Man Up for 2016: Take Control of Your Health
Posted 1/5/2016 by UHBlog
As the traditional “head of the household” in many families, men have a responsibility to stay in the best of health – not only for themselves, but also for the good of their wives and children who depend on them. Still, many men only see their doctors after a good measure of – let’s call it “encouragement” – from their wives.
“When it comes to taking control of their health and getting routine screenings, I would say that men seem to be a little more stubborn than women are,” says family medicine specialist Edward Craft, DO. “I think one reason is that, because of their anatomies, women tend to be more used to going in for annual examinations than men are. Another reason is that men generally don’t like things that we can’t take care of on our own, and it sometimes takes some nudging from our wives or partners to get us to pay more attention to our wellness.”
But take note, guys: It’s not only about you. Dr. Craft challenges you to man-up and do what’s best for your family.
“Men, especially men with families, shouldn’t have to be nagged by their wives to pay attention to their health,” he says. “It’s their responsibility.”
Dr. Craft offers these tips to help you take control of your health:
- Know your body – Basic health screenings will tell you about such variables as your cholesterol and glucose levels and blood pressure. High levels could put you at increased risk of a heart attack, stroke or other serious cardiovascular problems.
“It’s better to see a potential problem coming so we can deal with it before it becomes a crisis,” Dr. Craft says.
- Get exercise – Make time for yourself to exercise at least three times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes per session. Dr. Craft recommends doing cardio exercises that elevates your heart rate.
“One big misperception is that working a physical job takes the place of cardio exercises,” he says. “Even if you’re working hard with physical labor, you still want to be sure you’re working out your heart along with the activity of your job.”
- Eat fiber – “There is a lot of emphasis placed on counting calories today,” Dr. Craft says. “I think what’s more important than calories is the quality of the food you eat. The worst thing many Americans do that can lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure is not eating enough fiber. The average American consumes three grams of fiber per day when we should be consuming 10 grams.”
Fiber can come from whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables, or from a fiber supplement.
“My grandmother used to sprinkle a fiber supplement in everything, including spaghetti sauce,” he says. “You can get it in a tasteless powder that you can mix into anything, like coffee or cereal, and you’ll never know it's there.”
- Moderation is key – “Extreme fad diets are popular New Year’s resolutions, but they usually don’t work – largely because they aren’t sustainable in the long term,” Dr. Craft says. “Moderation is what’s important. You don’t have to abstain from fast food, but maybe reduce it to once a week. If you drink alcohol, limit it to one or two drinks a day.”
- Stop smoking – The health risks of smoking are well known. Many programs and methods are available to help you stop smoking, and your doctor can help you pick a suitable option for you.
The bottom line, Dr. Craft says, is that taking control of your health now increases your chance of living a longer, more productive life – for yourself and those who love you.
“A stroke at age 50 can significantly change the next 20 years of your life – if you survive it,” he says. “If you take care of yourself now, you have a better chance of being healthy and functional at age 70.”
Edward Craft, DO
is a family medicine specialist at University Hospitals North Ridgeville Primary Care. You can request an appointment
with Dr. Craft or any other University Hospitals doctor online.