Your general health

You and your general health are the way they are – as a result of your genetic DNA and lifestyle choices you’ve made in your life so far.

The good news is that your future health will also be a result of the lifestyle choices you make now and into the future, so the key to a healthy future is making the right lifestyle choices now – and you can even reverse some of the damage from poor lifestyle choices made so far!

Health Check

The best place to start when developing health and well-being goals is to get a physical check up from your doctor. He’ll then be able to tell you your risk factors and what aspects of your health you should focus on.

A health check-up should include:

  • Check of health statistics – height, weight, blood pressure, pulse rate, breathing rate, circulation – all give an indication of your general health. These also set the baseline health measurements for your health goals.
  • Your health history – what injuries and illnesses you’ve had/ still have and how this affects your current health, any bad health habits (smoking, drinking, drugs, etc), vaccinations, etc. This is important for your GP to be able to set the scene in terms of your overall health.
  • Family history – equally important in setting the scene, many health problems are genetic [diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, some cancers - just to name a few of the nasties] so a review of your family’s health history can highlight particular health risks for you. If you know your risks, you can monitor your own health for them.
  • Nutrition and exercise – both critical to your overall health, a review of your nutrition and exercise history will give your GP an indication of likely trouble spots with your health.
  • Stress, sleep quality and energy – so many of us complain about not having enough energy, or being stressed from the pressures of life. These elements can also affect our overall health, so it is important to talk to your GP about any problems you’re having.
  • Know your risk factors – based on the above, your GP can determine your health risk factors and help you establish health goals based on mitigating these risk factors.

Make sure you think about these health aspects before you see your GP, so if you have any particular concerns, you can discuss them in more detail.

The General Health checklist in the ToolBOX under the section on 'Health Tools' will give you a starting point – fill this in and discuss the results with your GP.

You can also use on-line general health self diagnosis tools to help you keep track of your health – but always make sure you see a doctor in person if you are concerned about anything do to with your health.

Monitoring your health

You can monitor many health elements yourself. Self-monitoring of weight, fitness level, energy level, resting pulse and breathing rates and general feeling of health is a good indicator of how your health goals are progressing. And don’t forget those self-examinations for skin cancer, breast cancer or prostate cancer.

You can also monitor Blood Pressure and Blood sugar at home with special equipment and test kits, if these are of concern to you.

Most importantly though, it is important to establish with your GP a schedule of recommended check-ups for general health (ie with your GP), cancer scans (skin, breast, prostate, cervical, bowel) and vaccinations.

There is a 10 year schedule in the ToolBOX under 'Health Tools', for this very purpose.

Use it to schedule your future check-ups (including dental, optical and hearing), vaccinations and scans and also use it to record any major event that may affect your future health – record events such as major illnesses or injuries, accidents (even if there was no ‘’injury’ at the time), overseas holidays and lifestyle changes such as moving town or even moving house. You’d be surprised how the source of many illnesses can be tracked back to an event or exposure many years before.

And once you have a schedule – stick to it!

Just take care of yourself

The main message here is just to look after yourself – if people see that you look after yourself and your appearance, they usually think more of you than if you are lazy about personal care. And of course, this is even more important if you have children so you can lead by example.

So as well as your general health, make sure you:

  • Get your eye-sight and hearing checked periodically – living with poor eyesight can be dangerous to your safety, and hearing loss can be particularly frustrating for you and people trying to communicate with you.
  • A smile is one of your best assets so practice good dental hygiene – brush your teeth daily to maintain fresh breath and use breath freshener if necessary. Get regular dental check-ups as well to keep your pearly whites glowing.
  • Look after your skin and hair – the best thing you can do for your skin is drink heaps of water, eat healthy food, keep out of the sun and quit smoking! Weekly exfoliation with a lufa (you can grow your own if you like) and daily application of a sun-protection moisturiser is all you need.

    And keep your hair tidy, free from re-growth and well kempt to create that “love the skin you’re in” impression.

And just be responsible for yourself and look after your own safety, general health and well-being.