7 Health Resolutions For Black Women
Have more sex
You've always know the feel-good of sex, but studies show that getting frisky has health benefits too. CNN recently quoted a soon-to-be-published article in the Journal of Sexual Medicine outlining the health benefits of sex, which include lowered risk of high blood pressure, breast cancer and heart disease. But let's be clear about one thing, say the journal's researchers, only penile-vaginal intercourse has the health benefits. Sex also boosts your immune system, helps you burn calories and even relieves pain by releasing the hormone oxytocin (a hormone that reduces blood pressure and helps the body relax).
Quit smoking, for real this time
Each year more African Americans die from smoking related diseases than from murders and AIDS, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Even more shocking is that more African American women die from lung cancer than breast cancer, and the number of Black women who smoke after age 40 exceeds that of White women. It takes a lot to stop smoking, understandably, but there are plenty of resources to help you along. Check out smokefree.gov as resource to guide you along the process.
Schedule some "Me" time
Let's state a fact, as Black women we take care of a lot of people, which in turn piles on the stress. The weight of always being a "Strong Black Woman" who's too busy being taking of everybody's needs to recognize she is stressed can have tremendous effects on your health and well-being. It's not uncommon for women who are stressed to suffer from diarrhea, anxiety, colds and, of course, weight gain. Research also shows that stress can lead to heart disease, one of the leading causes of death for Black women, according to the Center for Disease Control. Give yourself time to be off-duty once in a while so you can recharge, and while you're at it, take a moment to reflect on all the issues (and people) you're taking of and set up a list of what's important and what isn't. A decision to take care of yourself first will benefit your health and everyone around you.
Find out your family history
Diseases that particularly affect African Americans, like sickle cell, breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes, more often than not run in the family. Like it or not you inherit your genetic profile from your mom and dad and so knowing the common illnesses affecting your family will not only make you aware of what you could face, it also helps your doctor determine your risk for certain diseases.
Get more sleep
Getting an adequate amount of shut-eye is not only great for a tired mind, it also helps keep your heart healthy and reduces stress--a trigger for illness like high blood pressure and obesity. Also avoid the temptation of trying to fall asleep with the television on because studies show that the bright light from the screen suppresses melatonin (a hormone that helps control sleep cycles), which could explain your sleepless nights. Think of sleep as a time for your body to repair itself and boost your immune system. Getting anywhere for seven to nine hours of sleep is said to help your body release serotonin, a feel-good hormone.
Get health screenings
You may be diligently going for an annual screenings like pap smears and mammograms but it will do you good to finally go for that physical you've been talking about. An annual check up that includes blood work, an eye exam and skin checks can help your doctor detect conditions like high blood pressure, glaucoma, cholesterol and skin cancer. And don't forget to visit your dentist as an oral exam can detect gum disease, and even diabetes and heart disease.
Get more cardio in your workout
Because Black women have a higher risk for heart disease than other women, it's important you get enough cardiovascular exercise in your routine. Strength training and exercises like yoga and pilates are great, but cardio helps get your heart pumping, increases blood circulation ad boosts your metabolism. Remember the heart is a muscle that needs regular activity to perform at optimal level. A moderate walk will not get your heart pumping the way it needs to so up the speed or get to a treadmill for at least 20 minutes or more a day at least four times a week.