman’s unique health challenges.
“This is a date that highlights the importance of exercise and health awareness for women of all sizes, shapes, ages, and attitudes,” said Michelle Leachman of the American Council on Exercise.
This year, up to 75,000 women are expected to participate in National Women’s Health and Fitness Day by doing things like working out with friends, drinking more water, checking mental health, scheduling a routine doctor’s appointment, or exploring a brand new fitness activity. The national day is a celebration for all women and an important reminder that women’s health differs from men’s. At each stage of a woman’s life, essential health care steps can detect significant health issues like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease to mitigate or even stop their debilitating effects.
It’s often difficult for women to get the healthcare they need. This gender gap in medical services is worse in developing countries but is of significant concern even in the U.S., where nearly 13 million women and girls have no health insurance. There are many specific diseases — everything from urinary tract infections and reproductive issues to breast cancer — related to being female that present significant challenges in prevention and getting the care needed.
For many, personal health is affected by genetics and social conditions such as employment, family, and poverty. There is also a public perception that diseases such as heart disease are more of a “male” problem when, in fact, heart disease is the number one cause of death for women worldwide. More women also have strokes than men, are more susceptible to diabetes-related problems, and are more likely to suffer depression.
The good news is that regular exercise makes a huge difference in mental and physical health, even more so for women than men.
Thanks to a combination of hormones and health risks, physical activity has more benefits for women than men, including lowering blood pressure, preventing diabetes (a contributor to heart disease), improving mental health and cognitive function, and reducing cholesterol.
Overall, exercise reduces the risk of mortality. What is the moral of the story? Move more and live longer and healthier!
Sept. 28 is a great time to look at your own lifestyle choices. Are you putting off that mammogram? Go ahead and schedule it. Are you only making it to the gym once or twice a month? Commit to twice a week. Never tried hiking? Call a friend and plan a short hike this weekend. Are you feeling anxious? Reach out to a mental health care provider. National Women’s Health and Fitness Day is a wonderful time to reflect on good and bad choices and how to move forward positively to live a happier, more active life.