16 Jan Time for a Tune-Up?
You get your car’s oil changed regularly…but when was the last time you had your health checked?
For a lot of men, going to the doctor’s office seems like the march of defeat. They finally give in once they have been advised (or some would say “nagged”) by their loved ones to get a medical checkup. Instead, it should be a sign of readiness for battle, ensuring and proactively taking control of your health and body so it can remain strong for whatever you may encounter in the present and future.
There are many factors that put men at more risk for certain diseases and conditions. Here are some simple facts as to why men should take their health seriously:
- In the last century Americans have increased their life expectancy, but men still die on average 5 years earlier than women.
- The leading cause of death across all races for men is heart disease.
- About 1 in 2 men have a risk of developing a cancer in their lifetime, whereas only 1 in 3 women will (www.cancer.org).
- Men die from suicide at a rate four times that of women.
- Men suffer hearing loss at twice the rate of women.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, women are 100% more likely to visit their doctor for yearly checkups than men. Visiting the doctor is an opportunity to talk about disease prevention as it applies specifically to you and to discuss a plan which involves positive changes in your daily life which will reduce your risk of disease development.
How to Get Started
The first step in making a difference is eating healthy. Choosing smaller portions sizes, eating more fruits and vegetables, choosing a variety of foods to get all the essential vitamins and minerals in your diet, and maintaining a low-glycemic diet is a huge step on your path to wellness. To get started, make a simple change like adding one fruit or vegetable to each meal. Try to make it so your plate has more fruits, vegetables, and proteins and less carbohydrates.
At any age, making activity a daily part of your routine is key. Get moving! I always hear patients say they “just don’t have time.” My response is, “If you have time in your day to watch your favorite 30-minute TV show, then you have time to exercise.” Exercise must become a priority. Park your car a little further than usual. Make your yard-work chores your workout for the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Get outside and play with the kids. Anything that makes you sweat and increases your heart rate is making your heart a little healthier with each beat.
Make prevention a priority. Even though taking time off work to go to the doctor for an annual checkup seems like a chore, think of it as an investment. Regular screenings with your doctor can help prevent or result in early detection of many diseases. Your doctor can address your blood pressure, cholesterol, and prostate health, as well as many other conditions.
In summary, seeing your primary care physician for at least an annual physical exam is no different than the regular maintenance you provide on your car or your house (the big difference is that your car and your house can be replaced).