What’s in a Personal Prevention Plan?

Aug 1, 2023


If you want to improve your health, one of the best steps you can take is to set goals. Don’t know where to start? Creating a personal prevention plan can help.

What is a personal prevention plan?

A personal prevention plan is an important tool to improve your overall health. You and your healthcare provider work on your personalized prevention plan each year at your Annual Wellness Visit (AWV). AWVs are free, yearly wellness appointments for people with Medicare.

“Each year, we review immunizations, labs, screenings, lifestyle changes—anything that’s relevant to maintaining your health,” explains Cathleen Myers, RN, Adventist Health Lodi Memorial and Connected Care Management. “We personalize each plan to each patient’s needs.”

Your provider gives you a booklet with health maintenance due dates, as well as lifestyle recommendations. Your prevention plan might include:

  • Immunization schedules
  • Preventive screening schedules, such as when to get your next mammogram or colonoscopy
  • Lifestyle changes to manage chronic conditions, such as exercising or eating healthier
  • Resources to quit smoking

Creating a healthier plate

Myers shares that she also reviews a concept called “My Healthy Plate” with patients. “My Healthy Plate” outlines what your food portions should be at each meal:

  • 50% of your plate should be non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach or carrots
  • 25% of your plate should be healthy protein, such as fish or lean chicken
  • 25% of your plate should be whole grains, such as brown rice, corn or a baked potato

As much as possible, focus on consuming healthy fats, such as olive oil, grapeseed oil or avocado. Eating a healthy diet is important for maintaining healthy cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. If you have a chronic condition such as diabetes, you may need more detailed nutritional guidance.

Finding ways to move more

In addition to eating a healthy diet, one of the main pillars of staying healthy is regular movement. The American Heart Association recommends that adults get 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week, which breaks down to five 30-minute sessions. Cardiovascular exercise is anything that elevates your heart rate: walking, swimming, biking or dancing are common examples. People also need two days per week of strengthening exercises. Strengthening exercises could include anything from lifting weights to practicing Pilates to doing bodyweight exercises such as push-ups or squats.

“Some people aren’t ready to jump into 150 minutes a week,” Myers points out. If you haven’t exercised in years, or if you have a condition like arthritis that makes movement difficult, working out five days a week might sound daunting. “We always talk about what you’re already doing and how you can gradually increase your activity,” Myers says. “If you’re walking for 10 minutes a day, can you increase it to 15 minutes? We figure out a plan together for you to gradually work your way up to a healthy routine.”

What should I ask my healthcare provider about my prevention plan?

Before you visit your provider, think about what questions you want to ask. It’s easy to forget what you want to say in the moment, so don’t be embarrassed to write your questions down. You may want to know:

  • What do the numbers on my blood pressure reading mean?
  • What can I do to lower my cholesterol?
  • When do I need my next tetanus shot?
  • How do I read a “Nutrition Facts” label?
  • What foods should I put on my grocery list?

You can go over all these questions at your annual wellness visit or yearly check-up. These visits are crucial opportunities to improve your overall health for years to come. 

If you haven’t scheduled your yearly wellness visit yet, find a provider near you to get started.