As Maya Angelou put it,
“I’m interested in women’s health because I’m a woman. I’d be a darn fool not to be on my own side.”
This National Women’s Health and Fitness Day was developed and is hosted every year by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, with a focus on how important regular physical activity and awareness of our personal health is. While you can check out hundreds of resources and tips for women’s health and fitness on the USDA website here, we’ve put together 5 ways to celebrate this day that are both fun and family (and COVID-19) friendly! Nothing is more important than your health and fitness, even if it feels like you have one thousand #1 priorities and a to-do list that’s miles long. We hope you take at least one of these actions today, and that you spend some time on yourself. You deserve it!
1 – Make a DIY Food Facial and Give Yourself an At-Home Beauty Treatment
Did you know your skin is your body’s largest organ, and that everything you put on your face is absorbed through pores, into your body? Yikes! There’s no better time than a National Health and Fitness day than to give your skin a boost. So head on over to your local beauty store – the kitchen – and see what’s on the shelf! You’d be surprised what your pantry already has available that can bring on a youthful glow.
For dry skin seeking a moisture boost: Bananas!
Bananas can be used as an all-natural moisturizer. Simply mash up a medium-sized banana into a paste, apply it to a cleansed face and neck, and let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes, and then rinse with cold water.
For inflamed or irritated skin: Oats!
There’s a reason why tons of the beauty products you find in drug stores are made with oatmeal – oats can be used to help reduce inflammation, rashes, or irritated skin. For those suffering from eczema and extremely dry, flakey skin, oatmeal masks may be just the trick from some welcomed relief. And the recipe is easy! Mix 2 tablespoons oatmeal, 1 tablespoon of honey (local if you have it), and 1 teaspoon lemon juice together. Apply to your face for 10 to 20 minutes, and then rinse gently with warm water.
2 – Stay Hydrated while also Treating Yourself with these Infused Water Recipes.
Getting all 64 oz+ of water in by the end of the day can be tough! While sweet alternatives like soda, juice, or tea can be tempting, try to find ways to treat yourself with a refreshing drink that will also keep you hydrated. Pro tip – put these in a fancy glass to feel classy at the same time.
Any of these combinations can be added to your water and kept in the fridge, ideally prepared at least 2 hours before you plan to enjoy it. Herbs in these recipes last four a few days or even a week, while some fruit may start breaking down sooner. Recipes are based on 10 glasses of water – see if you can drink the entire batch by the end of the day!
Strawberry Basil Lemonade
- 1 cup strawberries, stem removed and sliced
- 10 large basil leaves, chopped into medium pieces
- 2 lemons, washed and thinly sliced (not peeled
- 1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced
- ½ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped into medium pieces
- 1 cup watermelon cubes (seedless)
- 4-6 basil leaves
- Make your own!These ingredients are also great for infusions.
3 – Focus on Good Posture and Your Spinal Health.
Maintaining proper posture is tough, and many don’t realize it actually requires muscle strength in your back. So if your back muscles are weak, maintaining the correct posture will be even more difficult. The US National Library of Medicine put together a helpful guide to good posture that you can practice anywhere – even during your lunch break or in between back-to-back meetings (no pun intended). They’ve outlined posture into two main types, and highlight that we need both:
Dynamic posture: how you hold yourself when you are moving, like when you are walking, running, or bending over to pick up something.
Static posture: how you hold yourself when you are not moving, like when you are sitting, standing, or sleeping.
In fact, the American Chiropractic Association warns that the consequences of long-term poor posture can be extreme and painful. Excessive staring on our postural muscles may cause them to overly relax, making our bodies more prone to back injuries and long-term back pain.
Trouble with your posture while standing? Try practicing the following:
- Stand up straight and tall.
- Pull your stomach in towards your back.
- Put your weight mostly on the balls of your feet.
- Let your arms naturally hang down at your sides.
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your head level – don’t stare up or down while walking or standing.
Trouble with your posture while sitting? Try practicing the following:
- Change positions often.
- Take brief walks around the office or house when you can.
- Gently stretch your muscles regularly.
- Make sure your feet touch the floor.
- Make sure your back is fully supported by using a back pillow or other back support.
- Don’t cross your legs – keep your feet on the floor and your ankles in front of your knees!
- Relax your shoulders.
- Make sure your thighs and hips are supported – your seat should be well-padded and your thighs and hips should be parallel to the floor.
Read the full Guide to Good Posture here. If interested, you can also try practicing these helpful yoga poses to assist in improving your posture, while also enjoying the physical and mental benefits of regular yoga practice (reducing anxiety, improving sleep, lowering blood pressure, and heart rate to name only a few).
4 – Have Some Chocolate.
That’s right! According to the American Cancer Society, in some varieties, chocolate retains the flavanols that exist in cocoa beans, which are rich in antioxidants and can reduce damage to your cells. Obviously, enjoy this treat in moderation and avoid extra-sugary versions. They recommend sticking with chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa.
5 – TAKE. A. NAP.
If there was ever a day to enjoy a mid-day snooze, it’s today! The benefits of the proper amount of sleep cannot be over-exaggerated, and the National Institute of Health considers sleep to be a vital role in good mental health, physical health, and quality of life. A well-rested body can help boost your immune system, increase productivity, improve your memory, improve your mood, strengthen your heart, help prevent weight gain, the list goes on. Here are a few tips for how to make the most of a power nap (without oversleeping), and you can read more about that here.
How to hone the power in “power nap”:
Keep the nap between 10 and 20 minutes.
Any longer, and you could slip into your REM (rapid eye movement) cycle, and when you wake up you’ll be more tired than before you napped.
If 20 minutes isn’t enough, make sure you sleep at least 90 minutes, so that you can benefit from dripping into your REM cycle without exhausting yourself even more.
Nap sometime between 2-4 PM.
This way, you’re less likely to mess with your normal sleep schedule, assuming you sleep around 8 hours (as recommended!)
Find somewhere quiet and comfortable.
Studies show that sleeping on a slowly swinging hammock puts people to sleep faster – just like a baby in a swing. Unfortunately, we don’t all have access to hammocks on our lunch breaks, so try and create an environment that makes it easy for you to dip into sleep fastest. Somewhere comfortable, dark, and quiet.
Whether you decide to take the day to relax and recharge or to tackle something new and active, the key is to keep your health and fitness top of mind – today, and every day. Happy National Women’s Health and Fitness Day from Dr. Wright and his team!