President’s Corner, 1Q18 “New Year’s Resolutions – A Checklist for Health and Continued Flying”

New Year’s resolutions are a traditions for many who reflect back on the previous year and resolve to improve aspects of their lives.  Many resolutions have to do with both physical and mental health, as well as personal happiness.  Unfortunately according to some pundits, most resolutions are discarded by mid-February and old behaviors return.

If we think of our resolutions like we do checklists, our chance of self-improvement increases dramatically over the year.  As pilots, we refer to a written checklist before every flight and at various critical phases of flight (at least we are supposed to according to FAA Practical Test Standards and airline guidance).  This is to ensure consistency in our operations based on manufacturer’s guidance, operational experience and aircraft capabilities.  Events may occur during flights that lead us to referring to emergency checklists or working as a team with other qualified crew members, Air Traffic Control or company ground resources.  The intended result is a safe flight.

What if we treated our New Year’s resolutions the same?  Would it lead to healthier happier lives?  Would it enhance our careers and longevity?  Would we be prepared for unanticipated events and have a better than expected outcome?

These are some of the items on a generic New Year’s resolution – Checklist for a Healthy Flight through Life:

• Have good relations with a trusted primary care physician and get a checkup.

• Complete all age appropriate, risk based screening exams (mammography, colonoscopy, etc.).

• Make sure all immunizations are up to date, especially if travelling overseas.  Get flu shot each year.

• See a dentist and follow recommendations – Dental disease can lead to heart problems and others.

• Get 150 minutes or more of aerobic exercise a week and do some weight bearing resistance exercise.

• Find a calorie appropriate, nutrition-rich meal plan that you ENJOY and can stick with for a year.

• Take prescribed medications on schedule and check to see what medications you could safely stop.

• If you are always tired, have hypertension, chronic headaches and snore – get a sleep apnea evaluation.

• Buckle your seatbelts, wear a helmet for high speed sports, think twice about riding a motorcycle.

• Limit alcohol intake to healthy amounts (2 drinks per day for me). Ask for help if you can’t stop.

• Seek healthy relationships with family and trusted friends.  Counseling can help with even minor problems.

The good news about this checklist is that even though many of these resolutions may lead to medical visits and further evaluations or consultation that would require reporting on your FAA medical application, most are not disqualifying.  If a condition that does not meet FAA medical standards is discovered, in the overwhelming majority of cases, it can be treated and cleared for flying.  Better yet, you will be healthier, able to fly longer, feel better and live a longer, happier life.  That will make your flight through 2018 both personally and professionally rewarding.  Contact our AMAS physician staff for further guidance and the implications for your FAA medical certification if you have a question about one of these areas or any medical condition that arises.  Without your proactive approach to your health, just like your dedication to safe flying, you won’t be fully prepared for the surprises the New Year may have for you.

Be Healthy, Fly Safely,