Starting Your Year Out Right
Advice for all ages from pediatrician Pedro Sarmiento, MD, and internist Lauren Williams, MD
No matter your age, when it comes to starting 2017 off the right way, physicians agree on the three most important measures you can take to jumpstart your health in the New Year. We have asked MedStar pediatrician Pedro Sarmiento, MD, and internist and pediatric specialist Lauren Williams, MD, for their best advice for starting your year out RIGHT.
The first theme cited by both physicians was eating healthy. “You should start off the year committed to a well-balanced, healthy diet,” said Williams. “If you need to lose weight, goals are important, but with a healthy diet, weight loss will follow.” Both physicians recommend five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, increasing your intake of water and decreasing or eliminating sugary drinks. “I’d recommend avoiding fast food and processed foods,” said Dr. Sarmiento. “Replace these meals with fresh food that you prepare at home. Cooking at home, which is a great option for a quality family activity, lets you control ingredients, portion size and salt.”
The second theme important for overall health is to make sure you are active. For both kids and adults, 30 minutes of exercise per day of some type of activity that increases the heart rate, is recommended. While running or walking are the most common ways to exercise, and are great for engaging a family in a healthy activity, other options, like Zumba classes, could be fun, says Dr. Williams. No matter what fitness program you begin, “Start slow, with small, manageable goals,” encourages Dr. Williams. She also advises post-menopausal women to incorporate weight-bearing exercise into their routine to increase bone strength.
Dr. Sarmiento says outdoor activities like skiing and ice skating are great options for winter exercise, as well. Additionally, for kids, Dr. Sarmiento recommends limiting TV, computer and video time. He also cautions against not only smoking, but vaping, which is also detrimental to health.
Third, both physicians advise all ages to make sure to schedule annual physicals. “We recommend annual physicals for all adults, even if you are a healthy person,” says Dr. Williams. “Annual physicals help keep adults up-to-date on vaccines and give us results for cholesterol, blood sugar, kidney function, hypertension and overall internal health. Also, since not every disease shows up with symptoms, annual physicals can detect silent problems, like high blood pressure.”
What Vaccinations and Tests Are Needed at What Age?
- The American Academy of Pediatrics and both physicians recommend HPV immunizations, anytime from age nine through 26. This series of three vaccinations prevent infections that can cause cervical cancer and oral and genital warts. The immunization against HPV is only effective as a prevention measure, not as a cure.
- Pap: This test for cervical cancer should typically be done once every three years, beginning at age 21.
- Mammogram: This test to detect breast cancer should be done yearly, beginning at age 40, unless there is a family history of breast cancer, which means beginning testing before the age of 40.
- Prostate Cancer Screening: Beginning at age 50, men should submit to either a blood test or rectal exam to detect prostate cancer. African-American and other minority men, or men with increased risk factors should begin tests at age 40.
- Colon Cancer Screenings: At age 50, men should undergo a colonoscopy to detect colon cancer, and repeat this test every 10 years.
For all adults
- Yearly flu shots are recommended, particularly for those with chronic medical conditions, such as heart, lung or kidney disease.
- Tetanus shots are recommended every 10 years.
- Pneumonia vaccines are recommended for adults age 65 or older.
- Shingles vaccines are recommended after age 60. Shingles vaccines are given to prevent developing the disease and decreasing long term effects in the event that shingles still occurs after vaccination, says Dr. Williams.
MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center wishes you a happy, healthy New Year! For more information about scheduling a physical, finding a doctor or learning about our hospital, visit MedStarSouthernMaryland.org/Screenings.