|Mom's checklist||May. 11, 2008|
|Provided by: Sun Media|
|Written by: MARILYN LINTON|
|Stop smoking, do a breast examination, exercise, sleep|
That old saying -- that God couldn't be everywhere, so He created mothers -- is in our hearts especially today.
We want our mothers to be there for us, and as mothers we want to stick around as long as possible.
Today, we welcome candy, flowers, spa packages, dinners out, and kisses galore, but the best gift of all -- the gift of health -- cannot be baked or bought.
Since good health is about more than good genes and luck, here are some simple paths to wellness that moms can take for themselves:
- Really stop smoking. Even if you try a hundred times, try again.
There are gender differences in this disease that are not entirely understood, and women with the disease report more anxiety, depression and shortness of breath than do men with COPD.
Check out the American Lung Association's online Freedom From Smoking program at lungusa.org or call The Canadian Cancer Society's quit smoking helpline at 1-877-513-5333.
- Get to know your breasts. Breast self-examination should never be a "search and destroy" type of mission, but only you can recognize subtle breast changes that could indicate disease.
A lump should always be investigated, no matter what your doctor says: Lumps are never "nothing."
Older women should have annual mammograms, as well as a clinical breast exam.
For more on breast health, visit Women's College Hospital's website at womenshealthmatters.ca.
- Exercise daily. You needn't run a marathon to become fit.
Walking briskly even 30 minutes a day will help to keep your bones strong, reduce breast cancer risk, control your weight and tune your cardiovascular system.
Register with Chatelaine Magazine's free online walking club at chatelaine.com and you'll be pounding the pavement in no time.
Find the 7 Keys to Staying Fit on Canadian Living Magazine's website. Its health section at canadianliving.com is packed full of exercise ideas and articles on fitness -- physical and spiritual.
Healthy recipes are a bonus thanks to Canadian Living's terrific cooks, who include Sun columnist Elizabeth Baird.
- Know your numbers. You probably pay more attention to lottery numbers than you do the crucial numbers that indicate the state of your health.
They include the circumference of your waist (women in the general population should have a waist measurement under 88 cm or 35 inches; women who are Asian should have a waist that measures less than 80 cm or 32 inches); your blood pressure (normal is below 120/80 mm Hg); your lipid levels, your weight and your BMI.
Keeping these numbers where they should be will protect against heart disease and diabetes.
For more on winning numbers, go to heartandstroke.on.ca and hearthealthy women.org -- an American site sponsored in part by the Cardiovascular Research Foundation.
- Get a good night's sleep. Not only are women twice as likely as men to report sleep problems, but women who are poor sleepers apparently suffer more damage to our hearts, and are more likely than men to suffer greater psychological distress from a lack of good sleep.
Chronic insomnia is common around menopause, and sleep apnea is underdiagnosed in women.
If meditation and relaxation techniques don't help, you might try a sleep clinic.
For more on women and sleep, go to cwhn.ca or sleepfoundation.org.
- Build your own women's health resource library.
Start by checking such sites as ourbodiesourselves.org, the website of the famous Boston Women's Health Book Collective who authored the original Our Bodies book decades ago, then move on to webmd.com, an online information link for consumers and doctors.
Don't forget to visit hospital sites, such as the Mayo Clinic at mayoclinic.com and specialty sites such as menopause.org, the address of the North American Menopause Society, devoted to research and promoting women's health as they age.
There's osteoporosis.ca, which informs women on the bone-thinning disease, its symptoms, treatments, and prevention (it even includes a calcium calculator).
Finally, subscribe to Best Health, a weighty new magazine published six times a year by Reader's Digest; check it out at besthealthmag.ca.
|MORE COLUMNS BY MARILYN LINTON|