I’m not talking about for your car or for any other machine you might use. I’m talking about for your body. When it comes to your car, a breakdown is an expensive problem to have. If you don’t take care of it and give it the attention it needs, a little problem can become a big one. When it’s your body you neglect, it can have life-altering consequences.
The end of the year is upon us and healthy living includes getting a physical once a year, getting your vital stats checked out and knowing what you can do to take better care of yourself.
[tw-divider]Knowledge is power[/tw-divider]
Unfortunately for us, the human body lacks a console with gauges and lights to warn us when we’ve got a problem. That’s why it’s important to see your doctor once a year and get the appropriate tests done. Doctors are also trained to look for physical changes to your body that can indicate problems, so a face-to-face physical examination at least once a year is recommended.
Routine physicals should include the following tests:
- Blood pressure – Catching high blood pressure early can make a critical difference in preventing a heart attack or a stroke.
- Cholesterol – High cholesterol levels typically don’t cause signs or symptoms, but can ultimately lead to heart disease; a simple blood test is all it takes to tell you what your cholesterol numbers are.
- Blood sugar – This test can determine your risks for diabetes or kidney disease; this test is typically done from the same sample as a cholesterol screening.
- Weight – Being over or underweight is a key warning sign for a wide range of issues; make sure to talk to your doctor about what your weight means and what you can and should do to maintain a healthy weight.
Also, if you use any tobacco products, talk to your doctor about quitting. There are a great number of resources to help you quit for good and the sooner you stop, the better it will be for your health in the long run.
In addition to annual physical exams, there are certain regular screenings men should be getting based on their age, family history or risk factors. These screenings, especially for certain cancers, can help catch a problem early. Early detection is the best way to prevent problems in the long term. Screenings men should get regularly include:
- Colon cancer – You should get screened for colon cancer beginning at age 50, or earlier if a family member has been diagnosed with colon cancer, using a test like a colonoscopy; these screenings should be done every 10 years if nothing is found and you have no family history, or more frequently as recommended by your doctor.
- Prostate cancer – This screening should typically be started at age 50, though family history or other risk factors can indicate a need to start earlier; screening for prostate cancer can be done with a PSA blood test or by a physical examination by your doctor.
- Skin cancer – Men are two to three times as likely as women to develop certain skin cancers, with risk increasing as lifetime sun exposure accumulates; check yourself every three months for new or changing skin lesions and ask your doctor to check you, head-to-toe, once a year.
[tw-divider]Chew on this[/tw-divider]
Diet and exercise are critical components to living a healthy, happy and long life. Eating the right foods not only keeps you going day after day, but also helps stave off long-term problems like obesity, diabetes and various diseases. Likewise, exercise helps maintain our bodies and keep them functional.
It’s also important to keep in mind that our bodies change over time, and that’s not just limited to minor aches or pains or trouble keeping up with younger individuals. The way your body functions changes, and that includes how your body handles and metabolizes what you eat. That’s why it’s important to be conscientious and careful with what you eat as you get older. Talk to your doctor and find out what resources are available to you. It can have a lasting impact on your health.