The COVID-19 pandemic has been a unique challenge for communities all over the world in the past year. Beyond the very real dangers of the actual virus, this pandemic has disrupted economies, businesses, families, and, of course, otherwise normal diet and exercise patterns. In fact, some recent studies of behavior over the past year have shown that 61% of Americans had an unintentional weight change (either weight gain or weight loss) while living under quarantine. Between weight changes, less physical activity, an increase in alcohol consumption, and numerous other effects of the pandemic, Americans’ health has seen a notable decline. Now that vaccines are becoming readily available and the country is starting to open up, it’s a perfect time for a wellness exam.
Health Effects from Quarantine
For most Americans, the arrival of COVID-19 last February and March meant the onset of a new sedentary, quarantine lifestyle. Rather than being active and engaging in outdoor sports and activities, people were forced to stay indoors. This meant working from home, binge-watching television shows, and eating considerably more calories than were necessary. The net effect of these essentially forced lifestyle changes is a population that has gained weight and lost cardiovascular health (not to mention the impact on stress, anxiety, depression, and overall mental health).
Besides the unwelcome “cosmetic” effect of carrying more fat tissue on the body, weight gain and poorer cardiovascular health are both associated with a variety of negative health outcomes. Some of these outcomes include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, many types of cancer, and a variety of other health conditions. Additionally, being overweight, especially obesity, is known to increase the risk of a COVID-19 infection causing serious illness.
Emerging From the COVID-19 Pandemic
The pandemic is definitely not yet in the rearview mirror, and, sadly, caseloads continue to increase in parts of the United States and elsewhere around the world. Yet the rapid increase in available COVID vaccines, and a consequent rise in the number of vaccinated people, has given doctors and scientists reason to believe that a return to “normal life” may be nearer than we think. As a result, it may be time to start thinking about your overall health and what it will take to counteract any negative effects from this unusual year.
One of the seemingly hardest changes to make (even outside of a global pandemic) is in the realm of diet and exercise. Anxiety and stress often lead to changes in habits, and those changes in habits can lead to unhealthy behavior like eating too much food or drinking too much alcohol. The first step, though, is to recognize that a change is needed. For a lot of people this means reducing daily caloric intake and reintroducing more physical activity into one’s daily life. By starting with small adjustments, new, healthier patterns can form that can help bring you back to your pre-quarantine weight and activity level.
What is a Wellness Exam?
Making changes to diet and exercise habits is only one piece of the puzzle, however. Even though it can feel satisfying to see inches come off one’s waistline and numbers on the scale start to decline, true health and wellness usually require help from medical professionals. One of the best ways to get help after the long quarantine is through a wellness exam provided by a clinic like TrustCare.
A wellness exam or checkup is essentially a preemptive medical examination that focuses on maintaining health and heading off health problems before they can even occur. These preventative exams are designed so that a doctor can evaluate overall health and wellness while determining any potential issues that might occur for a particular patient. Unlike a “physical,” a wellness exam isn’t so much a snapshot of one’s current health as it is a proactive look at opportunities to improve or maintain good health.
Different doctors may have different approaches to wellness exams, but they generally include some of the same components and procedures. In addition to collecting information about a person’s health, one of the other key goals of a wellness exam is to open a dialogue between doctor and patient about the patient’s health in order to foster better communication and set goals for the year ahead. Below are some of the elements you can expect from a wellness exam:
- Family history: Any discussion of overall health will naturally include a history of family health problems. Since many diseases and conditions can be passed on genetically, knowing the health history of family members can be incredibly important in determining a patient’s potential future health risks.
- Personal history: Just as family medical history is important, so is a patient’s own medical history. Some diseases are likely to return if you’ve had them before, so identifying those issues can help the doctor keep an eye out in the future.
- Physical examination: A standard physical examination is a crucial part of a wellness exam. Data related to blood pressure, reflexes, and weight, as well as the functioning of the lungs, heart, and other vital organs, are all informative for the doctor. When measuring these vitals, results that fall outside normal ranges are often a good starting point for further exploration.
- Blood work: Red blood cell count, platelet count, and numerous other factors related to blood composition are all extremely valuable in the context of a wellness exam. Some diseases and conditions can even be preempted by closely looking at the results of bloodwork.
- Dialogue: Ultimately, all the tests and data are most useful in the context of a dialogue between doctor and patient. The wellness exam is a perfect opportunity to openly and confidentially discuss any number of health-related questions or concerns that might come up during the exam.
Where Can I Get a Wellness Exam?
The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t quite over yet, but the medical community increasingly believes that the end may very well be in sight. As we all emerge from this bizarre year of quarantine, it’s likely that our health isn’t quite as good as it could be or should be. Weight gain is one obvious result of being isolated for so long, but it isn’t necessarily the only thing to be concerned about.
If, like most people, you haven’t been to a doctor for a while, it might be an ideal time to finally get a health checkup. At TrustCare, we understand all too well how difficult the past year has been for everyone. If you would like to get an exam, contact us for more information or simply stop by one of our convenient locations for a walk-in wellness exam. In most cases, you’ll be able to get in and out in around an hour.