9 Wellness Tests For ’09

Make it priority #1 in 2009 to take care of your health before you’re hit with major repairs that drain both your well being and wallet.

Below are 9 wellness tests the physicians, registered dietitians, psychologists, and exercise physiologists at Pritikin recommend for 2009.  All are part of the new Executive Health Exam now being conducted at the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Miami, Florida. 

The Pritikin Executive Health Exam’s duration generally ranges from 1 to 3 days.  For stays in excess of 1 day, all accommodations, including meals and hotel rooms at Pritikin’s resort, are included. 

Take good care of yourself — and take a little vacation (the weather is sunny and 80° right now in South Florida) – by scheduling a few days at Pritikin for the new Pritikin Executive Health Exam. You’ll receive not only the most comprehensive physical of your life but also a highly personalized blueprint of nutrition, fitness, and stress management.

Notes Carolyn Schappert, a vice-president of operations, who was at Pritikin for 2 days in November: “There’s just one word I’d use to describe my Executive Health Exam at Pritikin – perfect!  Everyone – my doctors, the chefs, the educators, the concierge staff – were so kind and professional. They exceeded my expectations! I’m looking forward to coming back, and bringing my parents with me.”

9 Wellness Tests For ’09

1.  Comprehensive cardiovascular risk blood panel

Your test should include cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, fasting insulin, and inflammatory markers such as high sensitivity C-reactive protein. 

Also evaluated in the new Executive Health Exam at the Pritikin Longevity Center is the size of HDL and LDL particles, since new research shows that particle size can dramatically impact your risk of a heart attack.

2. Assessment of vitamin D levels

“Emerging research is finding that many Americans are deficient in vitamin D, which increases their risk of numerous diseases.  That’s why we recommend that everyone in our Health Exams at Pritikin have their vitamin D levels checked,” explains Dr. Danine Fruge, physician at the Pritikin Longevity Center.

“The optimal blood level goal for Vitamin D for cancer prevention and bone and immune health is 50 to 60. Current recommendations for most people to maintain a healthy vitamin D level are to supplement with 1000 to 2000 IUs of vitamin D3 daily.”

3.  Cardiac and fitness evaluation performed with both resting and exercise EKGs as well as a treadmill stress test 

All are performed under the direct supervision of a Pritikin physician in the Executive Health Exams at Pritikin.  

The tests determine if there is adequate blood flow to your heart during increased levels of activity.  Since heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, it’s a good idea for all men and women middle-aged and older to have these tests.

In the Pritikin Executive Health Exam, the doctors use the results from the EKGs and stress tests to plan individualized exercise prescriptions. That way, each individual is assured that his/her exercise plan is both safe and effective.

4.  Blood Sugar Testing 

Type 2 diabetes now afflicts more than 20 million people in the U.S.  That’s a huge problem because diabetics are about three times more likely to suffer heart attacks and strokes than nondiabetics.

But what a lot of people don’t know is that the pre-cursors of type 2 diabetes – often referred to as pre-diabetes and/or the metabolic syndrome – increase our risk of heart attacks and strokes almost as much as type 2 diabetes does.  And these pre-diabetic conditions are so widespread in 21st century America that scientists now estimate that the majority of the current U.S. population over the age of 65 has them.

Fortunately, simple blood tests like the fasting plasma glucose (sugar) test can determine whether you have pre-diabetes or diabetes. And there’s much you can do with lifestyle alone (no medications needed) to control the disease. The American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Prevention Program study conclusively showed that people with pre-diabetes can prevent the onset of full-blown type 2 diabetes by following a diet-and-exercise program, like the Pritikin Program, that focuses on low-calorie, high-fiber foods and just 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise.

With a healthy lifestyle, diabetics can even get off their medications. A meta-analysis of 864 type 2 diabetics found that 74% who arrived at the Pritikin Longevity Center on oral drugs no longer needed their drugs when they left the Center three weeks later. And 44% of diabetics on insulin shots were able to return home from Pritikin insulin-free. (Journal of Applied Physiology, 2005; 98: 3.)

5.  Bone Density Testing 

Osteoporosis, or thinning brittle bones, greatly increases the risk of serious fractures of the hip, wrists, spine, and ribs.  Risk increases with age.  And while osteoporosis mainly afflicts women, “men are far from immune,” points out Dr. Fruge.  “All men by age 65 and women by menopause need their bone density checked.”  Bone density testing is part of the standard services of the Pritikin Executive Health Exam.
“Bone density testing can help you avoid this silent debilitator, including fragility fractures and dowager’s hump, which commonly develop from the accelerated bone loss of osteopenia and osteoporosis,” counsels Dr. Fruge.

