August 1 is National Girlfriends Day. Friends can offer support, work out with you, and call your attention to matters you may be ignoring. Learn tips to help you and your friends stay safe and healthy.
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, a group exercise class, or swimming. When eating out or cooking at home, be sure to include fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods. Avoid foods and beverages high in calories, saturated fat, and reduce the amounts of sugars and salt in your diet.
- Be active with friends and get the many benefits of regular physical activity including reducing your risk of heart disease and some cancers. Adults need to be active for at least 2½ hours a week.
- Avoid portion size pitfalls and find ways to cut calorie intake, like splitting a meal with a friend.
Get Preventive Screenings and Care
Friends can tell each other about the importance of getting recommended screenings, which can help find problems early, and help identify which ones to focus your attention for better health.
- 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 your age, history, and other factors.
- CDC's National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) offers free or low-cost mammograms and Pap tests. Encourage your friends to see if they qualify.
Check Your Sexual Health
You and your friends talk about everything…including sexual health. Share tips on everything from having a healthy pregnancy to preventing sexually transmitted diseases. Here are a few tips to help you stay healthy.
- Get tested to be certain you are not infected. Knowing your status is an important step to stopping STD transmission.
- You can reduce the risk of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) by not having sex, reducing the number of sex partners, using condoms, and mutual monogamy (agreeing to be sexually active with only one person). Vaccines are safe, effective, and recommended ways to prevent hepatitis B and HPV.HPV vaccines for males and females can protect against some of the most common types of HPV.
- 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 like seeing a doctor and taking 400 micrograms of folic acid every day before becoming pregnant to help ensure a healthier pregnancy and baby.
Prevent Skin Cancer
More than 9,000 Americans die each year of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer. The majority of skin cancer is caused by exposure to too much ultraviolet light. Remind your friends that tanned skin is damaged skin and that tanning indoors is not safer than tanning in the sun.
To lower your skin cancer risk, protect your skin from the sun and avoid indoor tanning. Encourage your friends to take these steps:
- Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours.
- Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
- Wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet rays.
- Use sunscreen with SPF (sun protection factor) 15 or higher and reapply every two hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
Quit Alcohol and Tobacco
Encourage your friends to cut down on drinking and to quit smoking. Resources are available for people who are trying to quit or cut down on drinking orgive up smoking.
- Binge drinking (defined for women as consuming four or more drinks on an occasion) and excessive alcohol use 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[745 KB] 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.
- Call your state's tobacco quitline (for English speakers, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW [1-800-784-8669]; for Spanish speakers, call 1-855-DÉJELO-YA [1-855-335-3569]) or visit smokefreewomen.
Protect Healthy Relationships and Prevent Violence
Intimate partner violence has significant adverse health consequences. Over 1 in 5 women (22%) 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.