Last week I saw the movie “Freaky Friday.” It is a story about a mother and daughter who literally change bodies. The mother then experiences the world of her daughter and the daughter experiences her mother’s world. When they finally return to their own bodies, their perspectives on life are changed.
Suppose you could have a “Freaky Friday” experience with yourself. Suppose you could go into the future, 20, 30, 40, even 50 years from now, and experience your body as it has aged.
Now, just suppose you could immediately experience the effects of years of poor nutrition, lack of exercise, extreme stress, smoking and excessive drinking. Would you be motivated to change? Would the experience be enough to promote good health practices now, or would you say that there still is time? I wonder. Online wellness allows people to start preventive health at their convenience.
“If I only took care of myself years ago, I wouldn’t be in so much pain,” many people say. If we could see the results of our medical decisions, would we make healthier choices? Many of my patients have told me that there is nothing more important then their health. Good health allows them to reach their goals and their dreams.
Although a “Freaky Friday” experience is possible only in the movies, medical studies do allow us to see into our future. Our studies tell us that many Americans need to be more proactive.
America spends more per person on illness than any other country in the world. Yet we spend a tiny fraction encouraging disease prevention and health. That is regrettable.
Being proactive seems to run countercurrent to traditional medicine. Medicine, for the most part, encourages only the treatment of disease. We have become accustomed to neglecting our health until we become ill. Then we believe that we can regain our health through medications and surgical procedures. Although disease symptoms can improve, lifelong use of medications is termed “disease management” – not health.
The likelihood of developing disease can be predicted for large populations. We know that, based upon lifestyle choices, a specific percent of people will develop heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. But these outcomes are not written in stone.
As physicians, we know that exercise is one of the best prescriptions for health. We know that stress reduction, vitamins and minerals can reduce heart disease and some cancers. And we know that dietary changes help prevent diabetes and many bowel diseases.
We have the knowledge to make life better, to prevent disease and promote vitality.
What this means is that your health is your responsibility.
If you could change places for a while with an older version of yourself, would you choose health or disease management now? Health requires making an effort, from regular exercise, proper nutrition and stress reduction to vitamins, possibly supplements and even herbs. It requires all of us to take time for ourselves – every day.