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A Healthy, Happy 2012! (online only)
January 2012
By James N. Martin, Jr, MD

The beginning of a new year is a great time to get your priorities in order and to set goals for the next 365 days. ACOG urges women to put health at the top of their 2010 to-do lists. Remember these healthy living tips:

Eat Healthier. Aim to eat a balanced diet rich in a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lowfat dairy, and lean protein. According to the US Department of Agriculture, a 35-year-old woman who gets 30–60 minutes of exercise per day should eat a 2,000 calorie daily diet consisting of 6 ounces of grains (at least half from whole grains), 2 ½ cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of low/nonfat milk or milk products, and 5 ½ ounces of lean meat, fish, and beans. Additionally, cut back on sodium, fats, processed sugar, and refined grains.

Get Active. Regular physical activity helps increase overall well-being while lowering the risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, some cancers, and other illnesses caused by inactivity. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week to lower the risk of chronic disease; 60 minutes on most days to maintain weight; and at least 60 to 90 minutes on most days to lose weight. A well-rounded exercise regimen should be fun, sustainable, and include cardiovascular, strength training, and flexibility components.

Quit Smoking. Despite the numerous dangers of smoking—increased risk of heart disease, infertility, early menopause, and more than 10 different cancers, to name a few—one in five American women still smoke. Quitters gain an improved sense of taste and smell, better circulation, easier breathing, and less hoarseness. They also reduce their risk of heart attack by 50% within a year of quitting.

Drink in Moderation. Alcohol has been linked to both positive effects such as improvements in heart health and bone density, and negative ones including an increased risk of breast and other cancers. If you drink, try to keep it to less than one alcoholic beverage a day.

Get Some Rest. Your body repairs and regenerates tissue, builds bone and muscle, and strengthens its immunity while you sleep. Not getting enough sleep may cause short-term problems such as irritability and memory loss and long-term conditions including diabetes and heart disease. The average adult should aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

Visit Your Ob-Gyn. Women should see their doctor regularly for preventive care. Routine visits to the ob-gyn help ensure women receive age appropriate screenings, exams, and immunizations, and they allow physicians to identify and treat common problems before serious health risks develop.

James N. Martin, Jr, MD is the President of The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.


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