As a physician, the first thing I encourage everyone to do is get a complete physical examination from their primary physician (if you are planning to start any new exercise program or change in your diet, it is a must). The next thing I encourage everyone to do is get a physical exam annually.
Men should discuss with their primary physician the need for a rectal exam and a prostate exam, especially if there is a family history of rectal, colon, or prostate cancer. In our recent discussion, NYC Urologist, Dr. Jonathan Vapnek believes that “the PSA [prostate specific antigen] test still gives important information when taken into consideration with patient’s symptoms and family history“.
Mammogram and gynecological exam
Women should get an annual mammogram once between age 45 to 54 and again earlier if there is a family history of breast cancer (or if they wish to). Women should also learn how to examine their own breasts (although some may disagree with self-breast-examination, many women are the first to discover a breast mass).
Women should get a gynecological exam (which includes a PAP smear). Please discuss with your primary physician at what age this should be done; however, be advised that if you are sexually active, you should have already gotten at least one gynecological exam.
a colonoscopy can save your life
Colonoscopy, I highly recommend for everyone; again, please discuss with your primary physician at what age you should get your first colonoscopy (also keep in mind that if there is a family history of colon cancer, you will need to get your first colonoscopy earlier than the average person).
So, once you have looked after these basics, you will know your weight, your blood pressure and a few other handy vital statistics. An unhealthy weight will affect the results of many of your baseline values.
6 values to know from your physical examination
- Your blood pressure may be elevated.
- Your waist size may be high.
- Your blood glucose level may be elevated.
- Your cholesterol level may be high (some people may have an elevated cholesterol level even when not overweight-this may be hereditary).
- Your oxygen saturation may be low.
- Your BMI (body mass index) will be high; along with this, your body-fat percentage will also be high.
knowledge is key to improving your health
The normal baselines that you should aim for as you begin your journey to a healthier you:
- BP: < or = 120/70
- Waist size: men < 40 inches and women < 35 inches; and waist-to-hip ratio [WHR] (<0.90 for men and < 0.85 for women)
- Saturation: 95-100%
- Blood glucose level: fasting level of 100mg/dL
- Cholesterol levels: LDL should be < 100mg/dL; and Triglycerides should be <150mg/dL
- BMI: 18.5-24.9 (your BMI may be misleading if you are muscular); that’s why you should know your body-fat percentage (normal varies depending on your gender).
Keep in mind there are many more values that are affected by your weight; however, I chose these six as the ones that have the most significant impact on your health. Please do not forget to visit a dentist (your teeth are also important to your health).
unhealthy habits you may need to change
If you smoke, consider quitting; the health benefits of quitting are numerous.
While a glass of red wine occasionally may be beneficial, examine closely your relationship with alcohol. If you find that you cannot function without alcohol, you may need the help of a counselor.
ILLICIT DRUGS ARE NOT BENEFICIAL IF YOUR GOAL IS A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE.