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What this week is all about

Women's Health Week is your week to dive into the world of women's health, to learn more and be inspired to make healthier choices. So, take a 'time-out' just for yourself, pop the kettle on and listen to what we've got in store!

Movement for every body

This Women's Health Week, we encourage you to move more and become your version of healthy and strong, whatever that looks like. Every body is unique. Celebrate the freedom, power and feelings that regular physical activity can bring.

It’s not about ‘getting fit, fast’, it’s about being healthy for life.
It’s not about what you can’t do, it’s about what you can.
It’s not about looking good, it’s about feeling good.
It’s not about being the best, it’s about giving it a go.

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Learn how to move more, and the secrets to staying motivated.

We’ve all made grand plans to get fit, but how do you stick to your exercise plan once the novelty has faded and ‘real life’ gets in the way?

Today's Facebook Live video features Tina McCarthy from Wheel Women and Bridget Hustwaite, triple j host and ambassador for Endometriosis Australia, talking with Kylie Royal Meehan from Go Run about staying motivated to keep active.

Quiz | Building better bones

Mighty movement is not just about muscles.

Healthy bones

Under the surface and away from the limelight, your bones are like a dedicated support crew; they’re holding you up, protecting precious body parts and getting you to where you want to go.

Currently, 70% of women in Australia aged 50+ years have osteoporosis (fragile bones that are prone to breaking) or osteopenia (lower bone mass), but there are things you can do at every age to build strong bones and give power to the support crew inside.

Now's the time to learn how.

  1. Bones are a living and ever-changing part of your body.

    We tend to think of our skeleton as hard and lifeless. However, just like your skin, the tissue in your bones is constantly being broken down and renewed. 

    That’s why it’s important to pay attention to bone health, no matter your age. The bones you build as a teenager can have an impact on the health of your bones in your 60s, 70s and beyond!

  2. Midlife is a crucial time for women and their bone health.

    In the first few years after menopause, due to declining levels of the hormone oestrogen, most women go through rapid bone loss (where bone tissue breaks down faster than it is replaced). 

    This process usually slows, but continues throughout the postmenopausal years, and can commonly lead to the condition known as osteoporosis (fragile bones that are prone to breaking).

    But we’re not just at the mercy of our hormones! Building a strong skeleton in your younger years and reducing this bone loss during midlife and beyond, are key.

  3. Swimming and cycling are great forms of physical activity for building strong bones.

    While swimming and cycling have many benefits for your general health (such as reducing your risk of heart disease), building a stronger skeleton is not one of them. 

    In order to build and maintain strong bones, physical activity must be a 'weight-bearing exercise'. That is, exercise that is done on your feet, so you bear your own weight. 

    Brisk walking, jogging, dancing, tennis and basketball are all examples of weight-bearing exercises, which all help to stimulate new bone growth and bone renewal.

  4. Bones become stronger when a certain amount of impact or extra strain is placed on them during exercise.

    Bones grow and rebuild themselves more effectively if the weight-bearing exercise involves a certain amount of impact and physical stress. For example, higher-impact activities that encourage higher levels of bone building include netball/basketball, skipping, tennis, boxing, football and dancing. 

    Activities with moderate levels of bone building include running/jogging, brisk walking, hill/stair climbing and resistance training. Gentler activities such as leisure walking, lawn bowls and tai chi provide lower levels of bone building. 

    Remember, doing some physical activity is better than doing none, so start small and build up gradually.

  5. Astronauts grow taller when they’re in space.

    This amazing fact all comes down to gravity. 

    The weaker forces of gravity in space allow the backbones (vertebrae) to stretch out. As a result the spine becomes longer and the body grows taller, usually by about 5cm. Some astronauts have grown over 7cm in height! However, they return to their original height once back on Earth.

    To a lesser degree, the same thing happens to us on Earth when we go to sleep each night. As we’re lying down, our spine stretches out and, typically, we wake 1cm taller – but shrink back down during the course of the day. 

  6. Calcium is the single most important nutrient for bone health.

    This is a bit of trick question! 

    Calcium is the crucial nutrient for bone health, giving bones their strength and structure. But without enough vitamin D, your ability to absorb calcium is limited. So, they are equally important.

    When we think about the importance of calcium for bones, we need to think about vitamin D too, because their relationship is so intertwined.

  7. The best way to get your vitamin D is through safe sun exposure.

    Almost 40% of women in Australia may be deficient in vitamin D, and this jumps to 58% during winter and spring.

    For most women, the best natural source of vitamin D is the sun.

    Your skin produces vitamin D when it is exposed to UV radiation via sunlight, however it’s very important do this safely, so you don’t increase your risk of skin cancer. 

    Some of our vitamin D (usually 5-10%) can be obtained through foods such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, cheese and egg yolk, but it is difficult to obtain enough vitamin D from diet alone.

