MALE HEALTH AND FITNESS no longer remains the exclusive domain of health junkies, especially in our male-dominated workplace.
Just last week, Ma’a Nonu (an alias) was suspended for overexerting himself (is there such a word?), after being given specific instructions to stay on light duties in the light of his various ailments, mostly heart-related. I don’t know for how long he’ll be gone, but it doesn’t look good for him. Looking at the big picture, keeping him healthy and alive took precedence over any job issues that might have been hanging in the balance. It was a wake-up call for all of us, because New Zealanders are no different from Pinoys when it comes to health issues : we choose to ignore any potential problems until it becomes a gigantic elephant in the room, overpowering us and becoming a life-or death issue.
Just to make it an easier topic to discuss in the lunchroom, the office signed up for a male health awareness program half-jestingly called “Man Maintenance”, which focused on the health problems men were likely to suffer towards middle age and were likely to ignore until it was too late. “GUYS, CHECK YOUR TOOLKIT” exhorts the flyer, which unfortunately I gave a second look in the lunchroom only because the black and blue color reminded me of a Domino’s Pizza discount coupon. On the backside of the exhortation, which obviously compares our health and various bodily systems to the tools that help us go through life, was a short questionnaire, any of which if answerable by “yes” was a red flag that screamed at us to book a medical appointment super-ASAP. Below are the questions, and my dodgy answers :
Are you aged 50 years or over? Hmmm… Next question please. :) Seriously the question seeks to establish my age range, which predisposes me to certain health conditions like hypertension, diabetes and certain cancers. To be perfectly honest with you, before telling you my tender age, I’ve never subscribed to the belief that you’re only as old as you feel. Age is a measurement, and it’s there for a reason. How well you’ve taken care yourself by the time you reach a certain number of years determines how well you’ll live the rest of your life, for better or worse. I’ll be half a century in a few months, but whether I’ve outlasted my use-by date, remains to be seen, hopefully in the next few questions.
Are you a smoker? This is a tricky one, in establishing whether or not the question is a good indicator of my personal health. No I don’t smoke, but I had been a pack-plus ciggy puffer (not the naughty type) for 24 years until I quit for good in 2007. My fitness improved dramatically since then, in almost every aspect, but who knows if I’ve already picked up lifestyle diseases because of the quarter century of smoking? A word to the wise in this area : Better than quitting is not starting at all, and if you’ve quit, don’t start again.
Do you exercise on average less than 30 minutes most days? Bar none, this is the one question I can answer unequivocally in the positive. The physical activity in my work alone (I work in a four-storey factory with no elevators) requires me to go 100kph, most of the 8-hour shift and I stay standing or walking throughout unless I’m on a tea break or lunch break. I also bike to and from work (unless it’s raining or I’m on night shift) around 30 minutes each way, so it’s pretty much a brisk 6-hour walk for me five days a week, 48 weeks a year less statutory holidays. I appreciate the gift, but could I just cash that gym membership for a Wendy’s value card?
Do you have more than 3 alcoholic drinks a day? Waiving my constitutional right against self-incrimination, I enjoy a brown bottle every now and then. Recently though, I made an important, work-related discovery about alcohol. If you can’t get to sleep after afternoon shift or night shift, and have to catch some zzz’s for the next day, a drink or two of the nasty will give you an instant visa to Dreamland faster than any tranquilizer can. I try not to enjoy it too much, because inevitably I start to depend on it, either that or no more night shifts for me. Otherwise, I’m blessed that drinking has never been a problem for me, so that all the alcohol-related ailments that follow a lifetime of drinking is something I won’t worry about in old age.
Are you overweight? Here’s another tricky one, and I’m not trying to flatter myself by saying I’m not sure if I’m overweight (or not), but even though I’ve always been a bit over my fighting weight of 65 kilos most of my life, it’s never been too much of a problem, I’ve more or less been able to keep fit and spry, never mind the love handles and pilyegis on the side. But for every pound of fat that you keep attached to your torso after 50, you incur a corresponding number of percentage points regarding the likelihood of you dying by cardiovascular disease. Mahirap talaga kapag di ka magbawas ng timbang, and there is no other way except via diet and exercise. I don’t want to say that I’m losing the war against fat and more fat, but at my age it’s a daily struggle.
There, the first five questions asked and answered. Tell me if you want to hear about the next five questions, they’re just as compelling. But of course, that’s just me. Thanks for reading, and here’s to aging well and gracefully!