Let me be the first to wish you a very happy National Women’s Health Week!

What? You’ve never heard of it?

I’m shocked! Shocked, I tell you!

Well, maybe not. Don’t let my feigned indignation fool you. I mean, it’s not like it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas, or even President’s Day. I’m not surprised I caught you unaware.

But maybe that’s a mistake. After all, we should all know — and celebrate — a week that’s devoted especially to women’s health. As women, we have a tendency to put everyone else first. We take care of our kids, our spouses, our pets, our parents, our homes, often neglecting our own needs in the process. And that’s the problem. If we’re not healthy and happy, we can’t do anything particularly well (and this includes skiing).  It’s all a matter of balance. By putting ourselves first, we actually give ourselves the ability and strength to take care of others better and do the things we want to do. It’s not being selfish. It’s being smart.

Which brings us to National Women’s Health Week.  The week was developed by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health to promote women’s health and its importance, and to  empower women to make their own health a priority. It also encourages women to take the following steps to improve their physical and mental health and lower their risks of certain diseases:

  • Visit a health care professional to receive regular checkups and preventive screenings. There’s a terrific interactive screening menu on the National Women’s Health Week website. You can use it to figure out which screenings you need and when you them.  For someone like me, who can find all this very confusing, it’s defintely worth checking out.
  • Get active. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 20 percent of adults in the U.S. are meeting both the aerobic and muscle strengthening components of the federal government’s physical activity recommendations. So how much exercise is enough? I did a blog post about this once. You can check it out here.
  • Eat healthy. This is a key component not just in keeping  your weight under control, but in preventing disease, keeping your energy up, and making you feel all around better. You know the drill: reduce your fat, sugar, and processed foods, eat more veggies, fruit, and whole grains.
  • Pay attention to mental health,  including getting enough sleep and managing stress.
  • Avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, not wearing a seatbelt or bicycle or ski helmet, and texting while driving. This includes skiing safely, too. Watch out for skiers around you. Look uphill before you start. Ski in control. And if you ski in the backcountry, take the necessary precautions and get avalanche training.

So do yourself a favor. Take some time this week to think about what you can do to improve your health and well being. And instead of setting it aside for later, take action now.

And have a good week.