Preventative health is an approach to wellness that aims to prevent medical issues before they arise, rather than treating sickness only after symptoms occur. By implementing a strategy for maintaining good health and receiving preventative care from a physician, patients can significantly reduce the risk of medical problems over time. Research has shown that this approach is more effective, more efficient and can also reduce the cost of healthcare as well.
So, what does preventative health look like?
While each person’s situation is unique, there are some fundamental steps that everyone can take to ensure wellness. The tips below provide a basic framework for implementing your own preventative health strategy.
Your primary care physician is your most vital resource for preventative care. By seeing your doctor annually, or on a schedule advised by the physician, you’ll receive ongoing health monitoring and individualized advice based on your health, medical history and other patient-specific factors. Additionally, when symptoms arise, your physician will be better-equipped to provide the right treatment.
Another key component of preventative care is medical screenings and tests. These can vary depending on your age, sex and medical history, but some examples include: blood pressure monitoring, cholesterol tests, diabetes screening and cancer screenings, just to name a few. Additionally, doctors can provide vaccinations to prevent sickness from flu, measles, polio, meningitis or other diseases.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that “Positive physical health habits can help decrease your stress, lower your risk of disease, and increase your energy.” Conversely, sedentary habits have been linked to “shorter lifespan and a wide range of medical problems.” Maintaining a more active lifestyle can help prevent adverse medical issues and improve your chances for good health. Brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling and dancing are all good places to start.
The foods you eat can have a profound impact on your long-term health. So it pays to make every meal as nutritious as possible. The NIH recommends cutting back on salt-heavy snacks and meals and incorporating fresher foods into your diet, such as vegetables, poultry, fish and lean meat (rather than canned, smoked or processed). Additionally, avoid food with added sugars and opt for foods with whole grains to get more fiber.
The amount of sleep you get—and the quality of that sleep—can have a tremendous impact on your health, not to mention your energy levels and cognitive abilities during the day. The CDC recommends at least 7 hours of sleep every night for adults (ages 18-60).
Prolonged stress can take a toll on our bodies in ways you might not realize. By eliminating the sources of your stress, you can lower your risk for serious medical conditions, such as heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and depression.
Find out which preventative health steps are most important for you. Make an appointment at Maryland Primary Care by calling 301-277-3555.
We also provide our patients with a free app that analyzes your cardiovascular risk and creates a personalized plan of activities and diet for a healthier lifestyle.