Have you ever heard the phrase, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” That’s exactly what preventive healthcare is all about, defined as measures that can be taken now to prevent diseases in the future. It’s estimated that only 8% of adults in the United States aged thirty five and older have received the preventive services recommended to them by healthcare providers, while 5% of them haven’t received any preventive services at all.
Preventive services can be a lot of things— annual checkups, counseling, tests, and more. All of them share one thing in common: they prevent critical problems early, so that you can live longer and happier. The best part? Many health plans are required to cover a set of preventive services, at no additional cost to you. All plans from Nevada Health Link, for example, are required to cover the 10 Essential Health Benefits, which range from outpatient treatment options to preventive measures like screenings, labs, and chronic disease support.
But where to begin on your preventive health journey? We’re here to help— here are 5 simple preventive health decisions you can make that can change your life.
1. Get Regular Check Ups, Tests, and Screenings
Regular check ups, tests, and screenings are a significant compass for your health. Doctors and other healthcare professionals are here to help steer your health in the right direction, and also detect potential risks in their early stages. Regular visits allow your provider to detect subtle changes in your health, ones that may indicate the onset of a medical condition. Catching these changes early is key to accessing more effective treatments and improved results.
2. Stay Up-to-Date On Vaccinations
Vaccinations are at the very center of modern preventive medicine, and by bolstering your immune system with immunizations your body is better prepared to fight off potentially deadly viral and bacterial infections. Staying up-to-date on your vaccinations also contributes to the overall health of your community by preventing the spread of contagious diseases. Recommended adult immunizations include COVID-19, Influenza (flu), and Tdap, while recommended immunizations for children include chickenpox, hepatitis A and B, COVID-19, measles, mumps, and rubella.
3. Get Your Yearly Flu Shot
A quick ten minute stop at your local pharmacy to get your annual flu shot can lead to a huge amount of saved time, effort, and money in the long run. Not only can getting your flu shot shield you from the potentially-crippling side effects of the influenza virus, but it also has the power to prevent its transmission to people who are more vulnerable to disease.
4. Get Enough Sleep and Exercise
Preventive care goes far beyond the confines of your doctor’s office; it extends to many of your everyday routines and activities. Maintaining a healthy body and mind through regular sleep and exercise is a great step toward setting your health up for success.
The power of sleep to make or break our health is often overlooked, but make no mistake— it is absolutely essential for your overall well-being. Quality, uninterrupted sleep allows the body to repair, regenerate, and boost your immune system and cognitive functions. Aim for 7-8 hours of good sleep each night, aided by a set bedtime routine, a comfortable sleep environment, and limited screen time before bed.
Much like sleep, regular exercise is critical to preventing future health issues. Getting your body moving and your blood pumping on a regular basis is a great way to reduce the risk of chronic and debilitating conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. Find an exercise you enjoy, whether it’s rock climbing, dancing, weight lifting, basketball, or something else, and try to integrate it into your everyday routine— doctors recommend about 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorously intense exercise, every week.
It’s also proven that spending at least 120 minutes in nature every week— or only 17 minutes per day— is associated with improved health and happiness. Click here to learn more about Nevada’s Take 17 initiative, which inspires Nevadans to get up, get outside, and embrace the healing power of nature.
5. Manage Your Stress
Stress can be a constant companion in everyday life, but it doesn’t have to rule your future. Chronic stress can take a serious toll on your physical and mental well-being, leading to increased risk for conditions like hypertension, heart disease, arthritis, Type II diabetes, and more. Take steps to manage your stress at home with mindfulness activities like meditation and yoga.
Currently enrolled in a healthcare plan from Nevada Health Link? Schedule your preventive health service today and take control of your future.
If you aren’t currently enrolled, click here to find your perfect plan with Nevada Health Link and jumpstart your health journey today.