Mind and Body

Wellness assessment may be key to living fit, healthy life

FoxNews.com's Meg Baker checks out a wellness assessment test geared towards helping to achieve your fitness goals.  Find out how the results can balance your life


Results. That’s what everyone hopes to see when starting a new program to meet their health objectives. For many, this means losing weight. But what if the pounds aren't coming off as fast as you'd like? A full body and overall wellness assessment done by a trained professional or doctor can show you how to get healthy through proper diet, working out and medical care.  

What goes into this comprehensive check up? A series of tests, lifestyle questions, measurements and movements—all concluding that your best bet to leading a balanced life is through proper diet, exercise, and regular medical checkups.

So are you in shape – or out?

Proper nutrition is essential for providing energy – both physically and mentally. After discussing your daily eating habits, a trainer can pinpoint areas for improvement.

“Your diet plays a huge role, your fiber intake and the nutrients and minerals that your body is taking in to feed the system and keeping the system running clean,”  Rick Garrigan, T4 Coach and EFTI Master Instructor at Equinox in New York City, told Foxnews.com.

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Answers to questions regarding daily caffeine intake, glasses of water a day, servings of fruit and veggies compared to snack foods indicate what range your habits lie in: poor, fair, average, good or excellent.

The results not only tell you where you can improve, but offers guidance. Suggestions for feeding your body what it needs include eating a variety of unrefined foods, rich in fiber, low in fat, cholesterol and salt.

“I like to recommend to people that 50-55 percent of every meal be raw—think salads and veggies,” Garrigan said, adding that you should have about 4-5 servings of fruit and veggies a day.

“Think the fewer legs the better when it comes to protein.”  So choose fish or white poultry over red meats.

Eat whole foods – think “the rainbow at every meal,” Garrigan added.

When it comes to dairy, think low-fat and choose whole grain breads. Avoid  fast foods, pack your own lunch and eat breakfast to avoid high-fat snacking throughout the day.

Resting Metabolic Rate
The resting metabolic rate (RMR) “give us an indication of how many calories your body uses at rest for all the functions in your body, to work right,” Garrigan said.

This number comes into play especially when formulating a nutrition plan in conjunction with a workout schedule. It’s helpful to see the number of calories you need to keep your energy up in comparison to how many you burn while exercising.

Cardiovascular Assessment
A treadmill test incorporating a heart rate monitor and breathing mask determines cardiovascular fitness—the ability of the heart, lungs and circulatory system to supply oxygen and nutrients to working muscles efficiently. Your VO2 level or aerobic fitness can give your trainer an indication of where to start your exercise regiments.

There are many benefits of regular exercise, like a reduced risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, an increase of circulation, and of course you will look and feel better.

Blood Pressure
Keeping your blood pressure at a normal range 120/80 and below greatly reduces your risk of heart attack. Changing your lifestyle or living habits can dramatically effect this number. Some suggestions for staying in the healthy range are to exercise regularly, control weight, limit alcohol, and avoid excess salt and fats.

Heart Disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. The primary risk factors include smoking--which automatically adds 9 risk points to your score, high cholesterol which is often linked with high blood pressure, and physical inactivity. So again, “nutrition is a key factor,” Garrigan told Foxnews.com.

On a day-to-day basis you can control this by avoiding foods high in saturated fats like butter, cheese and fried foods. And of course, remain active.

A look into your families’ past health history can tell you what, if any, cancers you may be susceptible to. If a close member of your family (like you mom or dad) suffered from cancer, with guidance you can take steps to prevent yourself from going through the same.

Sixty to 80 percent of cancers are preventable. A change in diet focusing on whole foods away from fat seems to be the key to keeping all functions in healthy standing. “Avoid packaged foods so your body’s energy is used most efficiently, and not wasting time breaking down chemicals,” Garrigan stressed.

Stress can lead to many health issues like the ones mentioned above.
Garrigan suggested having a way to manage symptoms –  "Sometimes just a nice walk can do the trick."

Other protocol suggestions for keeping stress at bay are to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep, become more organized, learn to say no, and practicing how to relax through activities you enjoy. Laughing is also a good way to reduce tension.

Body Composition
Body composition refers to the proportions of body weight in terms of lean body mass and body fat. A series of height and weight measurements and pinches calculates your BMI.  It is essential to have some body fat to perform bodily functions, but an excess can pose huge health risks.

Having a professional literally size you up can pinpoint certain issues, you have not noticed.  

“We can relate these sites in many ways to different stressors, different hormones,  different things going on in your body,” Garrigan said.

After thorough analysis of the data collected, a prevention plan is created. As a trainee, you can get the most out of this information by acknowledging possible risks, and monitoring health with proper medical care—exams and screenings and by following the suggestions above.

“It’s a preventative care program.  We develop relationships with you and your doctors, so if you are on medications or see a change in health we can address this.” Garrigan said.

Body Age
Adding some motivation to your get-fit endeavor, an unscientific “body age” is calculated with the results. Ideally, your body age should be at least the same as your chronological age. Of course we would all like to be younger, and this self-study shows you how. Your obtainable body age is what you realistically can reach with a well-rounded program.

So now you are at the starting line. You are educated with the tools to succeed. The results of the comprehensive wellness exam capture how our choices effect our bodies and how we can play an active role in building our way towards a healthy, productive and long lived life.

Ask your doctor or fitness center if they offer full wellness exams. Become a member of Equinox's T4 program by signing up here.