Have a Happy, Healthy New Year

Come January 1st, lots of people get started on their New Year’s Resolutions, and a great majority of these resolutions have to do with being healthier. A list compiled at USA.gov tells the story of our obsession with health resolutions: Of 13 resolutions that are listed as being popular year after year, six of them are specifically related to health, and several others have tangential health benefits as well. While resolutions to hit the gym, go running, quit smoking or start cooking and eating better food are all great ideas, there’s a related piece of advice that is often overlooked. The start of a new year is also a great time to schedule a checkup or physical with your doctor and any other regular appointments with dentists, eye doctors or other specialists you need to see.

Regular Maintenance for Your Body

Anyone who owns a car knows that regular maintenance is necessary to keep everything working smoothly. People who don’t maintain their vehicles suffer the consequences sooner or later – and usually in an expensive and inconvenient way. Regular oil changes, tire rotation and tune-ups keep your car running, so it can take you everywhere you need to go. If you make a point of scheduling regular maintenance for your car, think about how much you depend on your body to keep running smoothly. If your body “breaks down,” you have even worse problems than if your car stops running. If regular maintenance is good for your car, then regular “maintenance checks” with your doctor and other health specialists are just as important for you, if not more so. So why would you remember to take better care of your car than you would your own body?

Where to Start

If you’re not in the habit of having regular medical checkups, your primary doctor is the place to start. Schedule a general physical and while you’re there, ask your doctor if there are any specialized tests that would be good to add, such as mammograms or colonoscopies. Regular screening tests are often the best way to catch problems when they are small or even before they start. A trip to the dentist for X-rays and a good cleaning is recommended for everyone, and a trip to an optometrist is recommended for those with vision problems.

Knowing your family history is good for your regular doctor visits. If anyone in your family has received a new diagnosis in the past year, you may want to talk about it with your doctor to determine if you have any heightened risk of developing the same condition. Your doctor can schedule any appropriate tests to check for illness and can also give you advice about whether there is anything you can do to prevent some types of illness, such as heart disease or Type 2 diabetes.

There’s no time like the New Year to resolve to take better care of your health. Enlisting the help of your doctor and other health care specialists is the best way to safeguard your good health, this year and for years to come.

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