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Good habits to avoid getting sick

Well visit. Pap smear. Vision screening. Teeth cleaning. Skin cancer screening.

Most women visit with their primary care doctor, an OB-GYN, a dentist, a dermatologist and perhaps a specialist or two each year for annual screenings and well visits. But a few short doctors’ appointments don’t make a healthy woman. Living your healthiest, happiest life involves doing things every day to take care of yourself.

“Women are often tasked with working full-time, taking care of children and possibly taking care of other loved ones who may be ill or elderly, but they need to take good care of themselves, too,” said Marcel Favetta, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Geisinger. “Creating good habits to eat healthy, lower stress, exercise and generally take good care of yourself can help you avoid more frequent trips to the doctor and even chronic conditions.”

Here are five things women should do to stay well all year. 

Exercise 
Running, biking, taking a brisk walk or lifting at the gym can not only lower your stress and send endorphins coursing through your body, it could also help you maintain a healthy weight and ward off type 2 diabetes, some cancers and heart disease

Try to get the recommended 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking your car farther from store entrances, hitting the gym before or after work, or even lifting light weights while you relax and watch TV at night. 

Relieve stress
Your go-go lifestyle might make you feel stressed on a daily basis—and that could hurt your health. When you don’t manage stress well, you put yourself at risk for headaches, fatigue, sleep problems and muscle tension. It might even cause you to overeat or withdraw from your family and friends. Left unchecked, stress could contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity.

“Taking a few minutes to breathe deeply every day can help you manage stress that comes from your family, your job and anything else that’s contributing to your hectic lifestyle,” said Dr. Favetta. 

Listen to your body
You know your body better than anyone else, and it’s your job to be your biggest health advocate. That means knowing when to slow down and knowing when to see a doctor. 

“Whether it’s aches and pains that are related to stress or something like a lump in your breast or a continual pain in your stomach, make the time to get it checked out. Your body may be telling you that something is seriously wrong,” said Dr. Favetta. 

Get more sleep
If you’re like more than one-third of American adults, you’re not getting enough sleep. “Sleep is a critical component to your health because your body repairs itself during this time,” said Dr. Favetta. “Though it varies from person to person, most adults should get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.”

A lack of sleep can make it harder to focus and remember; chronic sleep deprivation could contribute to high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and heart failure. 

To get a good night’s rest, go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day (even on weekends); make sure your room is quiet, dark and cool; burn off extra energy by exercising; avoid caffeine or a big meal before bed and be sure to stop screen time about an hour before going to sleep. 

Manage chronic conditions
Chronic conditions affect almost half of U.S. adults. If you have a chronic condition like diabetes or depression, managing it is key to staying out of the doctor’s office. That means taking medicines as they are prescribed, eating a healthy diet, following your doctor’s advice and going for recommended checkups. 

“Work closely with your doctor to manage the health issues you have now so you don’t end up with more serious health problems down the road,” said Dr. Favetta.

Dr. Marcel Favetta is an obstetrician-gynecologist at Geisinger Wyoming Valley and Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre. To schedule an appointment, call 800-275-6401.