Medical Tests For Better Health: Disease Prevention With Health Tests | BiOptimizers
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Medical Tests For Better Health: Disease Prevention With Health Tests

Medical Tests For Better Health: Disease Prevention With Health Tests

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Did you see the movie “Young Guns”?

If you haven’t it’s basically the story of “Billy the Kid” a notorious gunslinger and a group of gunslingers’ who are being chased by the law.

In one particular scene with Billy, played by Emilio Estevez, he’s asked by a woman why he keeps gunslinging.  His reply is basically “I’m the best gunslinger there is, but if I don’t keep testing myself, one day, someone is going to be faster than me.  So I test myself everyday”.

While I don’t recommend becoming a gunslinger I will say that Billy had something right:

If you want to be the best you can be you must test yourself often.  This applies to fitness as much as any other topic that you desire to improve.

As you go about making positive changes in your health, fitness, and nutrition, there comes a time when you’re going to want to assess how you’re doing.

Are you seeing results?

Is all the hard work really paying off?

Should you be making changes?

Unless you have a very focused way of determining these things, it can be a real struggle to know what’s what.

Fortunately, there are a number of tests that you can perform that will help you learn the facts about your progression.

Check out the video below for a thorough discussion of what each of these tests we’ll talk about below entails.

So now that you have that overview of each of these tests, let’s look a little more further into each one, discussing why they should be done, who they are best suited for, and how often you should be doing them.

Test #1: Body Fat Test

Woman measuring fat belly. Overweight and weight loss concept.

The body fat test. Of all the tests you do, this is the one that you may dread the most. How does your body fat stack up?

If you’ve been training hard and eating well, you may be excited to see the news. If you haven’t however, consider this your ‘moment of truth’.

A body fat test can be performed in a number of different manners ranging from very basic BMI test to the very accurate and scientific DEXA scan test.

The BMI is not recommended for most as it does not take into account how much muscle you have. So while it may let you know whether you fall into a healthy or overweight range, it’s not especially accurate for athletic people.

The DEXA scan on the other hand, is extremely accurate and will not only tell you body fat, but give other important details such as bone density and where you store your body fat.

Since centrally located body fat (around your tummy) is most dangerous, this could be important information that you need to know.

Of course you also have underwater weighing and skin calipers as means of testing body fat as well, both of which can work quite well, but are less accurate than the DEXA.

Here are the details.

Why Do This Test?

There are many reasons why one would want to do a body fat test.

  •      Program evaluation

Wondering if your workouts are really paying off? Curious as to how well your diet is working? A body fat test can give you some important details. As most programs do have the goal of either adding more lean muscle mass or burning off body fat, the body fat test will let you know how well you are moving along.

This can then help you assess your program and figure out what you may need to change.

  •      Disease risk

As there are a number of health problems that are associated with excess body fat, this test can give you a very good estimation of whether you need to take losing weight more seriously.

Especially if you get the DEXA scan, if you then discover you are storing high volumes of fat in the abdominal region, you’ll then be able to adopt a diet to help combat this.

It’s not a coincidence that the national disease risk is rising right along with the national obesity rate. A body fat test should be a key element of a disease prevention program.

  •      Aesthetics/contest

Finally, you may also want to do a body fat test simply to assess your aesthetics. How lean are you? At what body fat do you feel you look best? Or, perhaps you are competing in a bodybuilding show and need to get to a certain percentage to walk on stage.

A body fat test will tell you all of these.

Who Needs It?

So who should do the body fat test?

Virtually everyone.

The only individuals who may not need to worry about this are those who are simply looking to get fit who don’t especially care too much about their appearance and who know they are not carrying excess body weight.

And even then, most people are simply curious, so it’s a great idea to get it done anyway.

Everyone can benefit from having this test done.

Those who will really want to pay close attention to it are:

  •      Those doing intense programs to build muscle and/or burn fat
  •      High level athletes
  •      Fitness and/or bodybuilding competitors
  •      Those at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke

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How Often Should You Do It?

It can take some time for your body fat levels to change, so this isn’t a test you need to be doing on a weekly basis.

Generally speaking, going once every 3-6 months would be a good starting point for most people. If you are training for a contest or other sport that is heavily dependent on body fat percentages, then you may wish to test every month or so as this will allow you to make more precise changes in the program you are using.

But for most average individuals doing a test two to four times per year is a good place to start. If you are healthy, fit, and just going for curiosity, once per year would be sufficient.

