Top 10 Ways Women Can Improve Their Health

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Want to be fitter and healthier in 2017? Here are the top tips from local experts.

1. Take small steps toward goals. 

“If you’re looking at it as a lifestyle change, make small changes. Maybe don’t make a resolution to completely overhaul your diet and life Jan. 1 because most people have a harder time sticking with that. But smaller changes can make it easier. Goal setting is a way to stay motivated.

2. Improve your diet. 

“I try to encourage a lot of vegetables and whole foods. Everyone knows about the fiber and vitamins in produce, but the phytonutrients provide antioxidants that help strengthen our immune system, fight off potential cancer cells. Whole and colorful fruits and vegetables provide us with so much. It’s all about maintaining a balance. Even in ‘healthful’ foods, there are things that out of balance could cause problems, so it’s important to get variety.”

• Jessica Bennett Gawronski, registered dietitian, Balanced Nutrition of WNY in Amherst

3. Stay positive.  

“I think that No. 1 among the things that are very, very important is attitude. A positive attitude can improve one’s health. You hear about when someone dies and their spouse dies six months later because they’ve lost the will to live. A person who has a good attitude toward life, it improves their health.

4. Stay involved.

“You need social interactions. Give back to the community. All these things contribute to health and wellness.

5. Make up for dietary shortfalls.

“Use appropriate nutritional supplements.

6. Know your family health history.

“In addition to proper preventive care, pap smears, and gynecologic visits, know your family history of potentially inheritable cancer. For example, breast, ovarian and colon cancer in the family. People should be very mindful of their family health history to possibly undergo genetic testing.

7. Don’t over schedule yourself.

“Get enough sleep every night.”

• David Kurss, board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist and founder Women’s Wellness Center in Buffalo

8. Get annual exams.

“Regular gynecological checkups is important to a women’s overall health. Have regular Pap tests and pelvic exams. Cervical cancer screening, with a Pap test & HPV DNA test, should begin at age 21. For women age 21 to 29, screening should be done every 3 years. For women ages 30 to 65, screening should be done every 5 years.”

• Martha Ryan, American Cancer Society senior director of community engagement for Western New York

9. Protect your skin from sun.

“I recommend to every patient to wear a sunscreen of SPF 30-50 every single day, sunshine or rain on the face, neck, and any part of the chest that’s exposed, even in the wintertime. The sun reflects off the snow. Wear wide-brimmed hats and protective clothing and stay in the shade when you’re outside. We see a lot of melanoma because people aren’t used to doing this every single day like in California.

• Elise DeLuke, dermatologist and owner of DeLuke Dermatology in Amherst

10. Don’t tan.

“Tanning beds are one of the worst habits that Americans currently participate in. Over 1 million Americans go to a tanning bed every day, even though we now know that there is a stronger association with skin cancer from tanning beds versus lung cancer from smoking.  Many people who wouldn’t dream of smoking due to its known cancer risks still go tanning. It is expected that there will be over 76,000 cases of melanoma in the country this year and approximately 10,000 people will die of the disease.”

• Michael Nazareth, board-certified dermatologist and president of Western New York Dermatology in Williamsville