August 1 is National Girlfriends Day. Encourage one another to stay healthy.
Friends can support your efforts, work out with you, and call your attention to matters you may be ignoring. Here are some tips to help you and your friends stay healthy and safe.
Be Active and Eat Healthy
Make healthy choices when you get together with your friends. Find fun ways to get physical activity like walking, dancing, gardening, or swimming. When eating out or cooking at home, be sure to include fruits and vegetables and other foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Avoid foods and beverages high in calories, saturated fat, or added sugars and salt.
- Be active for at least 2½ hours a week. Children and teens need at least one hour of activity daily.
- Exercise with friends and get the many benefits of regular physical activity.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Avoid portion size pitfalls. Split an entrée with a friend.
- Find ways to cut calorie intake and still feel full.
Get Regular Exams and Screenings
Friends can encourage each other to get their regular health exams and screenings, which can help find problems early, and help to identify which ones to focus your attention for better health.
- If you or your friends don't have health insurance, contact a health department, federally-qualified health center, or sign up for Medicaid or Medicare if eligible. Sign up for health insurance through the Marketplace starting in November, or before if you qualify.
- Get a well woman visit. This includes a full checkup and focuses on overall health and wellness.
- Get screened for cervical, breast, or colorectal cancer depending on age, history, and other factors. Find out about other preventive services and tests. Screening can help save lives.
Check Your Sexual Health
You and your friends talk about everything…including sex. Share tips on having a healthy pregnancy to preventing sexually transmitted infections. Here are a few:
- The most reliable way to avoid a sexually transmitted infection is to not have sex.
- Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is also one of the most reliable ways to avoid sexually transmitted diseases.
- Get tested to be certain you are not infected.
- If you don't want to get pregnant, use safe and highly effective methods of birth control. If you do want to have a baby, engage in healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant to help ensure a healthier pregnancy and baby.
Give Up Drugs, Alcohol, and Tobacco
Friends can be important sources of support. Resources are available for people who are trying to quit or cut down on drinking or give up smoking.
- Binge drinking (defined for women as consuming four or more drinks on an occasion) increases the chances of breast cancer, heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, and other health problems.
- Call1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357) — to get information about drug and alcohol treatment in your local community.
- Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits. You lower your risk for different types of cancer, and don't expose others to secondhand smoke—which causes health problems in infants, children, and adults.
- Call the state tobacco quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669); TTY 1-855-855-7081; relay service 1-800-833-6384 or visit smokefree women.
Intimate partner violence has significant adverse health consequences. Nearly 1 in 4 women (24%) and 1 in 7 men (14%) have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. This violence and its heavy toll can be prevented. Promoting respectful, nonviolent relationships is key.
If you are, or know someone who is, the victim of intimate partner violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) or contact your local emergency services at 9-1-1.