Test #2: Bone Density

Vertebrae Anatomy With Ciculatory System The next test to consider is bone density test. If you choose to do a DEXA scan to assess body fat, you’ll also be getting a bone density test while you’re at it.

Otherwise, your doctor may prescribe you to get a bone density test, in which case a DEXA scan will be utilized as well.

Why Do This Test?

So why do a bone density test? Again, there are a few reasons why you might want to do one.

  •      Assess a training program

Just as your muscles get stronger when you are doing a workout program, your bones will get stronger as well.
A bone density test can help you learn how strong your bones are getting from your regular training session.

If someone in you family suffers from severe osteoporosis for instance, this might be very important information as doing what you can to build strong bones will serve you well into the future.

  •      Assess your risk for bone breaks/stress fractures

Another great reason to consider bone density tests is to assess for your risk of bone breaks and/or stress fractures. You can see just how dense your bones are, giving you indication of how hard you should/can push when doing various exercises.

A DEXA scan will also indicate which bones have the lowest density as well, so this can give you important details. If you know that your wrist joint is quite weak for instance, this might give you impetus to start wearing a wrist wrap while in the gym.

  •      Review healing after a bone break/stress fracture

Finally, if you have suffered from a bone break or stress fracture before, a bone density test can also help you assess for healing.

You can see how well your body is bouncing back from that injury and if there’s anything you need to be doing to help promote faster healing.

Who Needs It?

When it comes to bone density tests, the most important individuals to consider this test are:

  •      Aging adults

 

  •      Athletes doing heavy training

 

 

  •      Those suffering from osteoporosis

 

 

  •      Women who are not menstruating but are of age to do so (as this can deplete bone density)

 

 

  •      Those recovering from bone breaks/injuries

 

 

How Often Should You Do It?

As bone remodeling is an even slower process than muscle growth, you won’t need to do bone density testing as often.

Once per year should be fine or even once per two years depending on how important the information is to you.

Those who are recovering from injuries or who are doing high level athletic training may choose to do it more frequently so they can be sure to make adjustments in their workout program accordingly.

Test #3: Max VO2

Running man. Male runner at sprinting speed training for maratho Of all the physical performance tests you could do, the VO2 max test is one of the most challenging. This test is designed to test your lung capacity and determine just how intense you are able to exercise.

Why Do This Test?

This is a great test to be performing if you want to assess your current level of fitness and determine where you are in relation to your goals. Athletes may also compare their own VO2 max results with other plays of the same sport/activity they are doing to see how they stand. This can give them good clues as to how their training program is going and where they may still be in need of improvement. Doing this test can help you learn a few things. These include:

  •      Your heart health

As your VO2 max is a function of how healthy and strong your heart is, this is a great test to assess your cardiovascular fitness level.

While there are other tests that will also assess this, the VO2 max test tends to be one of the best ones to utilize.

  •      Your ability to perform optimally

The VO2 max test is going to indicate how hard you can work while still being able to utilize oxygen as a fuel source, so in essence, it gives you great indication of your ability to perform optimally.

Those who have a higher VO2 max tend to be able to workout harder for longer and thus will be better equipped to see positive improvements in their fitness level.

  •      Program effectiveness

Which brings us to the next reason to do a VO2 max test – program assessment. By doing this test, you can look at how well your program is working and whether you may need to make some changes to the way you train.

If you are specifically trying to boost your VO2 max, you can really look at various training modalities and learn which is best for you.

Trainers may also use this test to evaluate training protocols so they can then make faster improvements in any athletes/trainees they work with.

Who Needs It?

Because this test is assessing high levels of performance, it’s most often beneficial for those who are doing more intense forms of activity or sport.

If you are a weekend warrior who heads out for some recreational exercise each weekend to promote better health, chances are you won’t need to be doing a VO2 max test any time soon.

However if you are someone who is serious about your fitness and training hard each and every week, a VO2 max can be a great test to do.

It’ll most often be utilized by those who are doing aerobic types of activities so this might include marathon runners, soccer players, hockey players, track and field athletes, or other athletes who are required to exercise for an ongoing length of time.

How Often Should You Do It?

If you are involved in a training program designed to boost your VO2 max, it’s suggested that you perform this test once a week to look for progression.

With the right training program, you can make fast improvements to this level of fitness, so monitoring this will be key.

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Test #4: Regular Blood Test

Blood chemistry testing

The next health test that’s a good one to include in your program is a regular blood test. This can be ordered through your MD and is often done for a wide number of reasons.

