The 8 Best Things Every Woman Can Do For Her Health In Her 20s

When you are young, it's easy to feel alive and completely invincible. However, there are still so many things a woman can do for her health in her 20s. Sure, it might feel like nothing can destroy you. Yet, so much can (and will) happen over time. Anything you do today can influence your life, health, and well-being tomorrow. And it's totally up to you to determine how that goes down.

Of course, this doesn't mean you shouldn't live it up. Being healthy in your 20s isn't about super strict rules and hiding from the world. It's about treating your body well while still having the time of your life. I mean, let's face it: when are you ever going to be twenty-something again? This period of your life can be a memorable one, as long as you let it.

It all comes down to knowing your boundaries and respecting your body. This encompasses everything from the habits you develop to the food that you eat. It also involves cultivating worthwhile friendships during your 20s. Hello, mental and social health!

The sooner you begin paying attention to these aspects, the more likely you'll carry them throughout life. You've got this, lady.

1. Use sun protection

Whether you're on vacation or running errands, it's essential to protect your skin from the sun. Over time, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage the skin, increasing the risk for skin cancer. And when this type of cancer is the most common in the United States, it's certainly worth thinking about it.

UV rays can also up the risk for immune system issues and cataracts, an eye condition that messes with vision. Because these diseases take years to develop, starting prevention during yours 20s will make a difference.

Make it a habit to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30-50. Experts suggest ignoring higher SPF ratings; they don't necessarily offer extra protection. When used correctly, SPF 30-50 works perfectly.

Wearing wide-brimmed floppy hats and sunglasses can also make a huge difference. Both accessories offer awesome protection from the sun, proving that they're equal parts fashionable and functional. Were you looking for another reason to go accessory shopping? Well, now you have one!

2. Drink water... lots of it

Gulping down H2O is essential for your body's normal functions. It's also important for healthy skin and feeling energized. Basically, your cells are thirsty whenever you are.

Drinking enough water also benefits the way your body excretes waste. It's exactly what your body needs to keep things moving along. By staying hydrated, you'll lower chances for kidney stones and urinary tract infections (double ouch).

By forming healthy water consumption habits in your 20s, you'll be more likely to practice it for life. Wondering how to stay hydrated? Keep a glass or bottle with you at all times. Opt for water instead of soda or juice at restaurants. Try fruit-infused waters if you need some flavor. You can even download hydration apps that will help you track your water intake.

3. Get physical

We've heard it all before: exercise is good for us. However, I think we can all agree that feeling motivated is tricky. This is especially true when you have an endless to-do list of things to do and places to be. Trust me, I know how it is.

But let's face it. Regularly working out during our 20s will prime our bodies for a future of awesomeness. Sure, we may feel pretty great now. But that doesn't mean it will last forever. Exercising will ensure that you continue to feel excellent even as you age.

Find a workout that fits your style. It can be anything from walking to work to practicing yoga in the morning. Every little bit counts. You'll reduce your risk for heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer's... just to name a few.

4. Eat a well-rounded diet

Developing a healthy relationship with food is one of the best things a 20-something-year-old-lady can do for herself. It's the fuel that our body runs on.

Moderation is everything. While it's always a good idea to stock up on fruits and vegetables, a cookie here and there won't hurt. It's all about indulging in a way that works for your lifestyle and specific health needs.

Fortunately, with the right approach, you can incorporate healthy foods in a way that you love. For example, try making cookie recipes with chia seeds or coconut oil. Notorious for getting that afternoon slump? Try snacking on berries or avocado toast for a dose of deliciousness.

Sure, getting together a healthy dish requires a little extra effort. However, you will notice a difference. Your body will thank you, too.

5. Drink alcohol in moderation

If you choose to consume alcohol, practice mindful drinking. It's not uncommon for weekend nights and dates to involve a few drinks. And while the occasional happy hour beer doesn't hurt, heavy alcohol consumption can do a number on your body.

Over time, excessive alcohol intake can lead to liver damage, inflammation of the pancreas, and cancer of various parts of the body. It can also meddle with daily responsibilities and attempts at adulting (or something like it).

Your best bet is to consume no more than one drink per day, as recommended for women by the CDC. When you do drink, make sure you do so in a safe environment with people you trust. By forming these habits in your 20s, you'll set the tone for safer partying when you're older.

6. Limit or stop smoking cigarettes

By now, we all know that cigarettes aren't the greatest thing for our bodies. These addictive little guys are associated with everything from heart disease to lung cancer. They can also cause smell and taste loss, making it difficult to enjoy all of the delicious eats out there.

When a smoker quits, changes to the body happen almost immediately. The Huffington Post created this awesome infographic demonstrating just how much can happen when cigarettes are ditched. It's pretty insane.

Of course, quitting smoking isn't an easy task. Don't hesitate to seek out a solid support system to help you through it. From cigarette quitting apps to support groups, there are so many resources out there. The journey will be difficult, but you'll do wonders for your body and the life ahead.

7. Practice safe sex

This is one of those things that is important during any age no matter how old you are. But when more than 20 percent of STD/STI diagnoses are found in women ages 15-24 each year, according to the American Sexual Health Association, it's something worth talking about.

As you explore the world and gain more freedom, physical relationships become more likely. While it's extremely healthy to explore your sexuality, it's always wise to do so safely. Use protection and ask questions — you deserve to get to know the person you're getting intimate with.

By doing so, you'll limit the chances of things like unwanted pregnancies, STDs, and HIV. Remember, all it takes is one time to change everything.

8. Form solid friendships

Having support and being loved is so crucial for overall health. It's exactly what our mental and social health needs to flourish. Without valuable relationships with other people, other aspects of health can decline over time.

Yours 20s is an excellent time to figure out who the "real" friends are. By now, it's likely that you've met so many people. But who are the tried-and-true BFFs that you can trust?

Focus on cultivating these relationships. Don't waste your time on friends who don't inspire you to be better every day. The more you get rid of toxic relationships, the more space you'll have for valuable ones.

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