Women are the ground where life is cultivated, sprouts, grows and is harvested. Being a healthy woman in Nigeria is a priority and achievable.
When value is placed on health not just by admitting but fully participating and showing action in the things that will make a woman truly healthy is the key.
Living healthy in Nigeria as a woman sometimes seems hard and entwined in confusion because most of the things that really promote health require extra work and out of the comfort zone.
And the situation of the past few years has made it even worse as the standard of living is aground.
But however, there is healthy living in whatever situation you find yourself. Being aware and disciplined will surely help to achieve a healthier life for the Nigerian woman.
As long as the woman lives, she continues to be a lifesaver and nurturer to as many as she brings to the world and those around her, sometimes sacrificing her own needs and health to keep others healthy. The pressure breaks her down, sometimes absolutely.
Who is going to save the woman from associated health situations that arise because of being a woman?
Most women spend their entire life excelling in various roles. This, however comes at the cost of their own well-being.
What most women fail to understand is that a healthier woman is needed for a healthy society and a strong foundation for future generations.
Therefore, it is very important that women know the importance of good health and leverage on the abundant resources available to them that reinforces good health without actually spending much.
Avoiding diseases through healthy habits should be a priority to every woman to prolong life, live a happy and pain free life as old age approaches.
But in the confusion and chaos of a woman’s everyday life, living healthy can be a burden rather than a priority because of chores, work, schedules and everything that a woman does to make both ends meet or satisfy the family or other demands of life.
There are simple steps you as a woman can take to live a longer healthier life. Of course, you have to be deliberate about it, you have to know and take the decision of living a healthier life as this is the first approach to embrace.
So here The Conducts of Life has compiled some health tips every woman should know and apply to remain strong and contribute positively to the larger society.
Become active, become healthy
Exercise goes a long way in making a healthier woman. The leading cause of death for women in the world is heart disease and the most common is the blockage or narrowing of the arteries that move blood to and fro the heart.
It’s called the coronary artery disease. The big effect of this disease happens slowly over time and cause people to have heart attacks.
One habit that keeps coronary heart disease at bay is exercise. Being physically active is a good step to prevent heart disease and keep your circulatory system healthy.
The circulatory system transports oxygen and nutrients which your body relies on throughout the body. A breach in this supply spells trouble for your entire body.
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Apart from fighting against heart disease, there are many other benefits of exercise which makes it indispensable in making a healthier woman.
Exercise does not necessarily mean vigorous physical activity that stretches the woman to her limits. Whatever physical activity that makes your body move and sweat making your breath faster and deeper is okay.
The concept is to exert the body to engage and stimulate every part that has been inactive including the mental and bone health.
Aiming for a 30 minutes body movement 3 times in a week is good. Cardio or aerobic exercises give best result. These includes the following:
- brisk walking
Doing any of these regularly will go a long way in keeping your circulatory system free of debris and the heart pumping.
Be self-confident and feel healthy
The self-confident woman is not driven by whims or what is trending all over which is an attribute of a healthier woman.
She calculates her moves, expenses, and behaviours as she picks what is best for her and her loved ones instead of following the crowd and getting hurt ignorantly.
The opposite of self-confidence has destroyed more women than is imagined. Self-confidence begets good decision-making which also helps the woman avert situations that will put her health on the line.
Feelings of inadequacy and inferiority complex could make one depend on the validation of others to get by.
This could present itself sometimes as friendship or clique but it is actually destructive even as it is temporarily fulfilling.
Every woman, married or unmarried should develop a healthy self-esteem which her life is hugely going to depend on as she progresses in life as a spouse, an employee or as a street hawker.
Balanced diet makes a healthy woman
The foundation of a healthy life is hinged mostly on what you feed the body. Your body requires daily intake of nourishing food which could be said to be the petrol, the energy it runs on.
Since food for the body is on daily basis, then care should be taken to give it what can keep it in good shape as long as possible, even much more for a woman.
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Apart from weight loss and maintenance, eating a balanced diet is crucial to a woman’s overall health.
Good foods provide vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are important for growth, well-being and development.
