What can a children’s story teach us about being proactive with prevention?

By Jonathan Dugas
Health professionals filling out forms - Vitality

Parents in 2022 may or may not know about Aesop and the many fables he penned. Tortoise and the Hare, anyone? He is also credited with the Ant and the Grasshopper, in which a carefree grasshopper learns a hard lesson about being proactive. The grasshopper sees the ant preparing for winter and wonders why isn’t the ant enjoying the summer and having fun. Naturally, the ant indicates that winter will soon be here, and she needs to be ready to survive. Winter does arrive, and the grasshopper is literally left out in the cold. When approaching ant for help, she kindly informs the grasshopper that “It’s wise to worry about tomorrow, today.”

In many ways engaging in prevention activities is very much about worrying about tomorrow today. This is especially true for health screening tests. The aim of these tests is to detect a disease or condition even before you have any signs or symptoms. In so doing, we can possibly reverse the onset of the disease or begin treatment at a very early stage, which can greatly improve the long-term outcomes.

Whether they know it or not, Vitality members engage with health screenings every year. The Vitality Check is a special bundle of health screens that tests for several highly prevalent conditions:  hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, which in and of itself is associated with a long list of additional conditions. The magic of the Vitality Check is that by screening for non-communicable diseases, which are sometimes referred to as “lifestyle diseases,” we can detect health risk sooner than later, and then help motivate individuals to engage in healthy lifestyle habits that can reverse their health risk.

In the same way that the pen can be mightier than the sword, at Vitality we tend to think that the carrot is mightier than the stick. By providing appropriate yet powerful incentives Vitality takes a “carrot” approach to helping people increase their physical activity, eat healthier, better manage their stress, and generally move toward a healthier lifestyle.

With a PhD in Exercise Physiology, Jonathan Dugas spends his days thinking about how we can help more people be more active.  With four Ironman finishes and 13 marathons and counting, he’ll see you out on the road.

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