Making Men's Health a Priority
How many men do you know who have a “spare tire” covering up their once strong and powerful abdominal muscles? This spare tire is really no laughing matter. Excess belly fat often warns of many health problems or risk of disease ranging from heart disease, cancer, diabetes (type II), arthritis (lower back, hips, knees and ankles), chronic lower back pain and sleep apnea. Men with these risk factors also tend to have daily struggles with lack of energy and reduced self esteem.
In recognition of Father’s Day and Men’s Health Week (June 15-21), I encourage men across Siouxland to take charge of their health.
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 these reasons put your own health at risk. Make an appointment for a complete physical exam today, and do this every year.
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 you travel a lot for your job. If your employer has a wellness program, now is the time to get involved.
Screening Tests—What you Need and When:
- Blood Pressure: Have your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years. The best health number is < (less than) 120/ 80.
- Cholesterol Checks: Have your cholesterol checked at least every 5 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. Optimal numbers are total cholesterol < than 200, HDL cholesterol > or equal to 45 (60 and above is optimal), and LDL less than 130 (less than 100 is optimal).
- Colorectal Cancer Tests: Begin regular screenings for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. Your doctor can help you decide which test is right for you: traditional colonoscopy or virtual colonoscopy. If you are over 50 and haven’t had this test, please schedule yours today. Your family will thank you.
- Diabetes Tests: Have a test to screen for pre-diabetes or diabetes if you are overweight or obese and especially if your waist is greater than 37 inches or you have high blood pressure or cholesterol.
- Depression: If you’ve felt “down,” sad, or hopeless or felt little interest or pleasure in doing things for 2 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 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 and Working Smart!
Fasten your safety belts, wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle or bike, apply proper sunscreen, install smoke detectors in your home and test them each year, build safe and healthy relationships with family and friends and wash your hands.
Manage Your Stress Level:
Spend quality time with your wife, family and friends. Balance your work, home life and play. They are all very important and need your attention. Stay positive and encourage others daily! Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
Be Good To Yourself:
Health is more than the absence of disease; it is a lifestyle choice that begins with you. Here are some additional tips to remember:
- Be tobacco free. Choose to stop smoking or chewing tobacco.
- Eat a healthy breakfast daily.
- Drink 40 or more ounces of water daily to reduce your heart disease risk by 50-60%.
- Eat 5 or more servings of nuts (palm size is 1 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 2.5 hours each week. Look to make this activity something that you enjoy, and look to sweat for your heart, body and mind’s wellness! It will reduce your risks of heart disease, diabetes and cancer by 40 to 60%.
- Strength train at least 2 or more times each week to build muscle, lose inches of fat around your belly and speed your metabolism.
- Men’s Health—The Basics by WellSource 2006
- CDC and Prevention website www.cdc.gov/family/tips
- US Dept of Health and Human Services website
- “Pot Bellies Warn of Later Problems” by Bruce E Beans “Health and You” 2008
- Your Heart is in Your Hands www.ltgovernorschallenge.us Brochure NLGA Lt. Governor Patty Judge’s 12 week wellness challenge for physical activity and eating fruits and vegetables daily