6.  Blood Pressure Testing

It’s not fancy or high tech. But getting your blood pressure checked regularly could save your life. At least 65 million adult Americans – up from 50 million just 10 years ago – now have high blood pressure. And kids, heavier than ever, are being diagnosed with it like never before.

Hypertension (the technical term for persistent high blood pressure) dramatically increases the risk of many crippling and deadly diseases, including heart disease, dementia, kidney failure, blindness, and strokes.

The good news: Diet alone is a powerful combatant against hypertension.  Several studies funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute have found that the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches To Stop Hypertension) lowers blood pressure as well as or better than any drug. The DASH diet, similar to the Pritikin Eating Plan, promotes menus that are low in fats, salt, cholesterol, red meat, and sweets; high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans; and moderate in seafood, poultry, nuts, and low-fat or nonfat dairy foods.

With proper dietary intervention, blood pressure falls so dramatically, studies on the Pritikin Program have found, that many people no longer require anti-hypertensive drugs. In a meta-analysis of 1,117 hypertensives who attended the Pritikin Longevity Center, 55% returned home free of their drugs. Most of the remaining 45% had their dosages substantially reduced – and in just four weeks or less. (Journal of Applied Physiology, 2005; 98: 3.)

7.  Body Composition Scan

Your weight as measured by the scale can be so wrong.  Far more important is a DEXA body composition scan, part of the Executive Health Exam at Pritikin, because it measures the two most important factors in weight control: percentage of body fat and percentage of lean muscle mass.  They’re vital because losing body fat and gaining muscle mass greatly enhances your health and your weight-loss efforts.

More muscle mass also means you look better – leaner, fitter, more toned – regardless of what the scale says. It’s far healthier to be 220 pounds with a high percentage of muscle tissue than 220 pounds with little muscle.

“We’ve also found that the DEXA body composition testing is very motivating,” says Pritikin’s Director of Exercise Scott Danberg, MS.  “Regardless of what the scale says, DEXA tells our guests that they’re on the right track.  They can feel it, they can see it, and their DEXA results prove it.”

8.  Biomechanical and Muscoloskeletal Evaluation (BME)

Don’t let pain like knee, shoulder, or back pain – or pain from old injuries – foul up your fitness plans.  Consulting with a physical therapist, a wellness service called a Biomechanical and Muscoloskeletal Evaluation that is part of the Pritikin Executive Health Exam, may be just what you need.

Your evaluation consists of two 1-hour sessions. The first hour, our physical therapist assesses you from head to toe, analyzing your posture, alignment, gait, muscle strength, range of motion, flexibility, and any pain or discomfort you feel in your daily activities. You’ll then receive personalized exercise instructions, including photographs, based on your unique needs.

The second hour, your exercise physiologist at Pritikin will make sure you’re performing every exercise correctly, and together you will design your daily home fitness routine based on your goals, interests, and schedules.

9.  Metabolic Rate Testing (RMR)

If you’re having trouble losing weight, your struggles may be related to your resting metabolic rate, or RMR. Your RMR is the number of calories your body naturally burns every day with little or no activity.

Everyone’s RMR is different. If your RMR is 1,800 calories, you’d lose weight on a 1,500-calorie diet. But if your RMR is 1,300 calories, you’d gain weight, unless you’re exercising every day. This is why set-calorie diets, like a 1,500-calorie diet, don’t work for many of us.

Until now, getting your RMR was costly and inaccessible – available only at research hospitals. But now, convenient and affordable testing is part of the Pritikin Executive Health Exam at the Pritikin Longevity Center.

There’ll be no more guessing as to how much you can eat and how much you should exercise to reach your goals. With your RMR, Pritikin’s dietitians and exercise physiologists can tailor healthy eating to your body.

As part of your Pritikin Executive Health Exam, you may also schedule one-on-one consultations with Pritikin health professionals, including:

  • Nutrition consultation to plan your dietary goals, including grocery shopping, cooking, and restaurant dining.
  • Exercise consultation to provide you with a personalized exercise plan.
  • Lifestyle consultation to help you develop new stress-minimizing strategies that enhance your health, productivity, and creativity.

To book your 1- to 3-day visit to the Pritikin resort for an Executive Health Exam, call 800.327.4914. 

In these challenging economic times, it’s even more important to take care of what’s most important:  your health.

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