Why Do This Test?

This test is a good one to do any time you are facing a potential health issue. It’s often run to look at your blood mineral contents (iron, potassium, etc.), your hormonal levels (estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, DHEA), your kidney or liver function, your thyroid function or to assess heart health related factors such as your cholesterol levels.

If you really want to step up your game, you can also do a live blood cell test, which is an even better way to look at your health and is also performed by an MD.

This test is not always available however, so you will have to see whether it is in the state/area you are currently in.

The live blood cell test is a great way to assess a variety of advanced health indicators such as whether your blood cells are sticking together, how high the oxygen levels are in your blood, whether there is great amounts of oxidative damage, whether there is crystallization that may be occurring due to a high intake of acid-forming foods and/or beverages, and so on.

This is really a very inclusive test that I highly recommend to all individuals I work with. If you are serious about improving your health, this test will really help.

Who Needs It?

Just about everyone can benefit from a live blood cell test (or a regular blood test).

Don’t think that you should only do this if you are experiencing a problem. Sometimes issues can show up in your blood before you even realize that there is a problem taking place.

By being proactive, you can spot them before they become a bigger issue that you’ll then need to deal with.

If you are dealing with specific health concerns, your physician will likely order tests to be done more frequently, so you should do them at the instruction of your doctor.

How Often Should You Do It?

As a general rule, a once yearly blood test or live blood test is a good idea to get a thorough picture of what’s going on if you are an otherwise healthy individual.

As noted, if you are dealing with specific conditions, you may need to go more often and will be instructed this by your MD.

Test #5: Genetic Testing

Genetic testing is an interesting test that few people ever even consider doing, however is one that can relay important information about your health.

Why Do This Test?

The first reason you might consider doing this test is simply to learn more about your ancestors. It can give you a good idea into your background, learning more about those who came before you.

The more important reason to consider this test however is because it can give you clues as to what your risk-factors are for certain diseases and conditions.

As many diseases and illnesses are hereditary, at least to some extent, genetic testing can help you identify whether this may be a concern for you.

If you find out it is, you can then start making adjustments to your nutrition or lifestyle in order to help minimize the chances that you do fall ill.

Who Needs It?

Everyone will benefit from doing genetic testing just to find out more about their background. Think of it as a very strong lesson in prevention.

Of course there are those who prefer not to know if a very serious illness may potential hit them as they get older as it can change their outlook on life.

This will be a personal decision you will have to make. But, if you know that a very close family member is suffering from a condition, it likely is in your best interest to get tested so that you can take appropriate action to do all you can to safeguard yourself.

The other group of individuals who can benefit from genetic testing are pregnant women, as it can help you learn whether your baby is at risk or will suffer from health concerns or problems.

How Often Should You Do It?

Most people will only need to have this test done once in their life in order to get a pretty good indication which conditions they may be at risk for.

This doesn’t mean you can’t do it every 10-20 years if you feel you would like to in order to really assess your current health, but after the initial test is performed, it’s unlikely you will see changes.

Test #6: Chiropractic Spinal Testing

Chiropractic testing is a great health optimization testing that can be good for anyone who is hoping to improve their physical performance. It’s typically performed by a chiropractor, so those who are seeking their services may be utilizing this test already.

Why Do This Test?

This test is great for checking your overall postural alignment. As proper posture is key for maintaining energy levels (as it can influence oxygen flow into the body), preventing back pain and other injuries, and making sure that you are developing strong muscles in your back, this test can assess for weaknesses.

The chiropractor will look at your current spinal column alignment and from there, be able to better determine which changes need to be made in order to help you achieve that perfect S-curve that you should be maintaining.

Who Needs It?

While this test will benefit just about everyone, those who are suffering from back pain related problems will be especially benefited by it.

Just remember – often your back can be off without you even realizing it. Many people today are walking around with poor posture and spinal column curves they should not have.

How Often Should You Do It?

Ideally you’ll want to do this test every few months or so, or as recommended by your chiropractor. If you are especially active and/or involved in contact sports, you may want to do it more frequently as the chances of shifts may be greater.

Test #7: Strength Tests

Woman Flipping A Huge Tire At Gym

If you have been hitting the gym hard in the recent months, strength tests are another category of tests that you’ll want to perform.

There are a great range of strength tests that can be done to assess sheer muscular strength (such as your one rep max test) as well as your muscular endurance.

