By Ciara Lucas
Every day is a good day to be mindful of your health and fitness, but did you know there’s a national holiday for it? September 28th is National Women’s Health and Fitness Day! It’s an annual day of awareness to promote health for women of all ages.
Of course, healthy living is important for all men, women, and non-binary people, but this day of awareness acknowledges health needs and issues specific to women. According to the Office on Women’s Health, heart disease is the number one killer of American women. Heart disease also affects men at high rates, but symptoms and risk factors can differ in the female population. Women have female-specific risk factors for heart disease, such as menopause. Other risk factors, including obesity, metabolic syndrome, and depression, happen more often.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration suggests these tips for women to prevent heart disease:
Know Your Risk Factors
- Chronic illnesses including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes
- A family history of premature heart disease
Manage Current Chronic Health Conditions
Know the Signs of a Heart Attack
- Tightness in the chest, arm(s), neck, jaw, back, or abdomen
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme fatigue
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
Eat Heart-Healthy Foods
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Limited processed foods and added sugars
National Women’s Health and Fitness Day is a great reminder to schedule annual health exams and screenings. These appointments are essential to preventive care and being proactive about health and wellness. Women’s health exams include pap smears, mammograms, breast cancer screenings, physical exams, and blood pressure screenings. You should discuss which screenings are appropriate for your age group with your physician.
In addition to health exams, another significant component of healthy living is regular exercise. Daily movement has enormous benefits, including more energy, a boost in mood, weight management, stress relief, and reduced disease risk. Whether you enjoy going to the gym, attending a group exercise class, or taking a walk outside, any activity that increases your heart rate and your body moving is a good choice.
Looking for ways to move without leaving home? Check out these exercises and stretches that you can do with household items:
Chair tricep dips
- Use a stable kitchen or dining room chair. Sit on the edge of the chair with your hands in a narrow position. Gently dip your hips off the chair, bending your elbows straight back. Come back to the seated position with each rep.
Weighted lunges (w/ laundry detergent)
- Grab two laundry detergent bottles in each hand — they should be full! Step back into a lunge position. Dip until the knee brushes against the floor, then come back to standing—alternate sides.
Bicep curls (w/ laundry detergent)
- Hold (full) bottles of laundry detergent in each hand. Bend at the elbow until the bottles reach shoulder height. Control motion down and repeat.
Hand towel shoulder stretch
- Take a small hand towel and hold it at both ends. Bring arms out in front of you, fully extending. Reach your arms above your head with a full extension, stretching your shoulders.
- Place your back against a bare wall. Bring your feet hip-width apart. Slide down the wall until your hips are parallel with the ground. Hold for 30 seconds.
About the Author:
Ciara Lucas is a journalist, on-air talent, media professional, and fitness/wellness coach. Her multifaceted career brings a unique perspective and expertise to the Vionic Innovation Lab team.
Ciara’s professional career has encompassed contributing to local and national newsrooms including NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, NBC Sports for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, and NBC News coverage of the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march. When she’s not on screen, she’s building connections strengthened through sweat as a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, helping clients find their meaning of sustainable health and happiness.
Ciara has created a personal brand and platform titled “Fit For A Queen” where she aims to empower, motivate, and inspire women from all walks of life to nurture their health and live their best lives by treating their bodies well. She is also an active member of the nonprofit Girls on the Run where she serves as a run coach for elementary school girls.