As 2022 ends, it’s time to take stock of the preventive steps you’ve taken—and those you’ve skipped—over the past year so you can plan for a healthier 2023. Review this health check-in to reflect on accomplishments and missteps before the New Year.
We’ve largely moved past basic COVID-19 precautions such as masking. But experts say that COVID isn’t done with us yet, as more transmissible strains are gaining traction. New bivalent booster shots targeting the current Omicron strains are now widely available and very important to obtain. Flu shots are also essential, as we’re facing the worst flu season since before the pandemic began.
In addition, you may be due for some other vaccinations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following:
- HPV (Human papillomavirus): One shot by the time you are 26. With your doctor’s OK, you can get this shot up through age 45.
- Pneumonia: For people ages 65 or above or younger people with specific underlying medical conditions. Ask your doctor if you need a pneumonia shot and, if so, which one is recommended.
- Shingles: A single shot at age 50 or above.
- Tdap (Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis): You’ll need this once as an adult and then either a Tdap or tetanus booster every 10 years.
Other vaccines may also be needed, especially if you work in healthcare, travel to certain countries, or have underlying medical conditions. Ask your doctor which vaccinations are recommended for you.
2. Annual checkups
Now is a great time to schedule your EHE annual checkup. You’ll also want to make appointments with specialists. Women should see a gynecologist yearly, and everyone should have an eye exam every two years. If you are over 65 or have existing eye problems, you may need to see the eye doctor more frequently. It’s also a good idea to visit a dermatologist annually. Your doctor will let you know if you need to see any additional specialists.
Recommended health screenings depend on your age, gender, and overall health. Standard screenings include, but are not limited to:
- Breast cancer: Every two years for women starting at age 50
- Cervical cancer: Every three years for women from puberty through age 29, and then every five years beginning at age 30
- Colon cancer: Every three to 10 years, beginning at age 45 or 50, depending on risk factors and the type of screening used
- Hepatitis C: Once for everyone born between 1945 and 1965
- Hypertension: Every year for all adults
- Lung cancer: Annually starting at age 55 for all current or former smokers
- Sexually transmitted diseases: Annually for those with multiple partners
- Skin cancer: Annually for all adults
- Type 2 diabetes: Every year, starting at age 40, for those who are overweight or obese
Depending on your health profile, you may need additional health screenings. Ask your doctor which screenings are appropriate for you.
The holidays are filled with rich, decadent treats. And there is no reason not to enjoy them. The key is moderation and portion control. And this is also the right time to commit to healthier eating in 2023.
MyPlate offers the latest nutritional guidelines and recommendations based on gender, height and weight, age, and activity level. For adults ages 19 through 59, general ranges include:
- Vegetables: 2 to 4 cups per day. Include a variety of beans and lentils, as well as all different colors of vegetables
- Fruits:5 to 2.5 cups per day. Eat the rainbow with different colored fruits
- Grains: 5 to 10 ounces per day, including whole as well as refined grains
- Dairy: 3 cups per day, which can be any combination of milk-based products
- Proteins: 5 to 7 ounces per day. Mix it up with meats, nuts, seeds, eggs, and seafood
- Oils: 22 to 44 grams per day. Choose healthy fats when possible
There are different guidelines for kids, teens, and older adults. But you don’t need to get lost in the math. The biggest takeaway is that you need a wide variety of food types and colors. It’s OK to enjoy treats. Just focus most of your daily intake on more nutritious options.
The CDC recommends that all adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. This can include walking, mowing the lawn, carrying groceries, playing with your kids—in short, anything that gets you up and moving. Any time spent moving counts, even if you break it into 5-minute or 10-minute chunks. Also, do some muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week.
Benefits of physical exercise include:
- Better sleep
- Healthier weight
- Lower stress
- Mood improvement
- Reduced risk for some cancers, as well as Type 2 diabetes
- Sharper focus
- Stabilized blood pressure
You’ll want to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have underlying health conditions. And don’t be afraid of the word “exercise.” You don’t have to be a gym rat to vacuum the house or have a living room dance party with your kids.
6. Mental health considerations
Before the pandemic, one in every five adults lived with a mental illness. Then COVID-19 took a toll on everyone, frequently leading to symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns. As we learn to live in the post-pandemic era, now is a great time to renew your commitment to your mental health.
If you are having trouble bouncing back, consider taking an online screening test. These screeners are less clinically accurate than a traditional test given by a therapist, but they can help you decide whether your symptoms could indicate a problem. If so, consider contacting a mental health professional for a complete assessment. If you have any thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. You can also text MHA to 741-741. If you are in immediate crisis, call 911.