8 Things You Can Do Today to Prevent Future Health Problems

LIFESTYLE

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By: Stacy McClain, NASM-CPT

June is Men’s Health Month! We are dedicating this month to increasing awareness and encouragement to early detection and treatment of preventable health problems. Statistically, men do not focus proactively on their health as well as they should. However, as a whole we can take this as an opportunity to work on improving our preventive health care routines. Why should you care about preventive care? Among Americans, every 7 out of 10 deaths result from chronic diseases including: heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Chronic diseases are also responsible for 90% of the nation’s $3.3 trillion in annual health care expenditures. Luckily, these diseases are largely preventable, which puts you in a position to take control of your health.

It’s all about taking small actions today to help prevent and catch diseases before there is too much damage. Preventive care is critical to helping you or loved ones live longer, healthier lives. Choose something from the list below to do this month:

Understand your risk factors for illness or injury. Paying close attention to the following factors can reduce your risk for certain diseases: Be aware of your family history, check your blood pressure and cholesterol often, monitor your blood sugar, understand how age and gender can affect your risk for injury, take a look at the products you eat or put on your skin, and be conscious of the air you breathe.  

Screenings, regular checkups, vaccinations, and self-exams. Schedule a doctors/dentist/optometrist checkup at least once or twice a year. Talk to your employer about what is included in your benefits package and take advantage of as much as you can. When you are at the checkups, talk with your doctor about risk factors and ask for additional screenings (top 10 health screenings for men). Make sure you are up to date on your vaccinations and do not forget to perform self-exams on your own between visits.

Eat healthy. To ensure healthy eating, make sure you are consuming 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Reduce the amount of processed and pre-packaged food you consume and drink alcohol in moderation. Watching your fat and sodium intake will also help you make better choices during the day. An easy way to plan ahead is to cook a few fresh meals during the week and save leftovers for the days to come. For more information contact a LifeStart registered dietitian. 

Exercise for 30 minutes at least 5 times a week. No matter your age, you should be engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. If you aren’t there yet, it’s time to start working towards that goal. Do what you can today and slowly keep adding more. If you’re not sure how to start or lack motivation, reach out to a LifeStart certified personal trainer to find a program that works for you and your schedule.

Don’t smoke. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in our country. 

Seek counseling. If you are having trouble quitting smoking, losing weight, eating better, treating depression, or reducing alcohol, seek help from a professional. A little help goes a long way.

Play it safe. Make sure you buckle up whenever riding in a car, and wear a helmet when riding a bike. More ways to stay safe include having smoke and carbon monoxide detectors working in your home, and wearing sunscreen and UV-protected sunglasses.

Don’t ignore the warning signs. If you experience an unusual pain, ache, or other possible warning sign or symptom, don’t brush it off. You may think it’s “probably nothing”, but if it isn’t normal, you are better off being evaluated by a medical professional.

When we invest in prevention, everyone benefits. You only get one life. Take care of it!