As 2017 winds down, patients often reflect on how well they met their goals for the year, including those around health. Each year, I see hundreds of patients for conditions involving their bladder, kidneys, prostate or urinary tract. Many of those conditions cannot be prevented because of genetics or another predisposition. Take prostate cancer, for example: age, ethnicity and family history of the disease are risk factors that simply can’t be avoided.
However, some conditions develop or worsen because of lifestyle choices we make. Whether you’re a man or woman trying to reduce your risk factors for a disease or simply want to live better, here are five concrete ways you can take control of your health and put your body in a stronger position to fight disease if it does occur.
- Eat sensibly– Avoiding excessive red meat, high-fat dairy foods and alcohol is a good practice for anyone. Read labels and limit portions. And don’t forget the water. We recommend drinking eight 8-oz glasses a day. Here is a good resource to learn more: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate.
- Know your weight– Last fall a National Center for Health Statistics study showed that nearly 40% of adults and 19% of youth are obese- the highest rate our country has ever seen. Start by knowing your own BMI (body mass index). This number will help you understand the work ahead if you are overweight. You’ll find a BMI calculator and helpful tips on this site: https://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/practical-healthy-weight-control.
- Exercise– Without a doubt, exercise is critical for health living. It not only improves your body but your mind and stress level as well. The CDC developed a 30/60/90-minute exercise guideline:
– 30 minutes of exercise every day applies to all adults to maintaincurrent weight.
– 60 minutes applies to those who wish to lose a moderate amount of weight.
– 90 minutes is recommended for people who have been significantly overweight or who have lost a substantial amount of weight and want to maintain that weight loss in the long term.
- Stop smoking- This is a tough one, especially for life-long smokers; however, it is never too late to stop and see some benefits. The amount of carbon monoxide in the blood begins to reduce within a just few hours of quitting. Within a few weeks blood circulation can improve and coughing tends to lessen. For more information on quitting smoking click here: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/cessation-fact-sheet#q7
- Get regular checkups– It may seem logical that following the previous four steps would eliminate the need for check-ups. However, as mentioned earlier, some diseases simply can’t be prevented. Knowing you have a disease early often means more options for fighting it. One regular check-up for every man over 50 should be his annual prostate exam. It’s quick and painless and can make a difference in the tools and time you have to fight prostate cancer if diagnosed.
These ideas are certainly not new. However, they are worth reconsidering as we transition to a new year. Make 2018 your fresh start to living healthier.