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June 14 2022
Your car gets a regular health check, but how about you? Take these seven quick tests and see if you pass.
Test 1: Is your engine tuned?
Check your pulse by putting your finger on the thumb side of the tendons running through your wrist. Count your heartbeats over four 15-second periods and add them up to find your resting heart rate. The lower it is, the more efficient your heart is.
Then test your recovery rate. Step on and off a step about every three seconds for three minutes, rest for 30 seconds, then take your pulse again to find your heart rate after exercise.
So how do you stack up against other men your age? Check the table below:
If you’re in or near the unfit range, think about starting a new exercise habit. (If you’re older, very overweight or have a health problem, talk to your GP first.)
Test 2: Are you overloaded?
If you want to know whether you’re carrying a healthy amount of fat, your waist measurement is a better guide than your weight. Measure your belly at the widest point (probably around belly-button level).
Over 37”: you’re probably at increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer - think about losing some fat.
Over 40”: you could be at serious risk of these conditions - talk to a GP or health professional
If you’re losing weight for no apparent reason, that could also be a sign of a serious health condition, so see your GP.
Test 3: Look out for dashboard 'warning lights'
Check yourself all over for:
If you notice any of these, talk to your GP.
Test 4: Wobbly gear stick?
If you’re regularly having trouble getting or keeping an erection, it’s not just your sex life that’s at stake. It could be an early warning sign of serious health conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes, as well as depression, low testosterone or high cholesterol. While nobody likes talking about this stuff, it’s well worth plucking up your courage and talking to your GP.
Test 5: Check the water
Are you peeing more often, especially at night, or finding it harder to pee with a weaker flow? Both can be signs of prostate enlargement. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s prostate cancer, but it is worth getting it checked. Prostate Cancer UK have an online risk checker tool.
Peeing more often, along with weight gain, tiredness and sores healing more slowly, could also be a sign of diabetes. If you’re noticing this, get your blood sugar tested.
Test 6: Day-to-day performance
How’s your mental health? This is another area that can be hard to talk about as a man. Be honest with yourself about how you’ve been feeling lately, and if the answer is “not good”, reach out and talk to someone. This could be a friend, family member or health professional.
Or if you’d rather confide in someone who doesn’t know you, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 any time day or night, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You don’t have to be suicidal - although they’re a great resource if you are.
Test 7: Check your pressure
You can test your blood pressure at the GP (they’ll probably have a machine in the waiting room) or buy a home-tester.
Your blood pressure is given as two figures. The first is systolic (when the heart is contracting) and the second is diastolic (when it’s resting). 120/70 is a healthy blood pressure for a young man. Once the systolic figure gets close to 140 or the diastolic to 90, you need to monitor your blood pressure more often. Remember, though, that it’s normal for it to go up temporarily when you’re stressed.
Take advantage of free check-ups
If you’re 40-74 and live in England, you should be invited for a regular NHS health check to help you spot early signs of heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, diabetes and other issues. If you haven’t had an invite or haven't been to a health check for five years or more, ask your GP.
It can be easier to go to the doctor about nothing than to go to the doctor about something, so be proactive about checking for any developing issues and fixing them before they get serious.
You can also call NHS 111 any time day or night to talk about anything related to your health. It doesn’t have to be a crisis - they can give you general health advice or tell you where to go for more specialist help.