Putting Athletes to the Test: a ProHealth Evaluation
Athletes tend to be very health conscious as a group. We get better performance when we eat right and our bodies are strong and well-trained for an event. Even casual cyclists are fit and more likely to watch what they eat than the average population. We work hard at living healthy! The question is how do we really know if we are doing a good job of maintaining our bodies? We work out hard, but are we eating right? What about that little niggling injury that crops up regularly? Perhaps our monthly cycles get out of whack every once in awhile or we have felt absolutely exhausted in the last few weeks. Instead of seeing the doctor only for the annual gynecological exam and occasional sports injury, what if we could get a complete physical exam and lab work that was suited for the athletic adult?
Preventative healthcare has come a long way. Doctors are testing for chronic diseases and other problems and are able to help control issues such as high blood pressure before they lead to heart problems. It’s even better when a doctor can advise lifestyle changes before it even gets to that point. Endurance athletes often pass general physicals with flying colors and are told they are in great shape. But for them, perhaps the standards of the exam need to be raised and they can find areas that they too need to improve in. Athletes can benefit from a very complete lab test, a physical test that pushes them and may show their physical imbalances and a good look at their nutrition, sleep issues, lung function, body composition, etc. Some athletes are strong, but could work on cardio, while some endurance athletes such as runners have the cardio, but aren’t very flexible. There are also special medication issues with triathletes and endurance athletes. Some medications can negatively affect race performance, and better alternatives can be prescribed. The final issue is that we are all growing older. If you’re a non-smoking, healthy woman, you can expect to live to be nearly 86 years old. The idea is to age well and be a healthy 86-year old who can still get out there and ride a bike!
The ProHealth Lab in Park City, Utah has put together a comprehensive health evaluation which focuses on helping an individual become as healthy as possible and to help them stay healthy and fit into old age. The focus of the ProHealth evaluation is on prevention and wellness, so it is a great fit for those who are trying to learn more about their health and turn things around, just as it is for those who are striving for optimal physical fitness. As a cyclist, you could say this is a physical exam that compares to a typical physical like a carbon fiber frame bike compares to an old steel frame. There are some amazing differences that a cyclist could appreciate!
Want to get your own Comprehensive Pro-Health Evaluation? (The Pro Health Lab is offering this evaluation to one of our lucky readers!–See below!)
The Comprehensive ProHealth evaluation is very thorough; it includes comprehensive panel (hs-CRP, lipid profile, complete blood count with clotting time, comprehensive metabolic panel, fasting glucose/insulin, homecysteine & urinalysis) core x-rays, body composition, a test of respiratory function, dynamic postural anaylsis and tests of flexbility and stength and then a submax cardio stress test. I was excited to get a complete exam and was as curious about how physically fit I really was, and was also determined to know the weaknesses such a physical would uncover, and finally, I really wanted to know deep down inside my fat percentage and my aerobic capacity. The following photos will give an idea of the physical testing of strength, flexibility and cardio.
What the photos don’t show is the x-rays, the measuring of my body composition, lung tests, blood work and more. I also fill out subjective evaluations of my nutrition, physical activity, mood/attitude and sleep habits. After the testing, comes the report card of course! A few days later, I was excited to get the report card and see how I did. The physical testing went even better than I hoped, but I could see that flexibility was something I have to work harder on. The blood work showed anemia (a chronic problem for me–and many other female athletes!), and it also showed that I was just about to come down with an infection (I was fighting an illness the next week!) The core x-rays showed “clean hips” with very good bone density and very minor lumbar spine issues. Finally, even the subjective evaluations showed that I probably should get more sleep and try to get more daily servings of fruits and vegetables! The ProHealth Lab also gave me literature to read with tips to improve in the areas I was weak in. (They also had me follow up with my family doctor about some of the blood work.) All in all, it was a valuable evaluation which gave me a better idea of what I need to focus on improving, helped me understand more about my body and reassured me about some other issues.
Ideally, this evaluation would be paired with a physician’s exam and it should include skin screening to check suspicious lesions. Athletes who exercise outside are exposed to the sun and do run risks with skin cancer. I’d love to see this complete evaluation be available in clinics across the country. Insurance does not cover the costs of this test now, but I’m told they are working on it. Also, a more advanced fitness evaluation is available for athletes in training at ProHealth Labs and is administered by Dr. Max Testa, a expert in exercise medicine. If you feel your training has hit a plateau or you are just wanting to improve your health, these are great evaluations to have. The feedback is extremely helpful; you are no longer just “shooting in the dark” as you set your physical goals. You can see right there on the report card any changes that you need to make to achieve your goals.
The ProHealth Lab in Park City, Utah is offering a Comprehensive Pro-Health 100 Evaluation (valued at $375–or $450 when it includes the core x-rays for those 40 and up) for one of our readers. The catch is that it is only available in Park City, so it works best for Utah residents, but if you are planning a vacation to Park City this winter, you could schedule the test then….
To be entered into this contest, make a comment below. Please give your first name and a legit e-mail address. Contest will run from now until December 8, 2010. Names will be drawn at random. If you win, but are not able to do this evaluation, we will chose another winner by re-drawing a name.
Thanks to Jon-David Ethington (PA-C) and Dr. Thomas D. Rosenberg of the ProHealth Lab!