Okay, guys, this one is just for you. A new year is right around the corner and you’ve been thinking about all those new directions you want to go in. Hopefully, getting and staying healthier is one of them. If so, I’ve got an early holiday gift – make that 5 early gifts – geared to make one of your new year’s resolutions a reality. Here they are:
Resolution No. 1: Make Time For Your Health
At the top of your New Year’s resolutions should be one of the most important ones – making time to get and stay healthier in 2013. But, you really don’t have to wait 3 weeks to start thinking, and then DOING SOMETHING, about safeguarding your health. To spur you along, I’ve put together 5 easy to accomplish things that you can do for yourself, starting right now. By the time the New Year rolls in, you’ll already be ahead of the game and likely feeling a whole lot better to boot. So, here are my Favorite Five things to get a guy’s health back on track:
1. Don’t Ignore It: Us guys have a bad habit of ignoring everything that hurts, throbs, aches, bleeds, whatever. We’d put a Band-Aid on just about anything hoping it’d just go away. With some things that’s true, but with others ignoring symptoms can be dangerous – even life threatening. Here are some of the symptoms you absolutely shouldn’t ignore:
a. Blood in your urine or stool. Sometimes this just can be irritation from something you ate or drank. But it isn’t normal and shouldn’t be ignored. Let your doctor decide which it is.
b. Pronounced shortness of breath, fatigue, sweating, after exertion/exercise. This could mean a blockage somewhere in your heart, or even lung disease, that can be treated before it becomes a larger problem.
c. Chest pain. Heart attack pain is not always on the left side of your chest, or left arm. It can also occur on the right side, or even in the middle of your back, or up in the central neck/chest region. Any type of pain in your chest/back/arm regions that is out of the ordinary, heavy and pressure-like in nature, don’t take chances, get to an emergency room. A sharper chest pain that occurs with exertion and is relieved by rest is more likely angina. This, too, though, should be looked at as it indicates a blocked artery somewhere.
2. Blood pressure watch. Do you know what your baseline blood pressure is? Most people don’t. Even if you have to check it at the drugstore BP machine, you’ll have some idea what yours is. The top number should ideally be around 120. If yours is 140 or over, call your doctor.
3. Diet. With all the football games out there right now, and around the holidays, you might be snacking on too much salty, fatty, or sugary foods, maybe drinking a little too much beer or other mixed drinks. Do your blood pressure a favor and put the brakes on the salt and sugar in your diet especially if your top number is over 120. Too much salt can raise blood pressure significantly. Men typically eat too much salt to begin with – about 6 grams/day – more than double the recommended amount. Surprisingly, too much sugar can raise blood pressure too. Every time you eat a lot of sugar, your blood glucose levels go way up and so can your blood pressure. In addition, wolfing down heavy, fatty/salty meals (like those mile-long submarine sandwiches) along with drinking can even trigger a heart attack. Add more potassium rich foods to your diet like bananas, spinach, tomatoes, and raisins to balance sodium and help blood pressure stay normal. Omit packaged foods which contain way more salt than anyone needs.
4. Exercise. How much do you exercise a day/week? If it’s less than 30-40 minutes, 4-5 times a week, you really need to get up and start moving. Exercise helps normalize blood pressure and blood sugar levels, burns calories, strengthens your heart, and even decreases your risk for many cancers. You can start easy by just plain walking – one of the best exercises for your heart. A 30-40 minute brisk paced walk around your city or somewhere scenic not only boosts your heart health but your mental health as well. Get your wife, or significant other, or friend to sign on for a healthy walk and talk. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel afterwards. Weight training 3 times a week is also important to keep muscles strong as you get older. After age 40, people start to lose muscle mass. Building them back up with weight training can mean the difference between playing that game of basketball with your kids, grandkids, or watching from the sidelines.
5. Colorectal check. I know this test is on the list of a guy’s worst nightmares. Unfortunately, it’s one of those necessary don’t-want to-do things that should be done at least once every 5-10 years over age 50. Colorectal cancers, if found early, are one of the more curable forms of cancer. Especially if you have had a parent, sibling, or other close relative, with colon cancer, or history of colon polyps, before age 60 you need to have a colonoscopy. Any suspicious-looking polyps can be removed at that time and you’ll be way ahead of the game.
So there you are, 5 of the best things a guy can do for his health. I hope you’ll take them to heart and start adding 1 or 2 of them into your life starting today. Then, I hope you will make arrangements, sooner than later, to take care of the other ones.
It’s a typical guy thing to ignore your own health issues but think about how many people rely on you – your kids, your spouse, your parents, maybe even grandkids? You want to be here with them as long into the future as possible don’t you? Paying attention to your health today is the best way you can ensure that you’ll be here with them for many tomorrows.
Have a happy and healthy New Year!
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Natural Health News
Celebrating Men’s Health Week, http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/5-tips-for-celebrating-mens-health-week-201206144885
Sugary Soda Spikes High Blood Pressure, http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/health_stories/Hypertension_Drinks/2011/03/01/378116.html
What Just One High-Saturated Fat Meal Can Do http://lowfatcooking.about.com/b/2006/08/07/what-just-one-high-saturated-fat-meal-can-do.htm
photo credit: wakehealth.edu