Even though taking a vacation is recommended each year to “recharge your batteries,” your health doesn’t take a holiday.
The New Year is a great time to make an appointment for an annual exam and include your physician in your health goals for the year.
“Preventive medicine is a key component to maintaining a healthy lifestyle regardless of the time of year. Developing an ongoing relationship with your health care provider, who knows you and your medical history, leads to a better overall outcome and lower costs,” said Dr. Kathryn Jobbins of Baystate Medical Practices.
“Many people, especially those in good health, often believe they don’t need a primary care provider. However, the relationship you build with your primary care provider now ensures that you will have a medical professional who is familiar with your medical history later, when problems do come up,” she added.
How Your PCP Can Help
Your primary care provider (PCP) will partner with you to help you lead a healthier life through regular checkups, proper diet, exercise, and medical advice. He or she will work with you to manage any chronic medical conditions and address small health issues before they become large ones.
Among the services your primary care provider can offer are:
►Evaluation and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses
►Patient education and preventative medicine
Tips To Stay Healthy
To help you and your family stay healthy this year, Dr. Jobbins, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) offer the following winter and all-seasons health tips:
1. Wash your hands. It’s the most effective way to ward off the spread of most viral diseases. Carry a bottle of hand sanitizer for when you can’t wash your hands.
2. Get a flu shot. Everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccine yearly. New vaccines are released yearly to keep up with rapidly adapting flu viruses.
3. Eat healthy. It can be tempting, especially in the cold months, to fill up on unhealthy comfort food, but it’s important that you keep your diet healthy by including five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
4. Drink up. Drinking plenty of fluids is important when you are ill and every day for preventing illness. Adequate hydration keeps the tissues of the respiratory system moist, which prevents microbes from settling in. Water is best.
5. Exercise. Regular exercise has been proven to boost your immune system and make you feel more energetic. It also reduces the production of stress hormones such as cortisol. One study showed that men with higher levels of activity experienced a 35% reduction in number of colds and women a 20% reduction.
6. Get enough sleep. This is vital. Lack of sleep can contribute to health problems such as high blood pressure, weight gain, and a decrease in your immune system’s power to fight off illness.
7. Don’t smoke. Studies show that smokers have more frequent and severe colds. Secondhand smoke also makes people more susceptible to respiratory illnesses.Talk to your primary care provider if you smoke, to help you quit. Get the support of family and friends to help you succeed.
How To Stick To Your Goals
With the New Year now in full swing, many goals get put aside as the month of January passes.
“While weight loss, health screenings, and stress reduction are among some of the best ways to achieve and maintain better health, creating a plan that is manageable is the key to success. I encourage my patients to look at the New Year as a time to set small, attainable goals that they can maintain throughout the year, leading to long term success and better health,” said Dr. Jobbins.
“Whether you want to lose weight, quit smoking, or reduce stress, your healthcare provider can suggest additional resources such as support groups, reading material, or if appropriate, medications or aids that can help. Getting advice from your primary care provider and support from friends and family is a great way to keep your New Year’s health resolutions going all year long,” she added.
Do You Need a PCP?
Dr. Jobbins, who sees patients at Baystate Wing Hospital, is currently accepting new patients by calling 413-370-5400. You can also find other practices close to you accepting new patients by using the Find a Provider online tool at baystatehealth.org or calling Baystate Health Link at 1-800-377-4325.