Top things men and women need to be aware of when it comes to their health
If you only read one thing, make it this:
“Exercise isn’t just about preventing diseases now, it’s also about protecting your bones later.”
Deciding what to focus on when it comes to your health can be overwhelming. GP Dr Ginni Mansberg provides some clarity by breaking it down into the top priorities for men and women.
Priority 1 – Your weight
“71 per cent of Aussie men are overweight or obese, compared to 56 per cent of women,” Dr Mansberg says. “Obesity is linked to not just your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, it’s also your risk of cancers, especially bowel cancer, and arthritis as well.”
Priority 2 – Your blood pressure
“Get your blood pressure checked,” advises Dr Mansberg. “One in four Aussie men have high blood pressure and most of them don’t know about it, or they blow it off and go ‘oh it’s always a bit high, don’t worry about it’. But high blood pressure is the biggest single risk factor for stroke - so you want to get on top of that.”
Priority 3 – Your mental health
“Check in on your mental health because even though there are lower rates of depression and anxiety for men, men are much less likely to get help and they have much higher suicide rates,” Dr Mansberg says. “And depression is not just being sad and weepy, often it’s being angry all the time.”
Priority 1 – Your activity level
“A third of women in Australia don’t do enough exercise,” Dr Mansberg says. “Exercise isn’t just about preventing diseases in the here and now, it’s also about protecting your bones later.”
The guidelines are as follows:
- Doing some exercise is better than doing none – start slowly and build up
- Be active on most (or preferably all) days of the week with a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (where you can just manage to hold a conversation) – so 30 minutes, five times per week, for example
- Do muscle strengthening activities on two days each week
Priority 2 – Screening
Getting your cervical screening test (CST) – which used to be called the Pap smear – done every five years between ages 25 and 74, and your mammogram every two years between 50 and 74, is vital.
“There’s really no excuse for not getting up to date on your CST because cervical cancer should be nearly entirely preventable – we shouldn’t see anyone in Australia getting cervical cancer anymore,” Mansberg says.
“And what you need to understand about breast cancer is that it’s got a great prognosis if you get it early.”
Priority 3 – Your mental health
“One in five Aussie women get depression and one in three get anxiety in their life,” Mansberg says. “Don’t think that the only thing your doctor’s going to do is put you straight on anti-depressant medication – we keep that up our sleeves for more severe forms. And for a lot of people, just getting enough sleep, improving your diet and increasing the amount of exercise you do, seeing a psychologist to talk some stuff through, may be all you need to get your mental health back on track.”
Remember – a great GP is the perfect place to start. That said, not all doctors are created equal – so it’s worth shopping around to find one you like.
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