The Importance of Preventative Health Practices
There are many daily habits you can nurture to stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Eating well, staying active, drinking enough water, and getting a good night’s sleep are some of the most common ones — but while those healthy habits are important for general health, there are other important steps to take to ensure you remain healthy in the long term.
Especially if you’re prone to other health issues, are living with chronic illness, or even have a family history of illness or injury, you may not be able to prevent or remedy some issues if you only focus on basic healthy habits.
Apart from common good habits, many people may not realize that preventative health also includes regular visits to the doctor, tracking changes in body and mood, and, most of all, balancing physical health with mental wellbeing, as they go hand in hand.
Focusing too much on one preventative health practice over the other may be detrimental to your holistic health, especially in ways that the most common habits cannot remedy. By being proactive and intentional in preventative health, however, you can not only find and address bigger issues early, but potentially even prevent them in the first place.
Benefits of Preventative Care
Preventative care can mean fewer health issues as you age. Furthermore, you may be able to potentially relieve symptoms of health concerns that run in the family. Good preventative health habits also involve more than a single checkup with a doctor every few months, only adjusting your diet when you’re feeling sluggish, or taking days off only when you’re feeling burnt out. Effective preventative health requires being proactive. You need to establish good long-term habits and an all-around healthy lifestyle to reap the best benefits.
Improves Long-term Health
As preventative health isn’t a one-and-done process, the commitment to long-term healthy habits naturally results in potential long-term health benefits, both big and small. Some of these potential long-term health benefits include, but are not limited to:
- Lower blood pressure;
- Improved weight management;
- Improved bone and joint health;
- Greater life expectancy;
- Decreased likelihood of chronic conditions with age;
- Increased independence with advanced age;
- Healthier skin, teeth, hair, and nails.
Adopting a long-term healthy lifestyle may also result in longer life, in general, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Studies go to show that leading a healthy life comes with myriad overall benefits. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that preventative health, in general, should not be viewed as a “cure” for physical and mental ailments, nor should its tenets be used to replace medical advice from doctors. Instead, view holistic, healthy habits as additional tools for your overall health when combined with professional medical advice.
Prevents You From Racking Up Medical Debt
Not only does preventative care help lead to an overall healthier lifestyle, but it can also contribute to reduced lifetime medical costs. This is due to the general idea that by eating well, staying active, and keeping up to date on vaccinations and regular doctor’s visits, you will be less likely to develop complications from health issues, whether they be chronic or otherwise.
Specifically, a report from the National Library of Medicine discussing the overall economic benefits of preventative healthcare states: “Lifestyle modifications that include healthy eating, physical activity, and nonsmoking, along with compliance with other clinical preventive services, can be cost-effective strategies to moderate the development of chronic conditions.”
Encourages You To Live an Active Life
Due in part to the role of preventative health in holistic wellness, those who are focused on it may be more likely to lead a naturally active life, especially when you consider all the ways to be more active organically in day-to-day activities.
For example, those being proactive with their health may plant their own garden, encouraging both healthy eating as well as extra time spent outdoors. There are also myriad options for increased activity in regards to transportation methods like biking or walking rather than driving.
Additionally, a lack of physical activity has been linked to an increase in chronic conditions, further emphasizing the importance of exercise in a preventative healthcare regimen.
Ways To Practice Preventative Care
There are myriad ways of practicing preventative care, including several “umbrellas” under which preventative health plays an important role. These different parts of preventative health are a good place to start for people who want to be more proactive about their health, or who may be feeling like there’s a gap in their overall health routine.
Mental and Physical Health Screenings and Wellness Checks
As previously mentioned, regular visits to a physician are important. On top of those regular visits, make sure you’re caught up on vaccinations, health screenings, and regular mental health check-ins, even if you aren’t feeling particularly worried about anything. Further examples of regular preventative care steps include, but aren’t limited to:
- Vaccinations, including yearly flu vaccinations;
- Regular checkups with general practitioners, as well as dentists, eye doctors, and gynecologists.
- Contraception and family planning;
- Curating a thorough and detailed family medical history, as well as your medical history for reference;
- Screenings for cancers, including mammograms, colonoscopies, and other annual screenings.
There is a lot of obvious benefit to overall dental health, but it goes further than simply ensuring a white smile and avoiding other oral-related issues like gum disease. Some reports even claim that overall dental health also contributes to heart health. You can especially help maintain teeth and gum health by focusing on a healthy diet, which also contributes to overall health in other areas.
Preventative care focusing on other parts of your body can help to benefit eye and vision health. Preventative care is especially imperative when it comes to eye health, as many eye illnesses result in irreversible damage to vision, or the eye itself.
While most eye-related illnesses occur with older age, some can be exacerbated by things like overall poor health, poor diet, and family history. For example, some studies claim that eating a diet high in antioxidants can help reduce the chance of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), while you’re growing older. While treatments like LASIK are beneficial in improving overall vision, they are unfortunately less effective at addressing overall macular degeneration. As such, it’s important to be aware of your eye health over time to address issues early.
As part of preventative eye care, make regular visits to your eye doctor to:
- Check for vision degeneration whether due to natural changes or underlying causes like cataracts;
- Address onset blurriness or spots in your eyes;
- Generally, track the health of your eyes over time.
From there, doctors can suggest treatments to improve worsening vision, as well as to treat chronic dry eye and other issues that may later evolve into worse symptoms if left unchecked.
While many underlying conditions may lead to weight gain and difficulty in losing weight, in general, preventative care can help a person manage their weight. Weight management helps to keep other parts of your body healthy, as well. For example, a healthy weight can also contribute to eye health, as some studies claim that obesity can ultimately lead to loss of vision overall.
Preventative health includes healthy eating, staying active, and regular physician checkups. If you don’t have underlying conditions and you keep up with preventative health practices, it can help you better manage your weight without additional concerns. At the same time, if you find yourself gaining weight, losing weight, or struggling to lose or keep weight on, it may be a sign of another underlying issue that should be discussed with a doctor.