You’ve likely heard the term “preventative health”, but what does it actually mean, and at what age should we start paying attention?
Preventive health is an umbrella term that encompasses various aspects of health and wellness, including staying active, screening for specific diseases such as breast cancer, and opting for a nutritional diet.
And according to a recent study undertaken at Brigham Young University, “preventative health” has been shown to reverse ageing!
This study discovered that high levels of exercise was linked to nine years of less ageing at a cellular level – a feat that even the most expensive anti-ageing creams or vitamins cannot lay claim to.
To learn more about how a preventive approach to health can boost your health and wellness, read on.
#1 – Preventive screening is key
While there is a seemingly endless array of recommended tests and screening available when you get to a certain age, there are specific tests recommended for women, which include annual visits to the gynecologist for STI, and pelvic exams.
Whereas some medical bodies recommend that women begin annual visits around 21 years old and onwards, others believe annual exams are only necessary women that are presenting symptoms. While whatever you test for is ultimately up to you, it’s wise to take advantage of any government initiatives when they’re available.
In order to test for breast cancer, BreastScreen Australia for example, offers free mammograms from ages 40 to 74, and women aged 50 to 74 are encouraged to opt for the test every couple of years.
#2 – Additional checks from middle age onwards
As you get older, many other tests and checks become necessary, and these can get expensive. Depending on the type of health insurance you have, you may be entitled to many additional tests, including an ultrasound of neck vessels, echocardiography, lung function tests, etc.
However if you’re not covered for these, it might be worthwhile to switch health insurance to find a company that covers them, particularly if you have a family history of specific diseases like heart disease.
For example, a CT scan of the heart will reveal vital information such as the presence or absence of plaque in the coronary arteries. Should your test results present concern, doctors can commence treatment ASAP to prevent a heart attack. Another test recommended every year or two from age 50 onwards, is colorectal cancer screening.
#3 – Making the best lifestyle choices
In addition to undergoing tests, it’s also important to take a proactive stance to health. This includes moving your body more via exercise, not smoking, limiting alcohol, plus eating a healthy Mediterranean-style diet.
These positive lifestyle changes will help prevent diseases like cancer, and help you maintain a healthy weight. Given that obesity is linked to a host of diseases, including heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, you want to jump on any bad habits that are forming as early as possible. The Australian government reports that around 56% of women in Australia are overweight or obese, indicating that lifestyle changes for many women are needed.
#4 – Stress and sleep
Like obesity, chronic stress and lack of sleep is related to Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Stress and sleep are closely interrelated. That is, women who are under high levels of stress often struggle to sleep the recommended seven to nine hours per night. While those who are sleep deprived have a much higher likelihood of feeling stressed, anxious, and tired constantly.
Embracing better sleep habits (i.e. sleeping at the same time every night, sleeping in a quiet, dark environment and investing in a good bed) is really important. So is battling stress through proven natural methods such as yoga, meditation, and Tai Chi.
In summary, to live a long and healthy life, and to stave off the signs of ageing, exercise, diet, and preventive testing are important. So is staying at a healthy weight and making sure you exercise regularly, with a combination of cardio and strength exercises.
And finally, don’t forget to make good sleep a priority! Being sleep deprived not only makes you feel sluggish and demotivated, but it’s also cause major health issues such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.