Having balance diet on your table begins with avoiding unhealthy foods which include packaged and processed foods that are ladened with sugar, salt, unhealthy fats and all the calories in the world.
The worst of it all is the preservative chemicals used to keep them on the shelves as long as they want.
The fast foods might be tempting as they are bought already processed or half-cooked and so you don’t need much work to have it descend down your gullet and hitting your stomach in the most satisfying way.
But they are so bad that you and your body will bear the brunt in no time.
Don’t be lazy, plan your fresh meals regularly.
Below are the healthy foods to opt for, and did I tell you they could even be cheaper on the long run compared to all the accumulated hospital bills and pains the junk could cause you?
- fresh fruits and vegetables
- whole grains
- fiber-rich foods such as beans and leafy greens
- fresh fish
- lean cuts of meat and poultry
- healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, and olive oil
- low-fat dairy
As you can see, most of these foods need preparation and maybe cooking. That could be a reason most women don’t cook fresh foods regularly, especially younger women opting for foods already prepared by people who are looking to make profit, and might resort to whatever strategy, including hurting your health to make money.
Don’t be lazy, it’s better to prepare your own meal in the worst way than to be fed what could hurt your health on the long run.
Being too busy for your wellbeing is the most annoying excuse I hear from ignorant women who are putting their health on the line either because of work or whatever.
I trust Nigerian women on this, 75 percent of them cook their own meals. This however came from an old tradition of the woman owning the kitchen and cooking what the family eats right from the young age, though daughters of Jezebel are trying to change that and opting for the junk since the time of Mr. Biggs.
One thing is sure, you can never go wrong with cooking your meals fresh. What I have come to realize is that whatever that is important in life, no matter how small needs planning and sticking to it. Your daily diet is not an exception.
Plan your meals ahead of time, shop your fresh foods in good time so you don’t run into the frenzy of making up with what I call slow poisons. You are more likely to quickly buy junk foods when you are too hungry.
Other benefits of a balanced diet are weight loss which keeps cancer, diabetes, and heart diseases at bay. These 26 evidence-based weight loss tips may help you shed pounds once and for all.
A healthy sex life improves health
Every woman might have their own opinion and approach to sex as a result of religion, culture or societal norms. But what is constant is that sex is good and a way to kind of unwind, procreate, and relieve a quantum of stress.
Nigerian women should be attentive to their sexual health as this is a lifelong responsibility the promotes good health.
A woman’s sexual health needs, span decades and encompass a variety of issues, from preventing unintended pregnancy to boosting a sagging libido.
When the woman becomes sexually active, the emphasis of sexual health falls primarily into the following:
- protecting against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- finding a birth control or family planning method that works for you
- having regular STI screenings, Pap smears, and pelvic exams
But later in life, your needs may change. Many of these changes coincide with other physical changes you may be experiencing. These mostly are hinged on the female hormones:
- low libido or sex drive
- inability to reach orgasm
- reduced response to sexual stimulation
- not enough natural lubrication for sex
- uncomfortable or painful sex
Women can have a healthy sex life and enjoy the rewards therein, and it’s not just about the calories burned between the sheets.
Women with a healthy sex life may have a lower risk of cardiovascular events – high blood pressure and heart attacks than men. Women can, and should reap the reward of a robust sex life throughout their years.
Sexual health encompasses the entire spectrum of health and well-being of an individual. It includes all the following aspects in relation to sexuality:
If you’re sexually active, it places you at an increased risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STIs). Vaginal, anal, and oral sex all put you at risk for sexually transmitted infections.
Risk increases as the number of sexual partners increase, though it’s possible to contract an STI the first time you have sex with a partner.
However, knowing how to protect yourself and your partner(s) can help reduce your risk for contracting an STI. Proper protection during sexual activity can also help prevent the transmission of STIs.
Contracting STIs make it herculean for a woman to enjoy good sexual health as a result of unusual changes and health challenges that accompanies it. As is always said, ‘prevention is better than cure’.
Becoming a mother
Being expectant and having a baby could seem the destination of every sexual move, as prescribed in the book. Procreation requires preparation and should be a deliberate decision.
