Whenever I have candid conversations about health with guys (and women too), I’m often shocked by the lack of knowledge or the misconceptions on health and the importance of maintaining our bodies.
I often hear in my age group, “How can I make it to retirement when I ache so much?” or “I really feel it in the winter,” but the conversation lacks the cause-and-effect of why we have aches and pains or how we got there.
I think we’re missing the elephant in the room — the lack of knowledge and lost priority of our bodies. We seem obsessed with making money, but the reality of needing our body healthy to make that money isn’t in the scope of our thoughts. That is dangerous and short-sighted in my mind.
Here are the priorities to a healthier you, according to the National Health Information Center in the U.S.:
• Blood pressure-monitoring: Your blood pressure is important because it tells us how hard the heart has to pump to circulate your blood. If you have a high blood pressure it could indicate that there are blockages building up in the blood vessels that carry your blood throughout your body.
The take-home message: Get it checked by a medical professional once per year.
• Blood sugar: The blood sugar concentration or blood glucose level is the amount of glucose (sugar) present in the blood of a human or animal.
The human body naturally tightly regulates blood glucose levels as a part of metabolic homeostasis (ability to maintain a stable, constant condition). Blood sugar levels outside the normal range may be an indicator of a medical condition.
A persistently high level is referred to as hyperglycemia; low levels are referred to as hypoglycemia. Intake of alcohol and high sugar foods will spike the blood glucose levels and rapidly decline after some time, causing you to be tired or sleepy.
The take-home message: order black coffee or a single-single instead of a double-double.
• Cholesterol is a type of fat found in your blood, it can come from food or be made by your liver. Essentially, like the hair and gunk that builds up in your bathtub drain, cholesterol can be like that.
There can be many mechanisms that cause cholesterol to bind to the walls of your blood vessels but all you need to know is it definitely plays a part in blood vessel blockage.
This in turns limits the flow of blood and therefore oxygen to body. When we have little or no oxygen getting to the heart we have angina or heart attacks.
Take home message: Order a coffee with low-fat milk instead of homo milk or cream.
• Weight: Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is important for overall health and can help you prevent and control many diseases and conditions.
If you are overweight or obese, you are at higher risk of developing serious health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems and certain cancers.
The take-home message: Skip the doughnut, cookie or bar every so often and slowly substitute fruits and veggies instead.
So, there you go, in five minutes you learned the basics of health for your body. Apply these messages and you may get the biggest bonus you ever received, more years to your life.
—Evan McKay works in personal training, ergonomics and corporate injury prevention.