Dr. Dan Michael
Dr. Dan Michael

As we approach this season of giving, I thought it would be fitting to highlight some of the potential gifts you could give to yourself and your health for 2022.

We are approaching nearly two years since the start of the pandemic, and while a “new normal” has begun to take shape, we continue to suffer from the deleterious knock-on effects on our health and well-being. Many people still work from home; others have not yet found a sustainable solution for their activity needs, and some continue postponing doctor’s appointments and preventative appointments, etc. The list goes on. All these pandemic impacts are mixed in with a list of health issues that plagued our nation before COVID-19, like cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, as well as an opioid-use epidemic that claims more than 130 lives per day by way of overdose. While these may be national issues, they are also household issues.

Anyone reading this article has almost certainly been impacted by at least one of the aforementioned health issues, and so it is my hope that at least one person reading this article will take action on at least one of these wishlist items in 2022.

Control your blood glucose. Do this, and you will simultaneously combat your risk and severity of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Controlling your glucose, keeping it from getting too high (or too low), and you will control many aspects of your health.

Follow the American Heart Association’s recommended activity guidelines, and actually follow it without fail. They recommend to get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise at least five days per week, for a total of 150 minutes per week. If you do vigorous activity, then do at least 25 minutes at least three days per week.

See your doctor regularly, and get tested. We have all gotten into the habit of neglecting preventative and low-urgency medical care with the rise of the burden of COVID-19 patients on our medical systems. The time to re-engage or re-imagine (with virtual care) your regular medical and preventative care is now. We have also neglected tests that may not be urgent but are important, so be sure to get those done in 2022.

Test your vitamin D. Supplement if you are deficient, and then be sure to re-test after you supplement to see if you have successfully restored your levels. Know that supplementation is one thing, but absorption of what you supplement is another issue entirely and should be confirmed.

Build your movement competency, then build strength and power around it. Movement competency is a spectrum, and some people are great movers, some are indeed very bad, and most others are somewhere in between. Before you can build strength and power into your activity (i.e. vigorous aerobic exercise), you need to first be competent in that movement and build capacity over time and repetition before you can increase the intensity of it.

Learn something about your body and your health. One thing about our health is that it did not come with a user manual at birth, and so we must all take the time to learn about our health and our unique selves. Preferably this knowledge comes from a reputable source, and most importantly that you understand what you are doing and why you are doing it.

Complete one major health goal with a friend, family member or coach. Our health is connected as much to our individuality as it is to those around us, and the healthy habits of those around us can influence us just as much as the unhealthy habits. We also enjoy things and stick with them longer if they are enjoyable and fun, so for 2022, get a goal, set it with a friend, stick with it and, most of all, have fun doing it.