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Team Effort Encouraged for Women's Health

Working together can help women eat right and exercise more. (Amber Collier)
Working together can help women eat right and exercise more. (Amber Collier)
May 16, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Women are being urged to make their own health a priority during National Women's Health Week. This week marks the 18th annual observance led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Michelle Williams is a singer, and former member of the pop group Destiny's Child, and is now an ambassador for the agency's Office on Women's Health. She says women tend to ignore themselves because they're so busy taking care of everyone else and balancing that with a career.

She hears other women say they're too busy to work out or eat correctly, but she encourages everyone to get creative.

"It takes 15 to 20 minutes," she says. "It could be while you're making dinner - say, while the spaghetti is boiling. How many minutes does it take for spaghetti to boil? Well, you can do some calf raises, some jumping jacks with the kids or something."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 60 percent of U.S. adult women are overweight, and of those about a third are considered obese.

Williams says women often work better in teams. She says to make your friend, sister, mother or co-workers help you hold yourself accountable.

"You know how we get on the phone and you're talking to your sister or your BFF and you're like, 'Girl, did you hear what happened?'" She asks. "So now we can add, 'Girl, did you get that workout in? Did you eat that salad you said you were going to eat?' I would say, start adding that to the conversation."

Jill Wasserman is a health-education specialist for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services who is heading up Women's Health Week. She feels that staying at a healthy weight is a good start, but there's more to it than that.

"We really remind women to make their health a priority, and we want them to go have a dialogue with their doctor, get active, eat healthy, pay attention to their mental health and avoid unhealthy behaviors such as smoking," Wasserman explains.

Wasserman says mental health and physical health are closely connected. Poor emotional health can lead to overeating, headaches, weakened immune systems and other ailments.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IL