Bruce Ricker, D.O. recommends taking preventative steps to improve your long-term health

There’s an old saying that “Hindsight is 2020!” In the year 2020, health care professionals can almost predict the future as well. “Understanding your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers can prevent serious conditions in the future like heart attacks and strokes. We do routine exams and encourage everyone to know their numbers,” says Mount Ayr Medical Clinic physician Bruce Ricker, D.O. “It’s just like changing the oil in your car. Preventative maintenance means it will last longer. The same goes for our health.”

Although most adults these days know the dangers of being overweight, or smoking, or drinking too much, not everyone sticks with the lifestyle modifications that are required to make a lasting change. “A great start is tracking your numbers,” says Dr. Ricker. “Even better is working with a health coach. It’s free for Mount Ayr Medical Clinic patients and can be invaluable. We used to tell people about their numbers, and they’d understand the importance of keeping track of their sugars, blood pressure, and cholesterol. But over time, they would migrate back to their old habits. With a health coach, they stay on track. If someone is checking up on you, you’re not as likely to cheat.” Dr. Ricker added that he’s convinced the biggest reason for the improvement in his diabetes patients is the health coaches. “I’ve been preaching the same thing for years. But these coaches are like personal trainers. They keep people accountable. They make sure you’ve filled your prescription or are keeping a food log. And they provide support groups and counseling. I’ve seen huge progress compared to what we’ve seen in the past.”

According to Dr. Ricker, an important number that every adult needs to know is “30”. Exercising for 30 minutes a day, every day, is just as critical as eating a healthy diet. “In rural communities, many of us grew up on farms where the work was all done by hand. Now farming requires less physical activity.” He’s glad to see many younger people placing more emphasis on staying fit to be healthy. “I see lots of people running in 5Ks, using the hiking trails, and even using the hospital hallways for walking. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. It just has to become a part of your daily routine.” A balanced diet that is primarily plant based is another good predictor of long-term health. Dr. Ricker admits that it’s sometimes difficult to find a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in rural areas, especially during the winter. “But in many ways, we’re blessed. People can raise vegetables in their own gardens and freeze to eat year-round!” Knowing your numbers, eating well, and exercising often aren’t new concepts in healthcare. But they’re great reminders of what to focus on in 2020. 

Call to make an appointment for your annual physical and better understand your numbers 641-464-4470 and check out these free wellness tools.