Here’s the ultimate, “no excuses” guide that every African American women can use to improve her health. FamilyDigest.com’s assignment was to get you ways to improve your health in less time than it takes to brush your teeth. (I’m talking about you!) We had medical, nutritional, alternative medicine, psychological and fitness experts give us their quickest, easiest and most effective tips to help Black women live healthier lives. Here we go…
1. Check your breasts monthly for abnormalities in the tissue and on the skin. Do this the week following your period. According to research from Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, tumors in African-American women are more likely to be aggressive and have rapidly dividing cancer cells. Early detection, as well as appropriate and timely treatment, critically influence survival outcomes.
2. Eat a piece of fruit. Regular consumption of fruit has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure & diabetes.
3. Walk to a colleague’s office instead of sending her an e-mail.
4. Always leave some food on your plate. Leaving a few bites of food on your plate at every meal reduces the number of calories consumed. Those missed calories look better on your plate than on your hips.
5. Drink a glass of water before a meal. It will make you feel fuller and help you eat less.
6. If you are 40 or older, make an appointment for an annual mammogram. The Sisters Network, a national organization for African-American breast cancer survivors, recommends women start monthly self-exams at age 20, and schedule a breast exam every two to three years.
7. Do sit-ups for five minutes.
8. Grab some light weights (or two cans of soup) and do 5 minutes of bicep curls.
9. Do 5 minutes worth of push-ups.
10. Park far away from the store you plan to shop in to get in a quick walk.
Take 5 minutes to do something good for yourself. You are worth it!
11. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
12. Don’t finish off food left on your children’s plates.
13. Close your eyes and breathe in through your nose, filling your entire diaphragm with air and exhaling through your mouth. Repeat. By shifting your breathing rate and pattern, you can lower your blood pressure, reduce muscle tension and reduce stress.
14. Drink some skim milk daily. It’s been shown that the Vitamin D from two eight-ounce glasses can help lower blood pressure.
15. Think before you eat. Ask yourself: Are you eating this to nourish your body?
16. Pray. This lowers levels of stress hormones, relaxes the heart, and reduces pain.
17. Wear sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher and a hat outside.
18. Take a five-minute walk around the block or the office.
19. Insist that your partner wear a condom.
20. Ask an older relative about your family’s health history to determine what hereditary diseases or conditions you may be at risk of developing.
21. Lie down, close your eyes, tense your feet, and then relax. Do this all the way up your body, one area at a time, ending with your head. Doing this exercise regularly relieves tension, stress and anxiety and helps you feel good.
22. Call your doctor and make an appointment for your annual physical.
23. Eat eight ounces of yogurt daily if you are predisposed to recurrent vaginal yeast infections. An Annals Internal Medicine study reports a three-fold decrease in yeast infections among participants who did this.
24. Schedule physical activity for the week. Consider these appointments as important as any others on your calendar.
25. Put on some music and dance. Enjoy yourself.