    You can find out more about vitamin D in today's article ‘The forgotten nutrient for bone health’.

  8. Your calcium needs change throughout your life.

    Women and girls aged 14-18 years need 1300mg of calcium per day for their rapidly growing skeletons.

    From 18-50 years, the daily required amount decreases slightly to 1000mg (also applies to pregnant and breastfeeding women).

    From 51+ years onwards, it jumps back up to 1300mg/day. This is because with age, our digestive system absorbs less calcium. 

    So, what does 1000 or 1300mg of calcium look like? Go to today’s recipe to read more.

  9. Nice work!

    You got out of 8 correct

Are you getting enough calcium?

Calcium is the building block of strong bones. But almost 75% of women in Australia aren't meeting their daily quota. So, what does the recommended amount of 1000mg of calcium per day look like on a plate?

1 small tub of natural yoghurt (379mg), 1 cup of regular milk (268mg) and 2 slices of cheddar cheese (320mg).

or

1 cup of firm tofu (800mg), ½ cup of steamed silverbeet (80mg), 1 cup of Lebanese cucumber (50mg) and 6 florets of raw broccoli (38mg).

or

1 tin of sardines (300mg), 1 cup of calcium-enriched soy milk (295mg), 6 dried figs (228mg) and 2 cups of tinned chickpeas (180mg).

1000mg per day is the recommended amount for women aged 19-50. For women 51+ years, it is 1300mg per day. Calcium content provided are a guide only. Amounts may vary depending on products and cooking methods.

Calcium-rich recipe

As well as ensuring you eat enough calcium, Jean Hailes naturopath Sandra Villella says it's also important to be aware that too much caffeine, alcohol or salt in your diet can all increase calcium loss from the body, especially if your calcium intake is low.

To help you reach your calcium goals today, Ms Villella and Marley Spoon have created this calcium-rich dish with the health of your skeleton in mind.

With the bone-building boosts of kale, spiced chickpeas and a tangy yoghurt and tahini dressing, this Roast cauliflower salad is an easy and delicious way to bring your A-game to your frame.

On the clock

How much do you need to move to be healthy?

The Australian government guidelines recommend that people aged 18-64 should:

  • do any physical activity, as it’s better than doing none. If you currently do no physical activity, start by doing some, and gradually build up to the recommended amount
  • be active on most, preferably all, days of the week
  • each week:
    • accumulate 150-300 minutes (2½-5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity, OR 
    • 75-150 minutes (1¼-2½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, OR
    • an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities
  • do muscle-strengthening activities at least two days every week.

Brisk walking, cycling and social tennis are examples of moderate intensity physical activities. They are activities where you can talk and hold a conversation, but not sing.

Vigorous intensity physical activities have you huffing and puffing, and working up a sweat. Examples include basketball, boxing, netball, football and CrossFit.

It all adds up

One of the biggest challenges that many women face is fitting physical activity into an already busy schedule. So instead of adding another item to your ‘to-do’ list, Jean Hailes hormone specialist Dr Sonia Davison suggests building it into your day.

It all adds up - get off the bus early and walk

This way of moving more is called ‘incidental’ physical activity.

  • Catching the bus or tram? Get off one or two stops earlier and walk the rest of the way
  • Elevator or stairs? Sneak in some extra steps
  • Waiting for the kettle to boil or the printer to print? Turn waiting time into active time. Stretch, do star jumps, squats or jog on the spot
  • Catching up with a friend? Suggest a walk around the park and then coffee.

Get creative, or set a weekly goal. Whatever you do, make an active decision to move more every day.

Building better body image

Studies have shown that poor body image can stop some women from being active. So how can you see yourself in a more positive light? Jean Hailes psychologist Gillian Needleman points us in the right direction.

Looking for activities for your workplace or event?

We’ve got you covered. It's time to make a move and be more active.

Moving more at work

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A gift for you

Share the care! Spread the message of good health this week by downloading this e-Card as our gift, and sharing it with friends on your social media channels. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #WomensHealthWeek.

Join the action

There are more than 2800 events happening around the country for Women’s Health Week. Join the action and search our Events page to find an inspiring event near you.

Extra reading and resources

Want more? Here's your booster dose of healthy reading!

Wholegrain heroes

Along with moving more, having a balanced diet is crucial for both health and happiness. But many so-called ‘weight loss’ diets encourage you to cut out certain foods and food groups. We look at wholegrains and why they are worthy of a place on your plate.

Read more

The power of positive change

Is there something you do (or don't do) that you would like to change right now, but don't know how to make it happen? Learn helpful tips on how to break unhelpful habits – and make good ones stick!

Get started

Love what you’re reading?

Jean Hailes for Women's Health is the national organisation that proudly presents Women's Health Week every year in September. Subscribe to our email updates and you'll receive a monthly wrap-up of women's health articles, the latest research, recipes, videos and more.

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