But NWHW is a time for all women, not just those who have children, to take stock of their health as well as the practices they can incorporate to live life to the fullest.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women’s Health leads National Women’s Health Week to encourage all women to be as healthy as possible. This year, it runs through Saturday, May 19.
So this is a great time to remind women of ways to maintain and improve their health, and how Monongalia County Health Department can help.
First on the list is to visit a health practitioner for a checkup and preventative screenings. You may have your own family physician; MCHD Clinical Services also is available for Pap tests, mammogram referrals, vaccines, low-cost and free birth control and free testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. For an appointment, call 304-598-5119.
Next on the list is get active. It’s great that NWHW takes place in May, when good weather has finally rolled around. May also is National Bike Month. This is a celebration that Morgantown takes seriously; the Morgantown Municipal Bike Board has created a slate of bike events. These include a social bike ride on May 11, bike to work day on May 18 and the Motown Bike Bonanza on May 19. For more information, check out Bike Morgantown.
Of course, just because Monongalia County’s rail-trail system makes this a great place for biking doesn’t mean that is your only option for activity. Walking, jogging, exercise classes, yoga, Pilates and sports are just some of the options for getting out there and getting your steps in.
In addition to exercising, eating right also is key. Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and children up to the age of 5 who qualify to participate in MCHD’s Women, Infants, and Children program can get nutritional counseling, food vouchers and food packages from WIC. Income guidelines were just updated last month, and they are higher than people sometimes anticipate. For instance, a family of four can earn a gross monthly income of $3,870 and an annual income of $46,435 and qualify for WIC. And anyone can attend WIC’s breastfeeding classes. For more information about WIC, call 304-598-5181.
Another component of health that we often neglect is mental health. Just getting enough sleep can make all the difference in your day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night, and more if possible. One in three people don’t get enough sleep. If you are one of the one in three, or if you would like to improve your already-decent sleep habits, here is a list of tips from the CDC on sleep hygiene.
Managing stress also is key. Sleep, exercise and a healthy diet can help, as can avoiding caffeine. Friends are a great outlet in general and being with them can boost feelings of wellness. But it’s also OK to seek professional help to talk to someone about mental health and managing stress.
Finally, avoiding unhealthy behaviors is the last piece of the puzzle of good health. No. 1 on this list would be not to smoke. West Virginia got some good news in this category late last year. According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, the number of adults in the state who smoke declined from 28.6 percent in 2011 to 24.8 percent in 2016.
This illustrates that teaching children and teenagers the dangers of smoking acts as a deterrent. If you’ve never smoked before, don’t start. If you do, consider quitting. If you need help, call the West Virginia Tobacco Quitline at 800-QUIT-NOW or 877-966-8784.
Another unhealthy behavior to avoid is texting while driving. Distracted driving claimed 3,450 lives in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Of course, you should always wear a seatbelt when you are in a moving car as well.
And finally, wear a helmet when you ride a bike. That’s not only a good advice during National Bike Month, but year-round. And like not texting while driving and wearing a seatbelt, it’s the law.
Eating right, taking care of your physical and mental health, getting enough sleep and exercise—that’s up to you. Nobody can change all their habits at once, but NWHW is a good time to take that first step. Maybe just change one habit this week. Who knows what that could lead to?