Most people try to faithfully follow the owner’s manual for maintaining their car: change the oil every 3000 miles, new oil filter every 50,000 miles, rotate the tires and check their pressure, check the transmission fluid, inspect the brake pads, fill the windshield wiper fluid. Faithful maintenance adds years to the car’s life and prevents unwanted breakdowns at inconvenient times.
Sadly, many people don’t do the same thing for the most valuable machine – their own body. Preventive maintenance of our bodies, along with regular checkups, can add years of life and prevent unwanted physical breakdowns, too.
Here’s an owner’s manual of maintenance procedures and checkup schedules for the human body.
- Maintain ideal body weight – to prevents and/or reduce lots of serious health problems including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and cancers of all kinds.
- Maintain an exercise program – include weight training, cardio, stretching and balance exercises. This works to prevent the same problems as keeping a healthy weight, plus it helps prevent depression and social isolation while making strong muscles and bones.
- Maintain a well-balanced, controlled-calorie diet – high in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and low in concentrated calories, cholesterol and saturated- and trans-fats. This lifestyle prevents 70% of all cancers as well as maintaining heart and brain health.
- Maintain a regular schedule of sleep and waketimes – which helps to prevent heart disease, strokes and many accidental injuries.
- Maintain a no-smoking, no-alcohol lifestyle – which improves both heart and lung health while preventing 90% of accidents leading to death and/or serious injury.
Regular check-up schedule according to the calendar:
- If you are healthy you need the following screening tests for cancer: yearly mammograms for women from age 40 onward (start at age 50 for low-risk females); colorectal screening for men and women from age 50 onward, and repeated according to findings and level of family risk; yearly test for cervical cancer (Pap test) for women starting at either 3 years after becoming sexually active or from age 21 onward. Cancers are best treated when discovered early.
- If you are diabetic you need to have an exam every three months (especially for poorly controlled diabetics), and a foot exam every year. Complications are best avoided when found and treated early.
- If you have had a heart attack you need to have a cardiovascular exam every six months, in addition to taking one aspirin a day plus beta blockers (and ACE inhibitors if you have high blood pressure). All of these can reduce your heart attack risks by up to 50%.
- If you have high blood pressure you need an exam every six months to update lab work and monitor the effectiveness of your medication. High blood pressure is called “the silent killer” and can only be recognized by checking. In addition, high blood pressure medications have side effects, which can also only be recognized by checking.
- If you have chronic kidney disease you need an exam every 3 to 4 months to check for diabetic and blood pressure control and for medication effectiveness and side effects. Kidney failure and dialysis can often be avoided by discovering and treating problems early.
- If you are pregnant and your initial ultrasound detects any abnormalities, go ahead and accept the Level II ultrasound. It may be more expensive, but it will detect heart and other organ problems for early intervention.
Just like you would care for your automobile, a regular maintenance and check-up schedule for your body can prolong the useful life of the magnificent human machine and can prevent untimely, costly and disastrous breakdowns.