the complete idiot's guide to mens health...

No, you don’t have any serious health issues right now. In fact you are young…and fit. Or you think you are fit.  So you act accordingly, drinking and smoking and behaving as if you will live forever. But how you look after yourself right now can make a huge difference to the rest of your life.

General Health Guidelines:
1. You are not bullet-proof (well not any more): When we are young men (under 30 years) we tend to think that we are bullet-proof and will live forever. We guzzle beers and pizza and still have a washboard tummy to show for it, stretching and warm-up exercises are for a mama’s boy, and our erections are as hard as steel. Well I have news for you. 

We all share the same hormones, and those hormones all take the same route: south! Our bodies all share the one universal and very democratic law that applies to all people: they age and are prone to mental fatigue. And how you look after yourself, exercise, eat, take supplements and handle stress right now will impact positively not only on the length of your life, but also on the quality of your life.

2. Nutrition, exercise and health rules apply to you as well: I know you are special and unique.  But all us males are prone to heart attacks, cancer, injuries, strokes, and so on. It is the way we are wired, and a heart attack is not interested in your ‘cute factor’ or how many push-ups you once did in grade 10. It doesn’t care how special you are, it is simply interested in the numbers we all share. Yes the numbers on your scale, the numbers in your cholesterol test, triglyceride test and body mass index (BMI) do not lie. They apply to you.

3. A little bit is better than nothing at all or going too BIG: We men tend to think big or do nothing. We either hunt or think about the hunt in the shade of a tree. After thousands of years in pursuit of the woolly mammoth we are conditioned that way. Big hunter gets big mammoth, gets big cave and many offspring. It was a simple recipe in those days. Not any more. We tend to go big at the gym and at exercise and overdo it, with aches and sprains as the result.

A few little changes will do the trick. Cut the smoking. Exercise lightly for 6 days a week rather than playing Rambo or Rocky twice a week in the gym, and live to exercise again next week. Eat white meat 2 nights of the week, drink one beer less. We can do it.

4. Go ape: This should be the easiest one of all. Eat like your family tree and focus on fresh fruit, vegetables, roots (sweet potatoes/potatoes/carrots) and nuts. (You don’t have to overturn rocks and look for insects). If you follow the fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts diet long enough you may eventually be able to swing by your tail from a tree. Have you ever seen a depressed monkey on this diet?

5. Go for your check-ups and screenings and make a friend of your doctor: Put his number on speed dial. The first hour after a heart attack is really crucial – if you can get hold of him quickly, you might live to see your grandchildren. There are some things in life us men hate, like being wrong, our team losing, and admitting that we are growing older.

Most of these screenings don’t hurt; some might be a bit more intense. But you are not scared of a teeny weeny little needle are you?

• At age 50 you should have a screening test for colorectal cancer.

• Between the age of 65 and 75 you should get yourself screened for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). You don’t want that bulging balloon of blood in your abdominal aorta to burst do you?

• You need to get screened for diabetes (high blood sugar) if you have a family history of diabetes, if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80, or if you take medication for high blood pressure.

• You need to get your blood pressure measured at least twice a year. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. High blood pressure is a heartless bitch and can cause strokes, heart attacks, kidney and eye problems, and more.

• If you are 30 years or older get your cholesterol and triglycerides checked regularly. And no, cholesterol isn’t something you put in your car’s engine. It is something that can clog up your arteries. Do this especially if you smoke (bad bad bad habit) or are obese (yes the spare tyre of flesh around your once sexy waist makes you obese).

• Have an HIV screening test (especially if you now remember that encounter with the sexy little blonde at the end of year function. The HIV virus might be small, but it can destroy your life, relationships and health. Even good, upright, socially responsible and spiritually developed people are not immune.

6. Fun is good for you: If you are not the gym type, go walking with your best friend (the hairy one that barks), make some fun out of exercise, ride a bicycle, hit or kick a ball, throw a Frisbee and laugh while you are doing it. Boys were made for play. It lowers our blood pressure and raises our testosterone and IQ.

7. Mates & family are good for you: Research has repeatedly proved that we function optimally as social animals if we are part of a small herd. We were made to be part of a team, whether you call that team a marriage, a committed relationship, family or your golf buddies. It not only adds value but years and quality to our lives. Volunteer work, spiritual ties, friendship, a pet reduce stress & enhance life.

8. Have a purpose: Find something you enjoy, a reason to live for, something bigger than you to believe in. Something that makes you excited when you wake up, something that makes life purposeful and meaningful.

9. Get outdoors in the fresh air: We come from nature and we should visit her more often. We were not designed to live permanently in artificial surroundings, breathe artificial air, meet so many people every day, and hunt for food on a computer.

10. Attend a yoga class: Ok. Have you stopped laughing yet? Imagine a world where you are surrounded by lithe, sexy women all dressed in spandex, smelling feminine and taking evocative postures. Make that world smaller, and you are in a yoga class. And what is more, research in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that attending yoga classes regularly for three months improves overall sexual function in men, including desire, satisfaction and confidence.

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