Men, this is one of the most important questions that will affect both your professional and personal life more than anything else. Why is your health and wellness important to you?
Did you know that you have the power to control up to 82% of your risk factors for developing high blood pressure and cholesterol, heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cancer? My goal for this article is to empower men to take charge of their health and daily lifestyle choices so they can be the best husband, father, grandfather and leader that they can be at work, home, and in the community.
Get Routine Physical Exams and Screenings
Each year, American men make 150 million fewer doctor visits than women. This occurs across all age groups, education and socioeconomic groups. An American Medical Association (AMA) study concluded that men don’t go to their doctor for a variety of reasons including fear, denial, embarrassment and threats to their masculinity. Don’t let one of these reasons put your health at risk.
Make an appointment for a complete physical exam today, and do this each year. I highly recommend that you do this annually in the fall. If it has been years since you’ve seen your family doctor, don’t wait until the fall; call and schedule your appointment today. After this appointment, set your physical health goals for the year based on the findings of the exam. Conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, certain cancers, diabetes and sexually transmitted diseases may have no symptoms and can only be diagnosed through an examination. Early detection is very important and almost always means a better chance for prevention of the disease, or improved management. So, be sure to ask your doctor how often you should come back for check-ups.
Get your yearly flu shots from your employer and other vaccinations recommended by your doctor. Vaccinations are often required for travel or to reduce job-related risks. If your employer has a wellness program, now is the time for you to get involved.
Screening Tests—What you Need and When
- Blood Pressure: Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years. Your blood pressure is tested every time you go and see your doctor and the best health number is less than 120/ 80. 115/75 or lower is an optimal blood pressure for improved quality of life.
- Cholesterol Checks: Have your cholesterol checked at least every five years, starting at age 35. If you smoke, have diabetes, or if heart disease runs in your family, start having your cholesterol checked at age 20 and do this each year. Best health numbers are: Total Cholesterol less than 200, HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) greater than or equal to 45 (60 and above is optimal), and LDL (bad cholesterol) less than 130 (less than 100 is optimal).
- Colorectal Cancer Tests: Begin regular screening for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. Your doctor can help you decide which test—traditional or virtual colonoscopy-- is right for you.
- Diabetes (fasting blood sugar) Tests: Have a test to screen for pre-diabetes or diabetes if you are overweight and especially if your waist is greater than 37 inches or you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Abdominal fat is the leading risk factor for diabetes in men.
- Depression: If you’ve felt “down,” sad, or hopeless, or felt little interest or pleasure in doing things for two weeks straight, talk to your doctor about whether he or she can screen you for depression.
- Prostate Cancer Screening: Talk to your doctor about the possible benefits of a prostate cancer screening if you are considering having a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test or digital rectal examination (DRE) completed.
Protect Yourself by Thinking Safety
General safety tips:
- Fasten your safety belts
- Wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle or a bike
- Apply proper sunscreen and wear a hat to protect your head, ears and nose
- Install smoke detectors in your home and test them each year
- Wash your hands.
When sitting at work, keep both of your feet flat on the floor and limit time pulling your legs back underneath your chair. Both of these are leading causes of knee stiffness and pain. Don’t cross your legs; this too can cause sciatica, lower back, or knee stiffness or pain. Instead of sitting during work meetings, attempt to stand up at least every hour for three to ten minutes or try walking meetings. It is also good practice to perform two to five dynamic stretches to reduce stiffness and pain. These stretches can be taught by the UnityPoint Health - St. Luke’s WorkSmart Dynamic Stretching Program.
Manage Your Stress Level
Spend quality time daily with your wife, family and friends and take some time to relax. Balance your work, home life and recreation. They are all very important and need your attention. Don’t forget to take days off this summer and keep your smartphone or tablet at home.
Be Good To Yourself
Health is more than the absence of disease. It is a lifestyle choice that begins with you.
- Choose yearly physical exams with your family doctor.
- Get the recommended screening tests for your age and medical history.
- Get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
- Manage your stress levels.
- Practice work/life balance.
- Be tobacco free.
- Choose to eat a healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
- Choose to take the stairs, instead of the elevator.
- Drink 40 or more ounces of water daily to reduce your heart disease risk by 50-60%.
- Eat five or more servings of nuts (palm size is one serving and without added salt) each week for a 40-60% reduction in heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
- Be physically active for 30 or more minutes per day or at least three and a half hours each week.
- Strength train at least two to three each week to build muscle, lose inches of fat around your belly and speed your metabolism and well-being.
Men, taking care of your body’s health and well-being daily are paramount for you and your family’s quality of life at work, home, school, and play. Wishing men a “Happy Father’s Day” on June 21st!