Remember when you were in school and you got your report card? You’d look at the grade and discover how well you had done the past semester. If you did well you received positive reinforcement for your good work. If you didn’t do as well as you wanted, you got feedback on where to improve. Optimal health is just like being in school again. But this time what you’re graded on is risk factors which reflect your lifestyle and health practices.
Risk factors represent data about you and a specific disease that helps health care providers assess your present and future health. Each risk factor is like a piece of a puzzle representing your health..
|Each risk factor that you have increases your chances of prematurely dying. Many risk factors overlap and are common to many diseases. The five most common are:
Other risk factors include:
Lifestyle changes are effective in mitigating most risk factors. That’s why it’s important to identify and regularly check the risk factors that are most important to your optimal health. Meet with your health care provider and review you medical family history as well as your medical profile. Determine what risk factors you should monitor, how you’ll monitor them and how often. This is you’re your optimal health report card. Personalize it and make sure that what you keep score on matters to you and has the biggest impact on your health.When your scores aren’t on the mark make the necessary life style changes to get your life back on track.
Let me explain how keeping score probably saved my life…
Because I have a history of high blood pressure and take medication for it, I regularly check my blood pressure and resting heart rate. One day I notice that my blood pressure was normal but my resting heart rate was higher than normal. My resting heart rate is usually 50-55 but on this day it was 85. This is still in the normal range for most people. But it wasn’t normal for me. While working out later that day I noticed that I became out of breath and tired sooner than usual while running at a slower pace than usual. I checked my heart rate the next morning and it was still in the 80s so I went to see my primary care physician. During the visit we discovered that I had an arterial fibrillation or irregular heart beat. People with A Fib, as it’s called, are at risk of a stroke. The standard protocol is prescribing a blood thinner to reduce this risk. Had I not been keeping score and monitoring my numbers regularly I would have been in a high risk mode for a stroke and not know it. After six months my heart rate returned to normal and I stopped taking blood thinners. But I still keep score by monitoring my resting heart rate. If the A Fib returns I can manage the risk.
Remember normal isn’t optimal. What happens to most people is what is normal. It’s very normal for men to have a heart attack by 72 and women by 76. Neither is optimal. To live a longer and healthier life we must move from normal to optimal. Make sure the guidelines you set for yourself in your optimal health score card help you achieve optimal health. Don’t settles for less.
Phil Faris is a consultant, coach, speaker and optimal health advocate.He is the author of Take Command of Your Health and Strategies and Tips for Optimal Health and Anti-Aging. As an active Baby Boomer he is committed to learning about and sharing the latest lifestyle strategies for living a longer, healthier and happier life. He is a firm believer in the saying,”treat your health as if your life depended on it”.
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