You've probably already memorized the mantra for maintaining a fit and healthy body: Eat well-balanced meals and stick with a regular exercise regimen. But those aren't the only smart moves you can make to ensure a long, enjoyable life. To help guide you, we've focused on the four most important choices every woman needs to make wisely, plus four smaller decisions that also can have a big effect on your health.
1. Choosing a doctor
Listen to word of mouth. Doctors' reputations—good or bad—are usually dead-on, so if a friend or co-worker raves about her gynecologist, consider that a valuable recommendation. Once you've asked around for the name of a good doc, make sure he or she is part of your health insurance plan. (Most plans make it easy to search by doctor's name on their Web sites, but always follow up with a phone call to the physician's office to be sure he or she is still a provider, since doctors leave and rejoin plans frequently.)
Be sure they're board-certified. Board certification ensures a doctor has completed training in a specialty area and has passed an examination testing his knowledge within his particular field. Also, board-certified physicians have to get recertified every six to 10 years, depending on their specialty, to make sure their knowledge stays up-to-date. To find out if your physician is board-certified, contact the American Board of Medical Specialties at (866) ASK-ABMS or do a search at abms.org.