New Survey Challenges the Theory That Women Strive to Take Care of Everyone Except Themselves

Tuesday, November 6, 2007 General News
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National Women's Health Resource Center's Annual WOMEN TALK Survey Reveals

Women Have Positive Attitudes Toward a Healthy Lifestyle,

But Want a Better Understanding of Small Steps to Improve Health

RED BANK, N.J., Nov. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The not-for-profit National Women's Health Resource Center's (NWHRC) new third annual Women Talk survey has uncovered a newfound sense of self-empowerment in regard to women's health and their priorities. An overwhelming ninety-four percent of women state that "Making time for myself is one of the best ways I can help to take care of me and my family" and seventy-five percent of women went a step further to say that "Taking care of myself is my top priority."

"So often women are focused on taking care of others, so we found it surprising that three out of four women state that taking care of themselves is their number one priority," stated Elizabeth Battaglino Cahill, RN, executive vice president of the NWHRC. "We're pleased to see that women are finally granting themselves permission to take care of their health first, so that they can better take care of their loved ones."

The survey, released today and conducted by Harris Interactive, is the third in a series of research by the NWHRC that explores women's attitudes and perceptions toward their health.

Attitudes Toward a Healthy Lifestyle

According to the survey, women believe living a healthy lifestyle is important and worthwhile. The survey provided women with a list of descriptive terms for living a healthy lifestyle and the majority of words chosen were positive rather than negative. Respondents describe living a health lifestyle as important (61%), worthwhile (59%), essential (44%) and even fun (23%). Very few women identified a healthy lifestyle as difficult (11%) or boring (2%).

The majority of women in the survey recognize that taking care of themselves is not just good for themselves, but beneficial to their families. Nearly all women (98%) agree with the statement "Living a healthy lifestyle is important both for my own health as well as the health of my family." Interestingly, African-American and Hispanic women are more likely than Caucasian women to recognize the impact they can have on their health and the health of their families, with the majority of African-American (57%) and Hispanic women (54%) strongly agreeing with the previous statement (verses 39% percent of Caucasian women).

Evaluation of Overall Health

On the whole, women in the survey rate their physical and mental health to be good to excellent. On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being "excellent" and 1 being "very poor," women rate their physical health a 7.3 and their mental health at an 8.5. However, older women rate their physical health on par with younger women and actually rate their mental health higher at a 9.1 verses 7.9 for women aged 18-39.

When asked what being healthy means to them, women most often state "not having any chronic diseases" (47%) and "being physically active" (43%). However, minority women are more likely to define good health differently. African-American and Hispanic women cite "being happy" as a key indicator of good health (43% each) verses thirty-three percent of Caucasian women. Additionally, spiritual well-being is of particular relevance to African-American women (44% verses 26% of Hispanic and 25% of Caucasian women).

Motivators and Barriers

Women in the survey believe that their health and lifestyle habits are very or somewhat healthy physically (72%), mentally (85%) and spiritually (70%). Older women, those 60 and over, are more likely to report very healthy habits regarding mental health than younger women (51% verses a range of 21%-38% among younger women).

Overall, wom

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