Whether you’re pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or just starting to consider it, a healthy life for your baby starts with preparation. Even before you take a pregnancy test, you can take significant steps to protect your future baby’s health.
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Being deliberate about anything at all could save the woman a lot of stress and resources than carelessness and following the whims and trend of the society.
Taking care of your sexual health while anticipating to have a family someday is tantamount to taking care of your future babies.
Behaviours like alcohol intake, smoking and others might hurt your chances of making babies, hurt your baby or complicate the situation and put you and the baby in danger.
In the same vein, you can increase the chances of good health with your baby by balancing your diets, being active, choosing good vitamins and paying overall attention to your health.
There is absolute joy and new life accompanying being a mother and having a smaller human always in your arms to cater for and raise.
In fact, it is believed having a baby improves the lives of many women and make them fulfilled and happy though there are some negative health situations that might arise for some people like postpartum depression.
However, the overall situation is bright for new mothers.
Parenting is tough, hard work that is also rewarding. The best way to succeed in whatever situation is to know how the situation works and learn.
Even if the situation is known not to have a form, being aware that you have a big work on your hands is enough to have your best foot forward.
You’ll have questions, and you’ll need help. A strong support network of friends and family members you can call on is vital.
When you need someone to pick up your sick child or show up at a soccer game so your little one has a fan, this group of people will be an essential resource.
Breast health might not have been a sub-topic in this post but it qualifies to be one owing to the health situations that arise from the breast.
Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women all over the world. If you have a family or family history of breast cancer, your risk for developing this condition is high.
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It is recommended that women of average risk have a mammogram screening every other year between the ages of 40 and 74. Your doctor may recommend you start earlier if you have a family history of breast cancer.
It is also recommended that women conduct self-exams on a monthly basis starting at age 20 years of age. These measures help dictate the earliest possible signs of cancer so it can be nipped easily as a full-blown situation will have a debilitating effect on the woman and her family physically, emotionally, financially and otherwise.
Manage stress and improve your health
Stress is your body’s response to the daily occurrences in your life. Everyone experiences stress and it can be positive and motivate women to achieve notable goals.
But it can also be negative and destructive, taking its toll in many areas of life. When stress becomes chronic or excessive, it becomes harder to adapt and cope.
Many women all over the world are immersed in huge stress. Career, family and kids, friends, business etc.
In recent times, women all over, Nigeria included have become active in business and other spheres that position them to be breadwinners, inheriting the pressures that were traditionally reserved for men. This does not come without awaiting consequences.
The pressure to meet up with a lot of targets and responsibilities positions the woman in the path of stress which will manifest beyond grey hairs as usual and take a toll on the woman. Some signs of stress include:
- Physical: High blood pressure, headaches, difficulty sleeping, tiredness, pain (most commonly in the back and neck), overeating/under eating, skin problems, drug and alcohol misuse, lack of energy, upset stomach, less interest in sex/other things you used to enjoy.
- Emotional: Anxiety, depression, anger, unhappiness, irritability, feelings of being out of control, mood swings, frustration.
- Mental: Forgetfulness, worry, can’t make decisions, negative thinking, lack of focus, boredom.
- Occupational: Work overload, long hours, tense relations, poor concentration, unfulfilling job.
- Social: Less intimacy, isolation, family problems, loneliness.
- Spiritual: Apathy, loss of meaning, emptiness, unforgiving, doubt, guilt, despair.
You can manage stress with relaxation techniques such as:
- yoga or tai chi
Avoid known health risks
Health situations will always remain as long as we live. Some are peculiar to women and some to men. Whereas some diseases are hereditary and there is nothing one can do about them for now but management. One can still get much out of the situation if managed properly.
However, there are health situations that are acquired through careless habits or sheer negligence. These are the ones we are encouraged to avoid by living a healthy life. Below are some of them:
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women all over. Additionally, women are more likely than men to die following a heart attack.
