Father's Day is an excellent time for letting Dad know how much you care about him, by encouraging him to take care of his health.
"On average, men are less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than women," explained Family Medicine physician Michael Sevilla, M.D. "However, men can influence their quality of life and overall life expectancy by making healthy living a part of their daily routine."
Get Enough Sleep
"Not getting enough sleep is linked to several chronic conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression," he added. "Also, inadequate sleep is responsible for many motor vehicle and machinery-related accidents. Sleep guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation have found that sleep needs change as we age; but in general, adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep daily."
Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. Dr. Sevilla continued, "Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits. If you smoke or use tobacco, talk to your doctor about quitting. Within 20 minutes after smoking that last cigarette, your body begins a series of positive changes that continue for years."
Screening tests can help find diseases early, when they're easiest to treat. Talk to your doctor about which medical tests you need to stay healthy, including:
Body Mass Index
Your body mass index, or BMI, is a measure of your body fat based on your height and weight. It is used to screen for obesity.
Once you turn 35 (or earlier if you have risk factors), have your cholesterol checked regularly. High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.
Have your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years. High blood pressure increases your chance of getting heart or kidney disease and for having a stroke. If you have high blood pressure, you may need medication to control it.
Beginning at age 50 and through age 75, get tested for colorectal cancer. You and your doctor can decide which test is best. How often you'll have the test depends on which test you choose. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you may need to be tested before you turn 50.
Ask your doctor if you should be tested for prostate, lung, oral, skin, or other cancers.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Talk to your doctor to see whether you should be tested for gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, or other sexually transmitted diseases.
The American Diabetes Association recommends routine screening for diabetes beginning approximately at age 45. Diabetes, or high blood sugar, can cause problems with your heart, eyes, feet, kidneys, nerves, and other body parts.
Be Physically Active
Try to be active for at least 2 hours a week or 30 minutes a day on most days of the week. "Check with your physician first before starting an exercise program," he said. "When you begin, include activities that raise your breathing and heart rate and which strengthen your muscles. You can start slowly and spread your activities out during the week, by breaking them into smaller chunks of time during the day."
You Are What You Eat
Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Limit foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol; and choose healthy snacks.
Get Your Check-Up
This Father's Day, urge Dad to schedule an annual checkup. "Certain diseases may not have symptoms, so check-ups can help diagnose issues before they have become a problem," Dr. Sevilla advised. "In addition, encourage Dad to keep track of his numbers for blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, body mass index, and other conditions he may have. These numbers can provide insight into a man's health status and risk for certain diseases. Be sure to ask a doctor what tests are needed and how often."
"By taking simple steps toward a healthy lifestyle, men can influence their overall life expectancy," Dr. Sevilla concluded. "These steps can include healthy eating, maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active, not smoking, getting regular checkups, managing stress and guarding against accidents. Preventive measures can increase a man's chances of staying vital and active into his 80s and 90s, well beyond the average male life expectancy of 75 years old; which means that Dad may be around to celebrate more Father's Days."
Michael Sevilla, M.D., is a board certified Family Medicine physician affiliated with the Family Practice Center of Salem, 2370 Southeast Boulevard in Salem, 330-332-9961.