1. Don’t avoid the doctor
Unfortunately, research shows that men are less likely to see their GP compared to women. It is advisable to see your GP at least once a year for a general checkup. We do it for our cars so why don’t we organize a regular service for our bodies?
A yearly check of your blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels as well as other health screening tools is advisable. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and unfortunately incidence rates are on the rise. PSA is a blood test used to measure the level of a prostate-specific antigen in blood. This blood test is often accompanied by palpation of your prostate rectally by your GP during a prostate screen.
From the age of 40-50, regular prostate screening should be included in your general health checkup. If you have a family history of prostate cancer, you may need to begin screening earlier. Speak to your GP about this.
2. Don’t ignore those niggles
Musculoskeletal (muscles, bones, joints and ligament) complaints are common among farmers because of the extreme labour-intensive workload associated with agriculture. Tightness and soreness are often referred to as “niggles” and have been shown to be potential warning signs that further injury is about to occur. They also influence how we move and perform physical tasks, using compensatory movement strategies to continue working as we deal with such niggles. These changes can put you at further risk of injury.
It is important to check in with a health care provider such as your local physiotherapist. They will be able to do a comprehensive assessment and develop a treatment plan. Do not leave it until a niggle becomes a bigger problem that stops you working completely. Catch it earlier and get on that road to recovery.
3. Wear sunscreen
We are so diligent and protective of our children, forcing them to be lathered in sunscreen during the summer months. However, we often forget the importance of this as adults, particularly older men. Farming requires you to spend considerable hours outdoors under the sun’s UV rays, increasing the risk of developing skin cancers. Sunscreen helps to protect skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, which helps to reduce the risk of skin cancer. UV rays can penetrate clouds, so even on those cloudy days, it is important to protect your skin.
Generally, men tend to experience higher rates of skin cancer compared to women. It can be helpful to get a daily moisturizer that also includes an SPF skin protector so you can easily include sun screen application into your daily routine. Make sure you go for one with a high SPF content (SPF 50 is recommended).
4, Commit to exercise
Over 50% of men don’t meet the recommendations for daily exercise. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate- intensity physical activity (this can be a combination of house/farm work and exercise) or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity daily. This should be accompanied by at least two days of strength training such as free weights or body weight exercises.
Regular exercise helps to reduce serious illness like cardiovascular disease, dementia, cancer, and type-2 diabetes. It also helps to reduce falls, improve sleep, and reduce anxiety.
5. Drink less alcohol
Research has shown that men drink more frequently than women. Excessive alcohol can have detrimental effects on your health. Thankfully, alcohol is one of the modifiable risk factors for our health. We choose whether to drink it or not.
Alcohol can damage your heart, increasing risk of stroke and high blood pressure. Although alcohol may act as a temporary antidepressant improving your mood, it changes the brain’s chemistry resulting in increased anxiety the following morning. Excessive alcohol use can also result in erectile dysfunction, poor memory, balance and coordination issues, difficulty concentrating, and a disorder known as “wet brain”, due to a lack of vitamin B1. Alcohol causes four out of five liver related deaths and can result in liver disease and liver scarring.
It is advisable to have two-three alcohol free days per week and drink no more than six standard drinks on any one occasion. The less you drink, the lower your risk of developing alcohol related health issues.