“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a famous saying attributed to Benjamin Franklin after visiting Boston and observing the city’s fire prevention methods. He wanted Philadelphia to adopt similar prevention / safety measures. Prevention saves property loss and lives. For many healthcare institutions today, prevention is the cornerstone of their existence.
Preventive health care is important because helps people stay healthy and avoid illness, injury, and possible early death. Preventive care can include:
- Safety in everyday activities
- Regular check-ups early disease detection
- Immunizations/vaccines to protect against diseases like COVID-19, measles, and chicken pox
- Screenings for vision, hearing, dental care, and cancer
- identifying potential problem areas to be mindful of
Benjamin Franklin was inspired by seeing potential problems before they occur, a rapid response system when a problem did arise, and minimization of damage for difficult to control issues. While Franklin was a Founding Father of the United States, a politician, writer, scientist, inventor, and printer, he also gave us the foundation for prevention in the maintenance of wellness. Just ask yourself that if you suddenly became ill with a life shortening illness, what would you worry about the most? This is why you should invest in prevention. Consider the following recommendations for supporting wellness:
1. Practice good hygiene: While this may sound like a “no brainer” for many, everyday people leave a restroom without washing their hands. Think about that for a moment . . . yuck. Everyone should wash their hands regularly with soap and water, especially before eating or preparing food. For the best explanation of why we should be using “soap + water” regularly, I suggest watching this entertaining (and educating) video by Alton Brown, food television personality and producer of “Good Eats”.
Additionally, good hygiene includes covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing. Also, avoid close contact with individuals who are sick. Remember germs are not like mosquitoes that buzz around looking for a good host. They are spread by touch and being in close proximity to someone with a contagious “bug” that facilitates exposure, and contamination.
2. Schedule regular check-ups with your healthcare provider: Ever have a health issue that you were certain was “serious” suddenly go away all by itself? This happens all the time in healthcare. Most consumers associate the absence of symptoms as the absence of problems. Sadly, that’s not true. There are many “silent” issues out there. Regular physical exams, dental check-ups, and eye exams help find “silent” issues you would want to address sooner rather than later.
3. Stay up to date with vaccinations: Recommended vaccinations vary by age, risk, and specific health conditions. Recommended vaccinations are best from your healthcare provider who considers your beliefs and understands your risk.
4. Maintain a healthy diet: Consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can supply essential nutrients and support overall health. Limiting processed foods, sugary beverages, and excessive sodium/salt intake supports a healthy lifestyle.
5. Engage in regular physical activity: While movement is necessary for life, life is always optional. With that in mind, aim for at least 150 minutes (about 2 and a half hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week. This can include activities such as walking, running, swimming, or cycling.
Don’t let the “intensity” of an activity intimidate you. Intensity is decided by how your body responds to the physical activity performed. Activities that are considered moderate to high intensity in the beginning can become low to moderate intensity as your fitness improves. It is also recommended to incorporate mild strength training exercises at least twice a week.
6. Get enough REST: Having an established regular sleep pattern (with a preparation routine) goes a long way to improving sleep quality and achieving a restful state. While the demand for a minimal number of hours changes through life, aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep each night is a good general guideline.
If the stress of the day is keeping you awake at night, find healthy ways to manage stress, such as through exercise, relaxation techniques, or engaging in hobbies.
7. Limit alcohol and tobacco use: Excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco use can significantly increase the risk of various health conditions. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation, and if you smoke, quitting is the best choice for overall health.
Additionally, you may want to rethink substituting a vape pen for a cigarette. Vaping is not without its consequences. Breathing in harmful chemicals from vaping can cause irreversible lung damage and disease.
8. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep proper hydration and support bodily functions.
While it may be tempting to set an absolute standard for the maintenance of personal health and wellness, it’s many things that come together to contribute to overall wellness. Remember, these are general recommendations and recommendations vary based on age, sex, and unique health status. It’s always best to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized recommendations based on your individual health needs and medical history.