What’s a PHI you ask? A PHI or personal health indicator is a vital health statistic that should be the canary in your health coal mine. A personal health indicator measures your health and provides a basis for comparison over time. You can also use your PHIs to compare your data to other people like you. Each of us will have our own set of PHIs that are specific to our individual situations. For instance a diabetic will want to track A1C levels while an olympic athlete may track resting heart rate. The number of PHIs you can track is endless, but the following are a good sample of the most prevalent.
- Blood pressure
- Heart Rate
- Sleep Activity
- Vegetable Consumption
- Alcohol Consumption
- Steps (pedometer-based)
- A1C Level
- Respiration Rate
- Bone Density (For women and at risk men e.g. celiac disease)
- Bowel Frequency
- Basal Body Temperature
- Your Mile Run Time
We could go on, but you get the picture. As I have said before, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. By tracking your personal health indicators you will be aware of small changes that you might not normally catch. These changes are a part of your personal health early warning system. The more aware you are of how you are progressing- or regressing- as it relates to your PHIs, the more empowered and proactive you will become. You will find it becomes almost a contest with yourself to improve your scores. My wife and I will create mini-competitions as it relates to % of weight loss.
Another benefit is that by measuring you will be more aware of your behaviors. For instance, when I measure my weight every morning I eat better that day compared to days where I forgot to measure. I don’t plan it that way, but inevitably the more I keep track the better I do against my goals. If you are interested in tools that can help you measure and manage your health, I wrote a post on the Fitbit which addresses some of these issues. The Fitbit even offers community so you can leverage the power of your peers to keep you on target.
There are a tremendous amount of resources available, especially since healthcare inflation is being driven by how unhealthy we are as a nation. Not to get on a soap box, but I believe improving our collective health is one of the great challenges of our generation. Our debt is largely being driven by rising healthcare costs and our costs are rising because we have become an unhealthy nation. In fact, according to the CDC 68.3% of us are overweight or obese 1. This is driving a dramatic increase in lifestyle related disease such as diabetes and heart disease. As a country, we will never be successful addressing our rising healthcare costs until individuals start taking responsibility for their personal health. This effort starts with each of us tracking our PHIs.
To learn more about preventative health, screening and what you should be doing, I suggest taking a look at the US Government’s Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (www.ahrq.gov) recommendations on staying healthy.
- Women: Stay Healthy at Any Age
- Women: Stay Healthy 50+
- Men: Stay Healthy at Any Age
- Men: Stay Healthy 50+
Getting started is easy. If you don’t want to use a computer, track your PHIs in a health journal. Its doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it.
So tell me, what PHIs do you track?
- http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/overwt.htm ↩