The best thing that New Zealand men can do about their health is to get proactive. By taking preventative action you can reduce the danger of major health risks including type 2 diabetes. Every positive change is a step towards better and longer lasting health and happiness.
By starting an open discussion with friends and family and getting a yearly warrant of fitness check up with your GP, you can safeguard your lifestyle and wellbeing for years to come.
There are a few simple steps men can take to actively safeguard their health and protect themselves from disease and death:
Visit a GP and know your family history
One of the easiest and most effective ways that men can take care of their health is by getting to know a GP and having a check-up once a year – think of it as warrant of fitness for your body or taking a time out for a men’s health pit stop.
A GP will be able to check for all age appropriate health risks, answer any questions you may have about your health and outline what steps to take to make sure you stay healthy for the future.
You can also visit a pharmacy as your local pharmacist is an easily accessible first step towards looking after your health. They are open long hours, late nights and weekends, and can offer you free health information and advice. Participating Unichem and Life pharmacies are offering free men’s health pit stop health checks which includes a free blood pressure checks during the month of June.
By monitoring your health regularly and being aware of any illnesses or risks in your family history, you will be more likely to catch any health issues early and give yourself the best chance at surviving potentially life threatening illnesses, many of which don’t always have obvious symptoms in their early stages.
Men can find a new lease on life by having a check-up with a GP or nurse once a year and being proactive about their health.
Measure your blood
Blood pressure and high cholesterol can be a key indicator for a range of illnesses, including type 2 diabetes.
There are 40 new diabetes diagnoses in New Zealand every day and one in four New Zealanders is estimated to have pre-diabetes. A person’s risk of progressing from pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes can be roughly halved if they lose weight, change their diet, increase exercise and/or have drug treatment.
Get an annual heart and diabetes check.
Participating Unichem and Life pharmacies are offering free blood pressure checks throughout the month of June.
The benefits of regular exercise can be huge for physical, mental and sexual health. By getting into a routine that includes 30 minutes of physical exercise a day, you can be well on the way to ensuring your health for the future.
Research shows that higher levels of physical activity can reduce cardiovascular disease, help fight depression, help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes and improve sexual function.
So take control of your health with 30 minutes of daily exercise.
Just as important as regular exercise to making sure that you maintain a healthy and balanced life is healthy eating. Eating well is important for both mental and physical health, so you need to know what foods to eat, in what quantities and what foods to avoid to minimise health risks.
A balanced diet means eating a wide variety of healthy foods including plenty of vegetables, fruit and cereals (like bread, rice and pasta), some lean meat, chicken or fish, dairy products (milk, yoghurt, cheese) and lots of water. It’s a good idea to avoid fatty foods and foods with lots of sugar in them.
It can be hard to change your diet, so the best way to do it is to try and make small changes over time and eat healthy foods that you enjoy. A nutritionist can also offer advice and support and design a personalised nutrition and fitness programme for you.
Depression affects one in eight men at any time. Everyone can struggle with their day-to-day experiences, but the challenge facing men is to realise when they are getting overwhelmed and knowing how to get help. Recognising the symptoms of depression in yourself and others can be the first step to beating it. Symptoms include tiredness, irritability, sleep disturbance, and loss of interest in work or other activities. Other things to look out for as risk factors include family history of mental illness, excessive alcohol consumption, drug use, stress, unemployment and chronic illness.
Remember that there are services out there to help you or you can chat with your GP.
Stop smoking – it’s the only healthy option
Smoking causes more deaths every year in New Zealand than road crashes, suicide, skin cancers, drowning and homicide combined. It is no secret that if you are a smoker, it increases your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and a range of cancers and other diseases.
Quitting is the only healthy option. The body has an amazing ability to recover from the effects of smoking after you quit. After 24 hours the carbon monoxide in your blood will have dropped dramatically and all the nicotine will have been metabolized. Within a year of quitting the risk of coronary heart disease is halved and after 10-15 years of not smoking your risk of disease will be the same as those who have never smoked.
There are a number of services available for those who want to quit – speak to your GP or nurse, call Quitline on 0800 778 778 for help or visit the website www.quit.org.nz
Diabetes is New Zealand’s fastest-growing health crisis, affecting a quarter of a million people. The number of New Zealanders living with diabetes has doubled from 125,000 to 250,000 [i] in the past 10 years, with 40 new diabetes diagnoses every day.
Everyone is at risk of diabetes and one in four New Zealanders is believed to have prediabetes. That’s more than a million people, who in many cases, could prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes with a healthy lifestyle of nutritional eating and regular exercise.
Taking your mens health check and visiting a health professional is a great way to assess your risk of diabetes. There are so many simple ways you can reduce your risk.