Your 20’s are an exciting time! These are the years where you begin to know yourself better and start to develop your health habits, for better or worse. Take control of your health with these 6 healthy habits for young women so that you feel and look better in the short term, and sustain a lifetime of healthy living in the long term.
1. Learn to cook
Your 20’s are a busy time, but be sure to sit down for a nice home-cooked meal every chance you can. Researchers at Brown University Medical School found that women in their 20's eat 25 percent more fast-food meals than they did in their teens. If most of your meals are coming out of a box, you may be missing out on key nutrients that your body needs to thrive.
The top nutrients for women’s health in your 20’s are:
Protein: This essential nutrient builds muscle and keeps you full. Make sure to get in 60 to 70 grams of protein each day, especially at breakfast so that you last until lunch. Choose protein-rich lean meats, eggs, beans, and dairy products.
Omega-3s: Healthy fats should be a staple in a young woman’s diet. Omega-3 fats are found in foods like salmon and tuna. Young women experience many changes in their 20’s that may be difficult to deal with, so this brain-supporting fat can help boost serotonin and make you feel happier.
Folic Acid: Babies might not be on your mind just yet, but if having children is something you’re considering, it’s important to start optimizing your fertility early by getting sufficient levels of folic acid. A supplement of 0.4 mg of folic acid a day can compliment a diet with folic-rich foods, like spinach, lentils, and grains.
Your 20's are a great time to explore what foods make you feel great and give you energy, and which make you feel deflated and lethargic. Everybody is different, so test things out. Not only will you feel better from eating homemade food with recognizable ingredients, but you will also save money!
2. Stay Fit
Get your blood pumping for a healthy weight and heart. Find a form of exercise that makes you excited to hit the gym, the field, or the pool. Its recommended for healthy young women in their 20’s to get at least 30 minutes a day or 3 hours a week of aerobic activity. You’ll feel better and sleep more deeply by including exercise in your routine. Studies show young women who are active may reduce their risk of breast cancer by 37 percent, osteoporosis by 45 percent and heart disease by 14 percent.
Bonus tip: grab a friend and become “gym buddies” so that you are accountable to someone to show up for that fitness class!
3. Fix your sleep routine
With technology now touching every part of our lives, it's hard to put down the phone for the fear of missing out. Trust me, your sleep is much more important than any social media post. Sleep is when your body gets to rest and rejuvenate itself after a busy day. Poor sleep can have an effect on your body and mind, causing poor cognition and even depression.
Aim to get the National Institute of Health’s suggested 7-8 hours of sleep every night. You can wind down with a healthy routine to relax for bedtime, like taking a warm shower or bath, drinking a cup of herbal tea, or reading a book. Just make sure to not turn on the TV, and sleep with your cell phone in another room, if possible.
4. Practice safe sex
Some women in their 20's begin to experiment with their sexual lifestyle during their 20’s, so it’s important to consider your sexual health and that of your partner(s) before engaging in sexual activities. The best protection against sexually transmitted infections or STIs is the latex condom, but they are not 100% effective. Condoms cannot shield your skin from some STIs, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) that may lead to cervical cancer.
Once you’ve decided to begin a sexual lifestyle, schedule an appointment with your OBGYN. You should have a Pap test during your annual exam with your doctor and screened for infections. Talk to your doctor about birth control options and whether an HPV vaccine is suitable for you. Choose a doctor you trust to give you excellent care and who cares for you as a person, not just a patient, and who can give you advice for healthy habits.
5. Perform a breast exam
Another healthy habit for women in their 20's is to get to know the look and feel of your breasts and learn how to give yourself a monthly breast exam at home. A great time to do it is in the shower waiting for your conditioner to set in. Move the pads of your fingers around your entire breast in a circular pattern, from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and up into armpit area. Check both breasts, feeling for any lumps, thickening, or hardened knots.
If you notice any changes, contact your healthcare provider. At the age of 25, your chances of getting breast cancer are less than 1 in 1,000, but it’s important to get in the habit of checking your breasts monthly.
6. Pap test and pelvic exam
Annual pelvic exams and Pap tests are essential for forming healthy habits for women in their 20's. A pelvic exam allows your healthcare provider to examine your cervix and vagina and to get a sense of the health of your uterus. Your healthcare provider might also look for signs of infections. The Pap test screens for cervical cancer. If your results are negative, it should be done every 2-3 years.
Get An Annual Exam At Metro OBGYN
It’s essential to be proactive and take control of your health as a young woman in her 20’s. Our healthcare professionals are here to give you the best gynecological care in a caring, compassionate, and confidential environment. Your provider is here to help empower you by offering guidance to promote wellness and healthy gynecological habits for a lifetime.
Metro OBGYN is a leading Twin Cities obstetrics and gynecologist office featuring four locations that service East Metro-area residents. Visit your provider at Metro OBGYN to start seeing the benefits of yearly well women check-ups. While things may change in healthcare, one thing is for sure—you should schedule your annual exam today!