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Girlfriends' Health

Group of women stretching before walkingFriends can offer great support, work out with you, and call your attention to matters you may be ignoring. Here are some tips to help you and your friends stay healthy and safe.

August 1 is National Girlfriends Day. Encourage your friends to be healthy!

Be Active and Eat Healthy

Make healthy choices when you get together with your friends. Find fun ways to get physical activity like walking, dancing, a group exercise class, or swimming. When eating out or cooking at home, be sure to include fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods. Avoid foods and beverages high in calories, saturated fat, and reduce the amounts of sugars and salt in your diet.

Get Preventive Screenings and Care

Friends can tell each other about the importance of getting recommended screenings, which can help find problems early, and help to identify which ones to focus your attention for better health.

Check Your Sexual Health

You and your friends talk about everything…including sex. Share tips on everything from having a healthy pregnancy to preventing sexually transmitted infections. Here are a few tips to help you stay healthy.

  • The most reliable way to avoid a sexually transmitted infection is to not have sex.
  • Mutual monogamy means that you agree to be sexually active with only one person, who has agreed to be sexually active only with you. This is one of the most reliable ways to avoid STDs. It's important to have an honest conversation with your partner.
  • Get tested to be certain you are not infected.
  • If you don't want to get pregnant, use safe and highly effective methods of birth control. If you do want to have a baby, engage in healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant to help ensure a healthier pregnancy and baby.

Skin Cancer is Preventable

More than 9,000 Americans die each year of melanoma , the deadliest kind of skin cancer. The majority of skin cancer is caused by exposure to too much ultraviolet light. Nearly 1 of 3 young non-Hispanic white women ages 16-25 uses indoor tanning each year. Remind your friends that tanned skin is damaged skin and that tanning indoors is not safer than tanning in the sun.

To lower your skin cancer risk, protect your skin from the sun and avoid indoor tanning. Encourage your friends to take these steps:

  • Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  • Wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet rays.
  • Use sunscreen with SPF (sun protection factor) 15 or higher and reapply every two hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.

Quit Alcohol and Tobacco

Encourage your friends to cut down on drinking and to quit smoking. Both can cause health problems. Resources are available for people who are trying to quit or cut down on drinking or give up smoking.

  • Binge drinking (defined for women as consuming four or more drinks on an occasion) and excessive alcohol use increases the chances of breast cancer, heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, and other health problems.
  • Call1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357)—to get information about drug and alcohol treatment in your local community.
  • Quitting smoking [745 KB] has immediate and long-term benefits. You lower your risk for different types of cancer, and don't expose others to secondhand smoke—which causes health problems.
  • Call your state's tobacco quitline (for English speakers, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW [1-800-784-8669]; for Spanish speakers, call 1-855-DÉJELO-YA [1-855-335-3569]) or visit smokefreewomen.

Protect Healthy Relationships and Prevent Violence

Intimate partner violence has significant adverse health consequences. Nearly 1 in 4 women (24%) and 1 in 7 men (14%) have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. This violence and its heavy toll can be prevented. Promoting respectful, nonviolent relationships is key.

If you are, or know someone who is, the victim of intimate partner violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) or contact your local emergency services at 9-1-1.

  • Page last reviewed: July 27, 2015
  • Page last updated: July 27, 2015
  • Content source:
    • National Center for Environmental Health, Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs