Women's Health: 5 Healthy Resolutions for Women (cont.)

While the trend is changing, too many women don't do valuable resistance training, says Bryant. According to the Mayo Clinic, enhanced muscle mass can not only help better manage weight, it can also improve endurance, maintain the flexibility of joints, and reverse age-related declines in strength, bone density, and muscle mass.

Even very busy women can do resistance training and aerobic exercise, as they do not necessarily require a visit to a fitness center. "If you can't get to the gym, what can you do today to be more active?" asks Saralyn Mark, MD, senior medical adviser for the Office on Women's Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Can it be walking a little bit further in the parking lot, and using the stairs, or raking your leaves?"

"There's a lot you can do with just what is around you," says Mark. "The best part is that you don't have to get into a fancy gym outfit. You can be comfortable and you can do it while you're watching the news."

New Year's Resolution No. 3: Guard Against the Bone Thief

This may not sound like a popular health resolution, but it is a crucial one for women and girls of all ages.

"Many women feel that when they're not babies anymore, they don't have to worry about their bones, but it's quite the contrary."

"A lot of women feel that when they're not babies anymore, they don't have to worry about their bones, but it's quite the contrary," says Taub-Dix. "Watching calcium in your diet even as a young child or teen is very important, because that is the setup for what your bones may look like later on in life."

Osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disease, is major public health threat for 44 million Americans, 68% of whom are women, according to the National Institute of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases. One out of every two women over 50 years old will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in her lifetime.

To help prevent osteoporosis, Taub-Dix suggests getting at least three servings of dairy a day. Healthy sources of dairy include skim milk, low-fat cheeses, and yogurt. There are also nondairy options for calcium, such as canned salmon with bones, dark green vegetables, dried beans, and calcium-fortified juices and cereals. Calcium supplements can also help women meet their recommended daily intake.

Calcium recommendations for women:

  • From age 11 to 24, between 1,200 and 1,500 milligrams daily
  • From age 25 to 50, 1,000 milligrams daily
  • For postmenopausal women 1,000-1,500 milligrams daily if on menopausal hormone therapy
  • For pregnant and breastfeeding women, 1,200-1,500 milligrams daily

Weight-bearing exercises, which use gravity to put pressure on the bones, can also help strengthen bones. Examples include walking, running, aerobics, and dancing. Resistance-training exercises are also valuable as they help enhance muscle mass and bone strength.

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