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Wellness: Yearly Exams Aren’t Just For Students

June 6, 2012

April was a busy month for me.

On the fun side, I saw old friends and met new ones as I attended six state financial aid association conferences. I also celebrated the birthdays of my wife Melissa and my son Mike.

On the not so much fun side, I had my annual physical examination. Even though I do not look forward to this event, it is probably one of the most important things that I will do all year. I’ve had the same physician for 15 years, and he does a fantastic job of giving my body its annual tune-up. He examined me from head to toe and monitored all of the changes in my lifestyle.

We all should know the benefits of such an exam.  Just think about these facts:

  • Nearly 2 million people over the age of 20 were diagnosed with diabetes in 2011. It is the major cause of heart disease and stroke, and it is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • 200,000 men develop prostate (not prostRate) cancer annually. A simple regular early screening test is suggested, and they seem to work. Prostate deaths have declined from 40,000 in 1993 to 29,000 in 2010.
  • Recent studies show that nearly 37% of Americans have a cholesterol reading of over 200. Most physicians like to see your total cholesterol below 200. Since high cholesterol itself does not have any symptoms, an annual blood test is essential. Suggestions for keeping your cholesterol under control include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and throwing away that cigarette. At one point, my cholesterol was over 300…a combination of not eating right and bad genetics. So I changed my eating habits, began exercising more than once a year, and finally decided to take prescription medicine. The results? Last year, my total cholesterol was 125, and all of my ratios were fantastic.
  • I was born and raised on the Jersey shore, so my body was exposed to the sun at an early age. Skin cancer is the most common form of all cancers.  It accounts for nearly half of all cancers in the United States. In 2011, approximately more than one million cases of skin cancer were found. There are many common sense preventative techniques to be aware of: (1)  Limit recreational sun exposure – Purposely hit your golf ball into the woods where you’ll be protected by the shade of the trees, (2) Use a waterproof sunscreen with UVA protection and SPF 30 or greater, (3) Avoid unprotected exposure to the sun during peak hours around noon, (4) Wear broad brimmed hats and protective clothing while outside in the sun, and (5) Undergo regular checkups and notify your doctor of any suspicious looking or changing lesions

Bottom line- annual physical exams are essential for your total well-being. I am thankful for my annual tune-up and hearing about the things that I can do for my total well-being…… so that I can enjoy Melissa and Mike’s birthdays for many years to come.

Don Buehrer, Regional Director, Nelnet Partner Solutions

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