Women are more likely to have a stroke than men. Men and women share many of the same risk factors for stroke, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. However, women have several unique risk factors. These include:
- birth control use
- hormone replacement therapy
Urinary tract infections
Women have a shorter urethra, which means bacteria have a smaller distance to travel before they reach your bladder and start an infection. For that reason, urinary tract problems, including infections and incontinence, are more common in women.
We know that alcohol has its good benefits and we love to indulge in it sometimes. That’s fine, but it’s bad to regularly indulge and become dependent on it.
For women, a moderate amount of alcohol is one tumbler of beer, a glass of wine, or about 1 shot of spirits each day.
One glass of wine a day may help cut heart disease risk, but more than that increases your risk of cancer and other conditions.
The impacts of chronic alcohol use are greater on women than men. These complications include heart disease and breast cancer.
Additionally, babies born by women who drink alcohol during pregnancy may have a condition called foetal alcohol syndrome. This can cause brain damage and learning delays.
It has been widely documented that there are gender differences in depression prevalence, with women experiencing major depression more often than men. This risk exists independent of race or ethnicity.
From ages 14 to 25, women are twiceTrusted Source as likely than men to have depression. That ratio narrows with age.
While this common form of arthritis can occur in both men and women, it’s more common in women over age 45. Research suggests that women are more likely to experience joint pain, aching, and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis.
Age in health
Growing old is inevitable and is a nightmare to some women. I remember some women who get offended when addressed as Mama. They feel they have not reached the age to assume the title. Subtly, they are saying they don’t like to be old. Funny, isn’t it?
A healthier woman is not afraid of aging because she has already prepared for the transition. Accepting aging is the beginning of good health in old age which doesn’t mean anything negative.
Old age does not translate to lying there in aches and pains all the time and being at the mercy of people around you.
For women, healthy aging depends largely on the early life health behaviours. A healthier woman in her youth is likely to be a healthier woman in her old age. Unhealthy life practices at the early life could culminate into bad health experiences later in life.
However, starting the good health behaviour is encouraged whenever you can. That’s great news because so much of what you can do to be healthy today will prevent you from feeling beyond your years tomorrow.
That includes eating a healthy diet, staying active, and having regular health screenings.
Aging healthily also points out things you shouldn’t do, such as using tobacco products and drinking excess alcohol. There’s something worrisome I have observed repeatedly, especially in Nigerian women: you see women who are already overweight and showing obvious signs of ill health engaging in unhealthy diet with so much glee.
This shows that ignorance, blatant or deliberate sabotage of their health is in full play, deteriorating their health and depriving themselves of becoming healthier woman.
They consume anything presented to them especially in parties and ceremonies. Very worrisome, even as this is a little insight into what is happening to the health of the general population. Practices that bring aging before time.
Aging can be slowed by learning to manage stress and cope with mental health issues that will naturally arise throughout your life, more so for a woman living in Nigeria.
Aging isn’t just how your body feels. It’s also how it looks. You can prevent little spots and dots that make our skin look older than you feel. The skin-related choices you make in your 20s, such as bleaching ignorantly and long days at the pool, will rear their ugly heads as you age.
Visit the doctor
Becoming a healthier woman won’t be close to complete without having regular appointment with your doctor.
Other than breast exams and gynaecological visits, you should make sure to visit your doctor regularly for check-ups and screening exams.
You should have blood work, biometric data such as blood pressure and weight, and other preventive testing measures done at your yearly physical. These tests can nip potential issues in the bud.
Living a healthy life might sound easy but it’s quite not easy to live healthily for a year straight. There must be times circumstance would happen to us and we fail to do what we are supposed to do because of time constraint, resources or whatever.
However, being in the know and consistent determination will always win even if you falter sometimes. Knowledge is power and this generation have information and knowledge at their fingertips, unless we deliberately or carelessly don’t want to know to improve our lives.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A Personal Development Content Creator and an author. I write about life ethics and love to document and share life hacks and experiences of people to help others make good life decisions.
Every content published on The Conducts Of Life is well-reviewed by experienced professionals in the field. Contents are fact-checked for accuracy, relevance, and timeliness and we include links to sources at the bottom of every article for more insights.