June is Men’s Health Month, and the week before Father’s Day is Men’s Health Week.
So, I hit the streets of downtown Detroit to gauge how well men – and the women who love them – are taking care of themselves.
I also learned from a urologist which two health numbers all men need to know!
But first, I wanted to hear from the average Joe – so to speak.
Or Jim in this case.
“Are you getting your regular checkups?” I asked Jim Hockle – a retiree from Traverse City visiting the D with his wife Diana.
“I sure am,” he replied with a grin.
But I turned to his wife for verification, “Is he?”
“Well, he really is. Just don’t ask what…what the level of his physical activity is,” Diana chuckled.
“Oh! She’s calling you out,” I said looking back at Jim.
Many couples could probably see themselves having that same light-hearted exchange. But taking care of yourself is no joke.
I asked Gregoir Eugene-Louis of Detroit if he gets checkups regularly.
“Yes, my wife makes me go once a year.”
An annual physical is ideal unless personal or family medical history calls for more frequent visits to your doctor, according to Dr. Michael Lutz, President of the Michigan Institute of Urology (MIU) Men’s Health Foundation.
“I always say that as you go through life, you’re kind of setting the table for your next decade of life,” said Dr. Lutz.
KNOW YOUR NUMBERS
He explained that there are TWO main numbers men must know for their health.
Number one – your waist-to-height ratio.
Dr. Lutz said that’s the best indicator to see if you are overweight or obese.
Don’t know how to go about measuring that?
Take your waist measurement (say, in inches), divide it by your height (also in inches). Your waist should be half your height...or less!
So, if a guy is 6-feet tall – or 72 inches – his waist circumference should be 36 inches or less. Anything above that indicates a weight problem that can be linked or lead to other health concerns such as diabetes, cancer and cardiac woes.
The second number men need to know is your blood pressure.
New dad Deshawn Brown – who we ran into pushing his 5-month-old son in a stroller – is probably like a lot of guys. When I asked him if he knew his blood pressure numbers, he replied, "Oh. No, I do not.”
But it’s key that men get checked.
“You have to have the ideal number. And there are more than enough studies that show that idealized blood pressure is the best way to maintain your overall health and fitness,” said Dr. Lutz.
The American Heart Association made a change in the blood pressure guidelines in 2017, shifting the threshold from 140-over-90 mmHg down to 130-over-80 mmHg.
And that goes for both men and women.
So, Dr. Lutz said people with numbers that are higher than the new normal are now considered to have high blood pressure or hypertension!
At MIU’s Annual Men’s Health event at Ford Field in 2018, Dr. Lutz said 75 percent of the roughly 1000 men who were screened had high blood pressure based on the new guidelines.
Think about that – 75 percent! And that was only looking at Detroit area men who wanted or were able to check on their health.
So, get checked annually! It’s really easy. My husband picked up a home blood pressure monitor for $35 at a local pharmacy. The devices are reasonably accurate.
Just wrap the cuff around your upper arm – about a half-an-inch from your elbow – and then hit the start button.
The whole process takes less than 60 seconds.
For the most accurate results, you can go to your doctor. Also, many insurance companies have no-cost or low-cost clinics that you can go to in order to get your blood pressure checked.
So, guys…to recap: Waist-to-height ratio 0.5 or less and blood pressure 130/80.
If you need to lower those numbers, Dr. Lutz said don’t try to change all your diet and exercise habits at once.
Just change one thing at a time.
- Maybe it’s adding a vegetable to every meal.
- Or maybe it’s walking 15 minutes after dinner every night.
- Or maybe it’s doing something that reduces your stress level – like meditation, prayer, or starting a hobby you love.
Know your numbers…and change one thing.
You got this, guys!