Know a man in Albany, GA or Orlando, FL? Health screenings on Saturday.

If you or a many you know lives in or around Albany, GA or Orlando, FL, take advantage of the free health screenings offered this Saturday, June 16, at the Orange County Convention Center (Orlando) and the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (Albany). Both events feature education programs and health screenings for prostate cancer, diabetes, cholesterol, and a number of other conditions, including HIV, kidney disease, stomach ulcers, oral cancer, and lung function.

You can read more about these events in my post on the Talking About Men’s Health Blog.


Zer0 cost men’s health screenings available at Sam’s Clubs on June 9

Men’s Health Month starts tomorrow. And to help celebrate, Sam’s Clubs are providing no-cost men’s health screenings at all their pharmacy locations. Screens include PSA, blood pressure, and BMI and will be offered from 11 am to 3 pm on Saturday, June 9.

There isn’t a Sam’s Club within 100 miles of here so I’ll be getting those potentially life-saving screens done elsewhere. But if there’s a store near you, take advantages of this offer.

The complete press release from Sam’s is here.


Workouts To Do With Your Wife

My wife is pregnant and I’d really like to work out with her. I have always been a bit of a jock, and I think it would be good for her to get some exercise too, but I’m worried that it might hurt the baby. Are there any exercises that are safe for us to do together?

If she’s already in good shape and her doctor approves, there’s no reason she can’t keep doing pretty much what she’s been doing. If she wasn’t a regular exerciser, this isn’t the time to take up rock climbing or start training for a marathon. At the same time, she shouldn’t plan on spending the entire pregnancy on the sofa. The key is to start easy and not push her if you see she’s feeling winded or tired.
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Women are healthier than men–except when they aren’t

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control found that men are more likely to get in 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per day than women (who averaged 18). 30 minutes/day seems to be the magic number, reducing one’s risk of metabolic syndrome, which is associated with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and diabetes.

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Think About This for a Minute (Or More)

Dear Mr. Dad: My seven-year old is very stressed. He’s constantly worried, can’t seem to focus in school, and almost always seems to be on edge. A friend suggested that we get our daughter to meditate. Sounds kind of kooky to me, but my friend insists that it’s a good thing. What do you think?

A: Despite having spent a good portion of my life either in Berkeley or just a few miles away, I used to be very skeptical about meditation and all the supposed benefits. It’s always sounded a bit too good to be true. After all, how could something so simple reduce stress and anxiety, lower your blood pressure and your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, cure insomnia, reduce chronic pain, help you fight off illness, combat depression , improve your memory and your grades, and make you taller, smarter, and better looking? But the reality is that with the exception of the taller and better looking parts, there’s actually scientific evidence behind all of the claims (and one could argue that reducing your stress, anxiety, and depression might make you walk a little taller and smile a lot more, which could improve your looks). Oh, and just so you know, these benefits have been found in children as well as adults.

While there’s little argument that meditating produces some pretty spectacular results, the problem has always been to explain exactly why it works. Some recent research has found that meditation helps open blood vessels, which in turn reduces blood pressure. And that reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. Other studies have found that meditators are able to control certain brain waves that help brain cells communicate with each other and make it easier to concentrate. But does it really matter why it works? Bottom line is that it’s not going to hurt to give it a shot, and it could very well help a lot.

Okay, now that you know that meditation isn’t as kooky as you’d thought, let’s talk about how to make it part of your child’s life.

  • Start by making it a part of your life too. Young children learn by imitating and if you’re doing it, they’ll want to join. The steps below will work just as well for you as for your child.
  • Don’t get bogged down by the name. There are all sorts of meditation styles: Transcendental, Zen, Mindfulness, to name just a few.
  • Block out some time. 15-20 minutes at a stretch is good for adults. For kids, 5-10 minutes is plenty, especially when you’re just starting.
  • Find a quiet place. The fewer outside distractions (TV, radio, conversations, etc), the better.
  • Get comfortable. You don’t have to be twisted into some painful pretzel-like pose or levitate a foot off the ground. You can meditate sitting in a comfortable chair, lying down, walking, or even swimming.
  • Focus on something. That could be a “mantra” (a word or phrase) or an object. But my suggestion is that you start with the simplest thing of all: your breath. Slowly count “one” for the first inhale, hold for two seconds, then exhale. Then “two” for the next set, and so on. I’m betting you won’t get to “three” before your mind starts heading off in 127 different directions at the same time. When that happens, resist the urge to criticize yourself for losing focus. Everyone does, so just observe that your mind has wandered and gently bring yourself back to your breathing and start counting again.

Weighing in on Childhood Obesity

Dear Mr. Dad: I’m concerned about my 12-year-old son. He’s been putting on a lot of weight lately and I’m worried that he’s going to develop some serious health problems. I’ve tried to interest him in doing more physical activity, but it doesn’t seem to work. How do I keep my kid from becoming just another statistic?

A: First of all, you deserve a big round of applause. Recent studies have found that over 60 percent of parents of overweight 10-12-year-olds don’t think their child has a problem. Neither do about 90 percent of parents of overweight 4-8 year olds. The fact that you’re concerned is wonderful.

Childhood obesity is a big problem—and it’s getting worse every day. Over the last three decades, overall obesity rates for children doubled. For adolescents, the rate tripled. Today, a third of kids 10 to 17 are overweight—half of them qualify as obese. Overweight and obese kids have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, respiratory and orthopedic problems, and Type 2 diabetes. That’s while they’re still kids. Over 80 percent of obese children become obese adults, and those health problems become even more dangerous. There’s also evidence that obesity also affects kids in non-life-threatening ways, including their academic performance, social development, and even their career success.

Your first order of business is to get your son to a doctor. This is important for a number of reasons. He or she will be able to tell exactly how overweight your son actually is. Children go through growth spurts, and often put on a bit of extra weight before shooting up in height. There’s also a chance—albeit a pretty slim one—that you’re wrong about your son and making a mountain out of a molehill.

Next on the list is to make sure your child is getting enough exercise. Current recommendations are that all of us—adults and children—should get an hour of sweat-inducing exercise every day. Unfortunately, less than a third of children 6-17 get even 20 minutes/day. And don’t count on your child getting that exercise at school. Budget problems have reduced or eliminated many physical education programs.

Limiting TV and video game time is critical. The Kaiser Family Foundation recently found that kids 8-18 spend an average of six hours/day in front of one kind of screen or another. While some of that time is clearly important, a lot isn’t. So let your son earn his screen time by putting in an equal amount of hours doing physical activity. If he balks, at least pick up some games for whatever device you have (X-Box, Wii, etc). Some of the new motion-sensing titles may be more successful in getting your son off the couch than you are.

Of course you should pay attention to your son’s diet, but don’t forget about his drinks. We all know that sugary sodas are bad news. But fruit juice isn’t much better. You can minimize problems by insisting on regular (and healthy) family dinners, a good breakfast, drinking more water, and banning junk-food snacks from your home. Also, make sure your son gets enough sleep—9-10 hours/night. Less than that increases his obesity risk.

Finally, take a look at your own behavior. Are you practicing what you’re preaching? At 12, your son is paying more attention to what you do than what you say. But your words are still important. So rather than focus on his weight, talk to him about his health. Coming down too hard could backfire and make the problem worse.