Why Do This Test?

These tests are an excellent way to help assess a few things. They can:

  •      Reveal the effectiveness of a training program

If you aren’t gaining strength but yet are training for strength, clearly something is wrong with your program set-up. A strength test can help reveal this and help you then learn to make important changes as required to your program.

  •      Assess for lean muscle mass loss during dieting

As you are at risk for losing muscle when on a low calorie diet plan, a strength test can assess for this. Generally speaking, if you maintain strength while dieting, that’s a good indication you are losing fat, not muscle.

  •      Compare you to other athletes in your field

If you are a very competitive athlete, a strength test can help you compare yourself to others and see how you rank. This can give you a good idea of what areas you may need to focus on to bring up your performance.

  •      Help identify muscle weaknesses that may put you at risk for injury

If you are stronger in certain muscles and weaker than others, this could put you at risk for muscular imbalances that lead to injury.

Likewise, if certain muscles are just weak altogether, this too can increase your risk for injury.

Who Needs It?

Those who are participating in a strength training program are best served by doing strength tests, as well as those who are athletes training hard for a sport.

Those who are worried about their injury risk associated with getting older (and the muscle loss that typically comes with age), will also benefit from doing strength tests.

How Often Should You Do It?

Doing a strength test every 6-8 weeks of consistent training should give you a good idea where you stand. You may choose to do this more frequently depending on your individual training program and intensity.

Test #8: Hormone Testing (Blood & Urine)

Finally, the last of the health tests to consider doing are hormone testing. These tests are also a medical test that are ordered by your MD for a wide variety of different reasons.

These hormone tests can assess key hormones in the body such as testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone.

Why Do This Test?

This test is often performed to help you assess your sex hormones to find out if they are optimized and serving you well.

For instance, couples who are struggling to become pregnant will often undergo frequent hormone testing to try and assess where the problem is and whether treatments are working.

Likewise, mean who are not quite feeling like themselves may also undergo hormone testing to see whether their testosterone levels are in a healthy range.

Who Needs It?

Typically your doctor will prescribe these tests if he or she feels you need them due to a health issue that you are experiencing.

Male athletes who are training hard may also want to keep tabs on their testosterone levels as this too can influence how optimized their body is. As testosterone is a key hormone involved in muscle growth and performance, it’s one that you do want to monitor.

How Often Should You Do It?

Hormone testing should be done on recommendation of your physician. You may do it anywhere from once a month or more frequently to every six to twelve months depending on the issue at hand.

So there you have a closer look at the many health tests that you can perform to look at how optimized your body is. It’s important that as you make changes, you are doing these tests as they will really help you see whether your hard work is paying off.

And if you don’t get the results that you are hoping for, you can then make changes so as to not waste any more time on a program that isn’t delivering.

Get in the habit of investing some time to doing these tests every so often and it will serve you well.

Want more info on what else you can do to optimize your health? Check out my 84 day optimization course.

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4 Comments. Leave new

All very interesting learning about the different tests you can have done, but given I have no faith in GP here in UK, I would rather not ask them as they are just useless… If anyone can direct me to any clinic in London to have the Bone Density and DEXA then it would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Reply
Wade Lightheart
May 2, 2016 5:32 pm

A quick Google search ought to help you out. You can also look up a place called Lucky’s gym. I’ve worked with the management of the company and they are a great bunch of guys not into fluff. Start there as they can also point you in the right direction.

Reply

DEXA scans are notoriously misleading. The norms done by the manufacturer of these devices are mostly very wrong for local measures. This has been demonstrated many times and published. The device company has worked hard to silence critics who made their own local databases in order to make these results more meaningful. Sometimes the means are off by a factor of two!

Reply
Wade Lightheart
May 2, 2016 5:32 pm

Hi Bruce, Over the last 25 years, I found one consistent argument for fat loss and fat gain when it comes to testing… Nobody seems to agree. As far as fat testing my suggestion is for people to use several methods and compare results. Second do so on a regular basis. Three use visual cues such as pictures front, side, and backwards. Ultimately numerical data should be backed up by common sense. The reality is over the last 25 years there has been a lot of controversy in this topic and I think it will continue for sometime. Here’s why: Most people’s Ego attachments to a methodology or number create cognitive biases which influence outcomes, statistical validity, and accuracy. Being fat in most parts of the world is uncomfortable socially and psychologically and most people will find ways to evade the truth to minimize social and psychological pain. That’s human nature.

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