Checklist for men
Nutrition Around two-thirds of adult males (aged 18 years or over) and one-quarter of boys (five-17 years) are overweight or obese. Most New Zealand males need to eat more vegetables and plant-based foods, decrease total food quantity and eliminate processed foods, specifically those with added sugar, preservatives, trans fats and saturated fats.
Exercise From early childhood to old age, regular physical activity is an essential element of good health. Each day, try for an hour of activity such as walking, swimming, taking the stairs, yoga, ball sports, dancing and resistance (weight) training.
Sleep Most men need around seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Look out for snoring, particularly episodes when breathing stops then restarts with a gasp, which may indicate obstructive sleep apnoea.
Alcohol Keep alcohol to a minimum. It is a Group 1 carcinogen and has other adverse health effects.
Mental health One in eight men will have depression at some time in their lives. Men are less likely than women to talk about it. Suicide is a significant cause of death for men under the age of 54. For help, see your GP or check out mentalhealth.org.nz.
Body weight Calculating your body mass index (BMI) is easy to do. All you need is a set of accurate bath scales, a tape measure and a calculator. BMI is calculated by taking your weight (W) in kilograms and dividing it by your height (H) in metres squared: BMI = W(kg) ÷ H(m2). These are the BMI ranges: l Underweight = less than 18.5 l Normal weight for young and middle-aged adults = 18.5 to 24.9 l Overweight = 25 to 29.9
l Obese = 30 or greater.
Waist circumference This is taken simply by putting a tape measure around your waist at the level of the umbilicus (navel). For men, 94cm or more flags an increased health risk.
Blood pressure Blood pressure should be checked at each visit to the GP, or at least every year. It should be done more often if you have other heart disease risk factors such as smoking or being overweight. If your blood pressure is elevated (more than 140/90), you will be referred for 24-hour blood pressure monitoring to see if treatment is necessary.
Blood sugar A blood sugar (or blood glucose) test is a blood test best done first thing in the morning with nothing to eat from midnight the night before. A high fasting blood sugar reading may mean diabetes. Poorly controlled diabetes is a significant risk factor for heart and blood vessel disease, kidney disease and blindness.
Cholesterol A blood test for cholesterol should be done every five years. If your cholesterol level is found to be high, diet and lifestyle changes will be recommended. Your doctor will discuss if you need medication.
Sight Men over the age of 40 should have their eyes checked annually by an ophthalmologist for cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.
Hearing This should be tested at the first sign of hearing loss or from age 65.
Dental Daily oral hygiene with brushing and flossing is important for your general health as well as your oral health. A dental check-up and thorough cleaning should be done every year.
Bone mineral density (BMD) test
At 60 years old, men have a 29 per cent chance of experiencing an osteoporotic fracture during their remaining lifetime. Risk factors include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet,>>
“From early childhood to old age, regular physical activity is an essential element of good health.”
“Once a year from your 20s on, ask your doctor to check any moles or irregularities on your skin.”
inactivity and taking medications such as corticosteroids, PPI acid-lowering medications and some antidepressants.
Bowel cancer screening Bowel cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer except lung cancer. Precancerous lumps or polyps can develop in your bowel without causing any symptoms, sometimes for years. There are two ways of screening for bowel cancer. One is faecal occult blood testing or FOBT, which involves sending samples of bowel motions to a laboratory (via your GP or the National Bowel Cancer Screening programme) to test for blood. The other way is a colonoscopy camera passed into the bowel to search for precancerous polyps or bowel cancers.
PSA and prostate check The most common type of cancer in men is prostate cancer, with about 3000 New Zealand men diagnosed each year. More than 600 Kiwi men die from the disease annually, but if it is caught early it can be treated. Discuss a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test with your GP for the early detection of prostate cancer.
Skin check New Zealand has a particularly high incidence of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, and death rates are higher for men than women. If discovered and treated early enough, most can be cured. Once a year from your 20s on, ask your GP to check any moles or irregularities on your skin. No matter what your age, alert your doctor if you notice a mole or freckle that changes size or colour, becomes itchy or bleeds, or a sore that will not heal.