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5 Healthy Resolutions for Women

Experts share their thoughts on the top 5 things women can do to get healthy and well in the new year.

New Year's Resolution No. 4: Take Health Exams and Get an "A" for Good Health continued...

An osteoporosis screening test is ideal for all women aged 65 or older, or for younger women with one or more risk factor. It is also important to get tested if this problem runs in your family.

There are other important health exams for women, and the optimal benefits usually correspond with certain age groups. Mammograms, for example, screen for breast cancer, a disease with a risk that increases after age 40. Consequently, the Task Force recommends that mammograms be performed every one or two years beginning at 40.

Pap smears, which screen for cervical cancer, are recommended to start within three years of onset of sexual activity or at 21 years old, whichever comes first, and to continue screening at least every three years. Also, discuss with your doctor the new HPV vaccine, which helps reduce your risk of cervical cancer.

Starting at 50, testing for colorectal cancer is also important. The disease more often strikes older men and women.

Other important areas of screening for women include blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, depression, and sexually transmitted diseases.

For more information on screening, check out WebMD's Health Checklist for Women Over 40.

There are risks to every exam, including the possibility of an inaccurate report. Overall, though, experts say they play an invaluable role in good health. "Screenings can't prevent anything, but they can make treatment more effective," says Cindy Pearson, executive director of the National Women's Health Network.

New Year's Resolution No. 5: Move Center Stage

Women are well-known caretakers and jugglers of several tasks at once. With responsibilities concerning home, work, and children, there just aren't enough hours to do all that needs done. The result: many women feel frazzled, frustrated, and forlorn.

The mere thought of taking time to take care of themselves sends ripples of guilt through many women. Where does one find the time for self-care?

Make the time, says Mark. Research shows stress can wreak havoc on health. It's not unusual for the stressed to have stomachaches, diarrhea, increased appetite, and weight gain. Constant stress can also compromise the immune system, making people more vulnerable to colds and other infections. The pressure can also aggravate illnesses, produce anxiety and depression, disrupt valuable sleep, decrease sex drive, and raise blood pressure.

The list of negative consequences goes on and on. But women do not have to be victims, or they can try to change unpleasant situations.

Peter A. Wish, PhD, a psychologist in Sarasota, Fla., suggests identifying stresses, prioritizing them according to importance, and then tackling them one at a time. He recommends starting with an easy objective, and then moving on to another minigoal. "It starts with something that you can be successful at, and nothing succeeds like success," he says. "It reinforces you to keep going."

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