Knowing your health numbers is important for all people, but because men are less likely to visit the doctor, fewer men know what their health numbers are or should be. In honor of International Men's Health Week (June 11-17), this could be the most important thing men read today.
We previously published a post on Knowing Your Numbers for both men and women which addressed Total Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, Blood Glucose, and Body Mass Index (BMI).
The University of Washington provides these screening guidelines specifically for men:
|Yearly||Blood pressure and dental exam|
|Every 2 years||Eye exam and physical (yearly after age 50)|
|Every 3 years||Screen for diabetes (if BMI is above 25 then screen yearly)|
|Every 5 years||Test your cholesterol. More often if risk factors are present.|
If you’re reluctant to go to the doctor, start with two numbers you can calculate at home: BMI and heart rate.
Body Mass Index
BMI is a simple, noninvasive method used to assess a person’s weight relative to their height. While BMI may not be accurate for everyone, there is a consensus in scientific research that BMI is an accurate indicator of increased risk for obesity-related health problems for most individuals, including those who exercise.
Muscle is denser than fat, so individuals with a high muscle mass have an elevated BMI, but a lower health risk. For this reason, BMI should be considered in the context of other health metrics, including waist circumference and body fat percentage, as well as lifestyle choices to determine overall health risk.
Resting heart rate is simply how many times the heart beats per minute while the body is at rest. This is best tested first thing in the morning before arising from bed. The average resting heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute while an athlete's resting heart rate may be as low as 40-60 beats per minute.
Maximum heart rate - One's heart rate increases with exercise. Your max heart rate can be estimated by subtracting your age from 220.
Target heart rate - The American Heart Association states that the target heart rate range for adult men is 50- 85% of your max rate. Calculate your target heart rate range by multiplying your max heart rate by .50 and .85.
Understanding target heart rates is important for men's health. Maintaining or increasing active lifestyles can improve heart rate numbers. However, exercise and proper nutrition does even more for men's health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease and cancer account for more than 47% of deaths in males in the United States. The good news for men is that regular doctor visits, knowing your numbers, consistent exercise, and proper nutrition can improve a man's health and help to prevent or reverse these health concerns. Consistently applied, these few steps have the potential to increase a man's lifespan. Talk to your doctor about other screenings that may be important for you based on your family and medical history.