Spring is upon us … a rebirth of sorts for all in nature. I’ve heard many people comment about how fast the year is going, which of course leads to the inevitable sentiment about how time flies. When we try to maintain healthy lifestyles, short-term realizations of this may include attempts to get to the gym this week but realizing it’s already Friday. Oh well, “there’s always next week.” And who hasn’t heard of (or said), “the diet starts tomorrow”. We are all guilty of believing that we have a lot of tomorrows to count on. The truth is, sometimes we don’t.
I am lucky enough to have had very few health problems. I rarely get sick, almost never go to the doctor, and consider myself in relatively good shape. About two years ago (on a whim) I went to the doctor for a full physical. In addition to the standard office-checkup of my overall health I had a routine blood work panel done. When it came back I was surprised at some of the results.
First of all, though my blood sugar was good, my weight, cholesterol and blood pressure had all crept up a few points. It wasn’t considered high, but the numbers WERE higher than they had been in the past. In addition I discovered I was slightly anemic as well as deficient in Vitamin D. These deficiencies were the likely cause of most of the minor aches, pains and afflictions I had been feeling that I had attributed to getting older. Nothing major or worth complaining about, just things that I had started to notice in myself. Tweaks to my diet and keeping up with routine exercise had a huge impact on how I felt overall. That routine physical brought light to a minor shift in my numbers that could have turned into a much bigger problem. I now schedule one at least every other year in order to monitor those numbers. Most insurance companies will cover physicals once a year. When was the last time YOU had a routine physical?? Oh, and don’t forget to ask your doctor if you are up to date on your immunizations.
In addition to routine physicals and yearly gynecological exams for women, the following standard tests should be on your radar:
Mammograms for Women: Have a baseline done at 45, then have one yearly after 50. If there is breast cancer in your family, have it done earlier and more often.
Dermatology Checkup: Have this done once a year to check for early signs of skin cancer. It doesn’t always come in the form of a mole!
Eye Exam: Get a complete eye exam every few years, especially as you get older as many diseases affect your vision. Make sure you go to an ophthalmologist for a full eye exam, not an optometrist, who will check only your vision. Even if you can “see” well you need to make sure that your eyes themselves are healthy!
Colorectal Exams: Colon cancer can be deadly, and it often goes unnoticed until too late. Although they do not need to be done every year, periodic colonoscopy exams should be performed starting at age 50. Again, if colon cancer runs in your family, get tested earlier and often.
Periodic routine checkups are just as important to maintaining your healthy lifestyle as diet and exercise, so pick up the phone, schedule those exams and be well!