Having a healthy life is more than getting an annual physical examination. It is about having healthy habits. Some of these healthy habits make common sense. Others seen unnatural, but yet are vitally important.
A healthy life is more than feeling well. It is about living life to the fullest and ensuring you are doing your part to improve both your quality of life and longevity.
Which ones are you missing?
How do you measure up?
Five or more servings of fruits and vegetables. Those that live longer seem to have this simple habit. Common traits included not smoking, drinking in moderation and …
Physical activity. Although many recommendations advocate 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week, consider some other options. 10,000 steps per day — measure with a pedometer or an app for your smartphone. Surprise yourself and see how much you. If you don’t measure, you can’t know. Alternatively, check with your doctor as well, consider the scientifically supported 7-minute workout. Intense but short.
I have the most trouble with maintaining physical activity. As a busy parent and doctor, a typical day in the office is only 20 percent of the recommended 10,000 steps daily. What keeps you going?
Body mass index (BMI). Ideally should be between 20 to 25 to be normal weight. Obesity is considered to be 30 or higher. If over 30, try to simply get under 30 with dietary changes and physical activity. Simply eat less and move more. Easier said than done!
Don’t compare yourself to other people. Unless you are a professional athlete, it isn’t just because you are big boned. How much did you weigh in high school? How much do you weigh now?
Blood pressure: less than 140/90. The silent killer that affects many adults who are completely unaware and risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Have your blood pressure checked annually on your birthday. Checking at the drug store is a reasonable option. Heart disease is the number one killer of all Americans, both men and women. If it is consistently higher than 140/90, see your doctor.
21, 40, 50, and 65: important birthdates.
21: Women should get screened for cervical cancer with a Pap smear.
40: Screening for high cholesterol and diabetes with fasting blood work. A third of adults 65 and older have diabetes. It is predicted children born after 2000 have a 1 in 4 lifetime risk of diabetes.
50: Both men and women should be screened for colon cancer with either annual stool testing (FIT — fecal immunochemical test) or colonoscopy every 10 years. Women should begin breast cancer screening with mammography every 1 to 2 years. Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death for both men and women.
65: Women should be screened for osteoporosis with bone density testing. Men who have smoked more than 10 packs of cigarettes in their lifetime should have a one time screening ultrasound to check for an aortic aneurysm, enlargement of the largest artery in the body.
- Annual influenza vaccine recommended for everyone 6 months and older. Not sure? Read, “The Truth: Vaccine and Immunization Myths, Busted!“
- Td/DTaP vaccine: every 10 years to prevent tetanus and diptheria, the latter vaccine, dTap includes pertussis (whooping cough)
- Meningiococcus: those young adults attending college or joining the military and who will be in dormitories or barracks
- HPV vaccine: those under 25 years old to prevent the human papilloma virus. HPV has a role in cervical cancer, oral cancer, and genital warts. A vaccine that can literally prevent cancer.
- Pneumococcus vaccine: those 65 and older
You may need to see a doctor sooner
If you have a family history of a loved one with diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, or other concerns who may have, check with your doctor. The above guidelines are for those individuals who are considered average risk. You may need to get screening blood work or tests done at an earlier age.
What other important numbers or facts would you include?
Davis Liu is a family physician and is the author of The Thrifty Patient – Vital Insider Tips for Saving Money and Staying Healthy and Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Spend Wisely. He can be reached at his self-titled site, Davis Liu, MD, and on Twitter @DavisLiuMD.