As part of National Women's Health Week, women are encouraged to make their health a priority in 2012 and take simple steps for a safer and healthier life.

Every day is a day to make healthier choices. To help you or the women you love live healthier, here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Cooper Aerobics Center in McKinney:

Health Check-Ups

Visit a health-care provider and get recommended check-ups, screenings, and vaccinations. Ask your doctor or nurse how you can reduce your risk for health problems.

Healthier Eating

Many people believe that a vegan or vegetarian diet is the ideal way to have a healthy diet. It’s not difficult to move toward a better diet by striving for one to two meatless meals per week, said Dr. Michele Kettles, preventive medicine physician at Cooper Clinic. Think about making the central part of the meal something other than meat such as mushrooms or beans, she said.

Make Time for Exercise

Thirty minutes of exercise at least five days a week is idea. But squeezing in 10 or 20 minutes of exercise — strength training or even a walk around your neighborhood — is good since every minute of exercise counts toward better health.

Manage Stress

Not managing stress can negatively affect your health — both physically and emotionally. Stress can raise your blood pressure and resting heart rate and lead to weight gain. Untreated long-term stress can cause even more medical problems.

Ideally, everyone could benefit from some form of daily meditation and relaxation, but that’s often hard to do, officials at the Cooper Clinic say.

Most people do better with stress management in a guided fashion, whether in a class or by a tape or CD. Practice deep breathing whenever you can, Cooper officials say. This is important especially if you’re having difficulty sleeping. Simple breathing concentration (inhale for 15 seconds and exhale for 15 seconds) will take your mind’s focus off the daily worries and stresses and into a relaxed state, officials at Cooper say.

Get Your Shut-Eye

Ideally, most people need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. People who don’t get enough sleep have higher risk for blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and not achieving weight-loss goals, officials at Cooper say.

Realistically, seven to nine hours is not always possible. The most important thing is to get regular sleep, officials at Cooper say. Going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time will help your body establish a routine. The more you stick to a routine, the better.

Try these sleep tips when you find yourself awake at night:

  • Practice deep breathing. Inhale for 15 seconds and exhale for 15 seconds.
  • Try to avoid television at least 30-60 minutes before bedtime. Especially stimulating shows such as crime mysteries or dramas.
  • Read something…boring. There’s nothing wrong with reading in bed, but again, avoid the stimulating books such as thrillers or mysteries tempting you to keep reading.
  • Keep your room cool, quite and dark. The ideal sleep temperature is 68 degrees.

For more information about Cooper Clinic or to schedule a comprehensive physical exam, call 972.560.2667. For more tips from the CDC, go to http://www.cdc.gov/family/tips/index.htm.