As you move into your 30s and 40s, you’re most likely pretty busy juggling work, home and family. Taking care of yourself may seem like just one more thing to add to your already packed to-do list. But being proactive about your health is critical during these years as your risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and breast cancer starts to increase.
Now more than ever it’s important to make time to eat right, exercise regularly, see your doctor for an annual wellness exam and complete any recommended health screenings to stay on track in these hectic years.
Maintain Healthy Habits
While some of these habits might be routine for you, others may have taken a backseat to other priorities. Any positive change you can make today will make a difference for your future health, so review this list of habits to see where you have room for improvement:
- Eat a healthy, well-rounded diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Aim for 30 minutes of daily physical activity
- Try to sleep at least 7-8 hours a night
- Take 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid daily
- Don’t start smoking or look for help quitting if you already do
- Limit alcohol to one drink or less a day
- Don’t use illegal drugs or misuse prescription drugs
- Wear a helmet when riding a bike
- Wear a seatbelt in cars
- Don’t text and drive
- Protect yourself from the sun
- See a dentist twice a year for an exam and cleaning
If you’re struggling with any of these habits, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Your care team at SSM Health is here to support you every step of the way.
Prepare for Perimenopause
Perimenopause is the time leading up to your last period (menopause) when your hormone levels begin to change. This transition can start in your 40s and typically takes several years. This shift in hormones can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. It can also increase your risk of anxiety and depression. While some women hardly notice any symptoms, others will experience hot flashes, weight gain, lower sex drive and fatigue. You may find it’s harder to control your weight during this time, so a healthy diet and regular exercise are especially important. Talk to your doctor about what to expect and how you can manage any symptoms you might have.
Make Time for Regular Wellness Visits
Annual well-woman exams provide you an opportunity to check in on your health and set goals for the year. Because these exams focus on prevention – taking care of your health now to avoid illness later – they are key to your long-term wellness. You may wish to discuss the following topics with your doctor at your annual exam:
- Whether you plan to have children in the next year
- Any perimenopause symptoms you may have
- Your weight, diet, and physical activity level
- Your tobacco and alcohol use
- Any violence in your life
- Any mental health concerns, like depression or anxiety
- Your family health history
To get the most out of your well-woman exams, find an SSM Health provider with whom you feel comfortable asking questions and sharing your concerns. Our women’s health team offers expertise and compassion, so you can be confident that you’re getting the care you deserve. With so many convenient locations, we make this important check-up as easy as possible.
Focus on Prevention
Preventive health care aims to help you maintain your health in the years to come and to catch any problems early, when they’re easier to treat. Talk to your doctor at your annual exam about what immunizations, tests and health screenings you need. These may include:
- Flu vaccine
- Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C
- HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Pap test and HPV
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Breast cancer screening, including mammograms and clinical breast exams
- Blood pressure and cholesterol
You may not need every test or vaccine every year, so talk to your doctor about what’s right for you based on your age, your health history and any symptoms or concerns you may have.
While your priorities may change through the years, taking care of your health should always be your first concern. Schedule an appointment with SSM Health Women’s Health today to get started.