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Published on August 01, 2010

Women's Wellness August 2010

Exercise and Nutrition: A Prescription for a Healthy Life 

Eating right and exercising are the best ways you can take care of yourself and those who depend on you. A healthy diet and physical activity can give you the energy needed to get through your busy day, support your mood, and help you achieve or maintain a healthy weight.

The American Heart Association recommends that women keep their intake of total fat between 25 and 35 percent, their intake of saturated fat to less than 7 percent and their intake of trans fat to less than 1 percent of total daily calories. Limit your intake of cholesterol from food to less than 300 mg per day and be sure to eat at least 25 to 30 grams of dietary fiber each day—preferably from whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes. For example, an average female who is about 35 years of age requires about 2,000 calories per day. She should consume less than 16 grams of saturated fat, less than 2 grams of trans fat and between 50 to 70 grams of total fat each day (with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, such as fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following nutrition tips for women:

·       Focus on whole, plant-based foods. Fill most of your plate with fruits and leafy green vegetables. Also include a variety of whole grains, beans and legumes to give you filling fiber and keep you going throughout the day.

·       Bone up on calcium. Women are at a greater risk than men of developing osteoporosis, so it’s important to get plenty of calcium to support your bone health. While dairy products are high in calcium, their animal fat and protein can accelerate bone loss. So, also consider plant-based sources of calcium such as beans, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and collard greens.

·       Don’t eat too much protein. Protein is an essential part of any healthy diet, but eating too much animal-based protein—such as the levels recommended in many low-carb, high-protein diets—is particularly dangerous for women. Eating lots of protein causes calcium loss. Over time, this could lead to a decrease in bone density and/or osteoporosis.

·       Make sure you get enough iron. Many women don’t get enough iron in their diet. On top of that, women lose a lot of this important mineral during menstruation. Boost your intake by eating iron-rich foods such as lean red meat, dark poultry, lentils, spinach, almonds and iron-fortified cereals.

·       Cut back on alcohol and caffeine. Women who have more than two alcoholic drinks a day are at higher risk of osteoporosis. Caffeine consumption interferes with hormone levels and also increases the loss of calcium. Try to limit alcohol consumption to one glass a day and caffeine to one cup a day.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, women between the ages of 18 to 64 should be doing at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity every week, or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. We should also do muscle-strengthening activities at least two days per week, and should include all the major muscle groups such as legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders and arms. Exercises for each muscle group should be repeated 8 to 12 times per session. Adults over the age of 64 should consult their physician to find an exercise plan that is both safe and effective.

Crozer-Keystone’s Healthplex® Sports Club at Springfield Hospital offers a full range of health and wellness programs, including nutrition counseling, strength and cardiovascular fitness, aquatics, yoga and Pilates. For information about the Healthplex® Sports Club, call (610) 328-8888 or visit www.healthplex.net.

For information about Crozer-Keystone’s women’s health services, call 1-800-CK-HEALTH (1-800-254-3258) o visit www.crozerkeystone.org.

Reviewed by Mitchell Kaminski, M.D., chairman of the Department of Family Medicine at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. Dr. Kaminski’s office is located in Upland, and can be reached at (610) 619-7470.

Test Your Knowledge: Food Quiz

Do you know how much protein you should eat each day? Which foods contain cholesterol? Fat? Find out by taking our food quiz.

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