Conducting an honest health audit helps you to set goals and determine how best to achieve them – starting with qualified health professionals.
Setting health goals and making lifestyle changes to achieve them isn’t easy, but an important step is getting the right kind of professional support. Goals are about improving or changing what matters to you now. For example, do you want to lose excess weight, start running, cultivate a more positive self-image or even have more energy to play outside with your children? Start by evaluating where you are right now and then ask yourself what you want to achieve and who can offer you the best support to get there. Here are a few goals you might want to set for the new year and the experts that can help you achieve them.
Goal: Prioritise healthy nutrition
How can a dietitian help me?
A dietitian is a healthcare professional qualified to provide advice and counselling about diet, food and nutrition. Not only do they focus on improving overall health and wellbeing, they are trained to develop, implement and evaluate nutrition plans and work with people suffering from specific medical conditions, eating disorders and conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and others that benefit from a healthy eating plan.
A dietitian can also schedule tests to determine what nutritional factors could be affecting a patient’s health. Most dietitians stay up to date with nutritional best practice and analyse current nutritional studies in order to better inform patients. The added advantage is that they can tailor an eating plan to your needs, which may help you see results faster.
Goal: Prioritise mental health
How can a clinical psychologist help me?
Mental health is as important as physical health, but it’s often not given the same level of focus. Poor nutrition, lack of exercise, uncontrolled stress, mood swings and antisocial behaviour can all be the result of neglected mental health. A clinical psychologist is a mental health specialist who can help you sort through your feelings and address your emotional wellbeing.
By interviewing, testing and observing a patient, a clinical psychologist can make an informed determination about a person’s mental health and suggest ways in which they can make lifestyle adjustments to boost overall happiness and wellbeing. It’s important to note that you don’t have to have a diagnosed mental illness to see a clinical psychologist. A mental health check-up should be regarded in the same way as a physical check-up.
Goal: Prioritise heart health
How can a cardiologist help me?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US, members of the same family share genes, behaviours, lifestyles and environments that can influence their health and risk for disease. Heart (cardiovascular) disease can run in a family, which is why you should be informed about your family history and other risk factors such as:
- Age (your risk increases as you get older)
- Stress (high levels of stress, for example at work, can elevate blood pressure)
- Physical activity (a lack of exercise increases risk)
- Nutrition (a poor diet has a direct effect on heart health)
A cardiologist diagnoses and treats conditions of the cardiovascular system and uses your family history and current medical profile to assess risk and inform possible treatment. They are qualified to carry out and order tests, perform some procedures and give advice about preventing heart disease. It’s important to note that your physician will perform a clinical evaluation and assess your need to see a cardiologist. This might be necessary if you have a pre-existing condition or a family history. Unlike the other experts suggested, you will need a referral from your GP or physician for a cardiologist.
Goal: Prioritise movement and agility
How can a physiotherapist help me?
Physiotherapists are often associated with orthopaedic conditions, rehabilitation and sports injuries, but they are qualified to treat injury, disease and disorders, using massage, exercise, manipulation and a variety of other treatments that don’t include medication or treatment.
While physiotherapists are an important part of a rehabilitation team since they aim to restore quality of life by alleviating pain and increasing function and mobility, many people are starting to see physiotherapy as a key treatment in a preventive lifestyle. As people become more aware of their health, they consult physiotherapists to address posture, overall body awareness and techniques to prevent injury during exercise, sport or daily life.