Doctor’s annual lab tests give fitness buffs news they can use

Annual wellness exams are important.

Comprehensive lab testing can reveal risk factors for sneaky chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, kidney disease and more. Most of these conditions are preventable through lifestyle changes and/or medication — if caught early, which underscores why annual medical exams are critical.

It helps to understand the usual lab tests and what your results mean.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, as this condition represents roughly 25% of all deaths annually (cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm). The risk factors for cardiovascular disease include hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), hypertension (high blood pressure), obesity, smoking, family history, age and a few others.

Annual screenings almost always include a lipid panel, which breaks down the amount of good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol in the bloodstream, as well as triglycerides. Total cholesterol levels represent the sum of the LDL and HDL cholesterol levels. A desirable range for total cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dl; to meet recommended levels, LDL should be below 100, and HDL levels should be above 60.

Updating your numbers matters to an overall lifestyle management plan because annual screenings tell you whether your efforts are making a difference.

For example, someone with a high total cholesterol might choose to start an exercise program based on their doctor’s recommendation. They begin workouts 3-4 times a week and continue for a full year before having their next annual screening. At that screening, they learn their total cholesterol has dropped by 30 mg/dl. This is good news! The individual has effectively lowered the risk for cardiovascular disease through lifestyle modification.

While medicine and personal health usually aren’t that simple, my point is that annual screenings are important. Taking responsibility for understanding the correct reference ranges for your blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and other tests gives you the power to work for change.

And of course, living a physically active life generally improves annual screening performance. So, it’s important to continue to prioritize physical activity to reduce your risk for developing chronic disease.

This week’s exercise can be part of that plan if you’re looking for a challenge. The Medicine Ball Crunch Standup makes an interesting closing movement to a comprehensive workout.

1. Select a medium weight medicine ball and lie on your back on an exercise mat.

2. Extend your legs and extend both arms overhead while holding the medicine ball.

3. Slowly bring the medicine ball up toward your chest while keeping both arms fully extended.

4. As the ball reaches chest level, lift your shoulders up and continue moving the ball forward to your waist.

5. Sit all the way up and continue moving the ball forward toward your knees and stand up by bringing your feet underneath you.

6. Perform two sets of 10.

This really is a challenging movement! But it can be modified to reduce the workload on the knees by lying on a bench or raised platform.

Personal health and wellness are, well, personal. I have always viewed myself as an advocate for population health, and personal health decisions are obviously individual matters. But I can’t think of a reason that annual screenings would ever be advised against, and they provide benchmarks from which to measure future progress — just like a fitness assessment. So, let’s get to work!

Director of business development and population health solutions for Quest Diagnostics, Matt Parrott began this column 20 years ago at Little Rock. He has a doctorate in education (sport studies), a master’s in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.

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By Betty C. Giordano

Welcome to my site. My name is Betty C. Giordano and I am a blogger of everything related to mobile, news, events and reality in general. I hope you enjoy reading my content.

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