OSU Physicals Go Beyond Basics

Captured by The Columbus Dispatch

Erica Taffany is 25 years old and thin. She’s no stranger to workouts, but since college, she found herself exercising less.

Still, she figured she was healthy. Then she recently saw her doctor, who suggested she undergo a more in-depth physical.

Taffany, who lives in the Short North, thought it was a good idea and paid $50 for an assessment at the Labs in Life installment at COSI.

There, she learned that her cardiovascular strength was below normal for her age. So was her flexibility. To top it off, her body fat was much higher than she expected, even though she’s at an ideal weight, according to her body mass index, or BMI.

Taffany sees Dr. Anup Kanodia, a family practitioner who is part of the Center for Personalized Health Care at Ohio State University Medical Center.

Ohio State is putting a major emphasis on “P4 medicine,” which stands for predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory, including the recent addition of a P4 scholars program to its medical school.

With that philosophy in mind, Kanodia decided he’d like to get more out of his patients’ physicals than the standard measures of weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and resting pulse.

Whether a person is fat or thin doesn’t tell the whole story, he said.

“BMI is not the best way to look at physical fitness. Many people have a high BMI who exercise and are a lot healthier than people with a low BMI who are couch potatoes. There’s a thing called ‘skinny fat,'” Kanodia said.

And simply advising patients to exercise a few times a week leaves a lot out of the conversation.

“I ask them what they want out of life; do they want to be the best gardener? The best grandma?”

More-detailed information on physical health, including strength, body fat and flexibility, can help patients improve their quality of life, Kanodia said.

The program at COSI (which is run by Ohio State researchers) was a good fit for Kanodia and his partner in the effort, James Onate, co-director of OSU Sports Medicine’s movement-analysis and performance-research program.

The analysis gives a comparison of strength, aerobic endurance and flexibility and compares those against population-based data. That way, patients find out how they compare with others their age, Onate said. Read more…

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