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Tips for Staying Healthy

Good health comes from a combination of factors –  eating well, staying active, not smoking, limiting alcohol use – and through the broader social and economic factors that affect your well-being.

Many diseases and conditions affect women differently than men, as well as some medications and treatments. Social factors – such as employment, income, education and relationships – also affect women’s health. But sometimes life’s challenges make it hard to take care of ourselves. Juggling family, work, school and other demands can make it difficult to put our health needs first.

Tips to help you achieve better health

Knowing where to go and how to get what you need out of the health system can help you be an equal partner in your care.

  • Make sure you have Medical Services Plan health insurance coverage if you are a resident of British Columbia to access public health care services.
  • Find a primary care provider (e.g., family doctor, nurse practitioner).
  • Ask your healthcare provider questions about your symptoms, condition or treatment and if they might be different in women than men.
  • Ask for an interpreter to attend your healthcare appointments if you need one.
  • Look for women-centered health services, such as BC Women's, that provide a woman-oriented approach to health issues.

Visit Navigating the health care system for more information on these topics.

‎The Internet is an important source of health information. Ensure that the information is accurate, up-to-date and trustworthy:

  • Start your search at a reliable Canadian-based health information database site like Healthlink BC, College of Family Physicians of Canada or the Public Health Agency of Canada.
  • Look for government, hospital or other non-profit educational (e.g. Heart & Stroke Foundation) or medical organizations (e.g. Society of Obstetricians & Gynecologists of Canada) web sites.
  • Check to see if the information is current (less than 3 years old).
  • Check to see if the website uses research articles in medical journals or other research databases to back up its health information.

Visit Navigating the health care system for more information on evaluating health info and resources.


Our health is the result of the complex interaction between:

  • where and how we live, work, study and play - these are where we spend our time and they create the conditions for our daily lives
  • our social and ‎economic resources - people with more resources tend to have better health
  • the physical environment - it is difficult to be healthy when the water is not safe to drink, the air is filled with smoke, or the land is too contaminated to grow food
  • our genetic endowment - we each come with a set of genes that will shape our lives but whether they lead to health or illness is not always inevitable; there are things we can do to reduce risk or enhance wellbeing.
Knowing this means that we need to each recognize that there are actions we can take to limit our risk of exposure to unsafe or unhealthy conditions like air pollution but there are also limits to how much we can protect ourselves or our families. Some health problems have to be addressed as a community.

Eating a balanced diet helps you feel and function better. Canada's Food Guide recommends you eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, some whole grains, and milk and meat or their alternatives.

  • Limit your intake of saturated fats, sugar and salt.
  • Eat a wide variety of foods from the different food groups.

Visit Eating well for more information.


‎Exercising reduces stress levels, keeps your heart healthy and helps you manage your weight.

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends adolescents (10-18 years) get 60 minutes a day and adults (19+ years) get 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity in 10-minute bouts.

  • Participate in aerobic activity like running, dancing, brisk walking or team sports to keep your heart healthy.
  • Incorporate weight or resistance training into your activity 2 times a week to build strong muscles and bones.
  • Find exercise that meets your needs, budget, preferences and fits your lifestyle.

Visit Physical activity for more info.

Being resilient in the face of life’s challenges requires good mental and emotional health. Follow these tips to help your mental health flourish: 
  • Learn to identify and manage your stress.
  • Get enough sleep to recharge your body and brain.
  • Develop and maintain strong supportive relationships with family and friends.
  • Connect with other women. Talk about important issues, share how you cope with life's joys and stresses; celebrate being a woman.

  • Strive for balance between your work, family responsibilities, taking care of yourself and doing things you enjoy.
  • Seek professional help to cope with anxiety, depression and self-harming thoughts. 
  • Find trusted friends or health professionals to talk with about difficult subjects, like relying on alcohol too much to cope or having an abusive partner or tough work conditions. Talking to someone can help us start to get better.

Practicing safer sex will help you maintain healthy sexual relationships.

  • Use condoms or other barriers to stop the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STI) during oral, anal or vaginal sex.
  • Get tested for STIs with each new sexual partner
  • choose low-risk sexual activities such as hugging, massage or masturbation.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider to find the right contraception for you to protect yourself from an unplanned pregnancy.
  • Get emergency contraception (Plan B or morning after pills) if your contraception fails or you have unprotected sex.
  • See your healthcare provider if you experience itching, burning sensations, pain or other discomfort in and around your vagina and uterus.
Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy body weight will have a positive impact on your pregnancy.  You can improve your own and your baby’s health by:
  • taking a multivitamin with 0.4 mg to 1.0 mg of folic acid if you are trying to get pregnant and up until you stop breastfeeding
  • visiting your health care provider regularly throughout your pregnancy
  • eating a balanced, nutritious diet
  • getting regular, moderate exercise
  • finding ways to reduce your stress levels
  • getting enough sleep
  • avoiding alcohol and tobacco
Visit Pregnancy & Parenting for more  info.

Women smoke for many reasons, but since tobacco is an addictive substance, once you start, it can be hard to stop. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable deaths in Canada.

You gain health benefits as soon as you stop smoking.

Get help to quit smoking.


Drinking large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis impacts your health and well-being. Alcohol affects women differently than men. Canada’s low risk alcohol drinking guidelines recommend women drink no more than:

  • 2 drinks per day
  • 10 drinks per week
  • 3 drinks at any one time.
There is no known safe use of alcohol during pregnancy.
Get help if you are concerned about your drinking habits. 

‎Relationships filled with threats, control and violence harm our health and mental well-being. Relationship violence is a common experience for many women.

  • Get help if you are experiencing violence or abuse from a partner, family member or other individual, have been injured or fear for your safety.
Call an emergency or victim support line:

Take action to keep yourself and your children safe. 

Visit Violence & Sexual Assault for more info.

‎Finding cancer early helps you to get the treatment you need to improve your health.

BC Cancer recommends you:

  •  Get a pap test to check for cervical cancer every 3 years if you are between the ages of 25 and 69.
  • Have a mammogram done every 2 years starting at age 50 to screen for breast cancer.
  • Get a fecal immunochemical test every two years to screen for colon (bowel) cancer if you are between the ages of 50-74.
Talk with your healthcare provider about your risks for ovarian, skin and other cancers.Visit Cancer Screening & Prevention for more info.

Find out your risk of developing osteoporosis by getting screened and talking with your doctor.

Canadian Osteoporosis Guideline recommendations:
  • Take recommended Vitamin D supplements.
  • Eat foods rich in calcium like milk, milk alternatives and tofu.
  • Get regular exercise including weight-bearing activities like weight training or resistance bands to maintain your bone strength.
  • Get exercise that builds your balance and core stability like tai chi, yoga and other core strengthening exercises.
Visit Bone Health for more info.
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