Are there any easy to spot signs that indicate that you are a healthy guy? Of course regular medical check-ups by a qualified doctor are essential – s/he will routinely check your blood pressure, cholesterol, bone density, blood chemistry and more, but what if you simply want to keep an eye on your health on a daily basis?
Here are some easy to monitor, simple but effective indicators of exactly how fit a bloke you are:
1. Heart rate
Your resting heart rate (RHR), which is the number of times your heart beats per minute while you are at rest, is a great indicator of your overall fitness. Simply press your index and middle fingers against your pulse on your wrist or neck, count the number of beats in 15 seconds and multiply by four.
While it varies with age, a RHR of about 70 to 75 indicates good health although anything between 60 and 100 is generally considered normal for adults. Also, a respiratory rate of around 16 to 20 breaths per minute is normal for fit grown-ups.
Don’t worry, we won’t send you off for a pedicure. Simply looking at your fingernails will give you a good indication of your overall health. They should be firm, pink and smooth. Don’t worry about a few cloudy patches or ridges running from the cuticle towards the fingertip, but keep a lookout for brittle nails, ones that curve upwards in a spoon-like manner and ones with horizontal grooves, ridges and indentations running from side to side.
Shiny hair is good, while dull, brittle, lifeless and grey hair may be a sign of a poor diet.
Read more: 13 things your body is trying to tell you
Healthy skin is elastic, although it loses some of its bounce as you get older. Pinch the skin on the back of your hand. It should return to its normal state very quickly. If it doesn’t, you might be suffering from dehydration. Also look for a loss in skin colour tending towards the grey as a possible indicator for less than perfect health.
It might not have occurred to you, but your urine may reveal important clues about your wellbeing. Ideally, it should be pale yellow in colour, but that really depends on how much water you drink – if it’s as brown as iced tea you’re probably somewhat dehydrated. Keep an eye (and nose) out for any major changes in odour and colour which you can’t reconcile with whatever food, dietary supplements or medicine you’ve been consuming. A reddish colour and an unusual smell should send you to your GP for a consultation.
Talking of human effluents, you might as well make a habit of monitoring your number twos as well! A good stool, indicative of a healthy digestive system, is soft, easy to pass, torpedo-shaped and mid-brown in colour. Keeping in mind what you’ve been eating, watch out for changes in regularity, consistency and colour. Very dark, very pale, grey and bright red are warning signs.
Read more: 15 things you didn't know about urine
And while we’re on bodily fluids, as a general rule of thumb, a healthy man should typically ejaculate anywhere from 2 to 5ml of semen, which should be grey or white and, well …sticky. Anything too runny, tinged with blood or less than a good teaspoon full on a regular basis should raise concern.
A healthy tongue should be warm, pinkish in colour and not overly smooth, pale or yellowish.
8. Body mass index
A body mass index (BMI) of between 18 and 25 is typically considered healthy, but if you are especially muscular or naturally slim, it may be higher or lower respectively. Use our handy BMI calculator to calculate you personal rating.
9. Overall fitness
As a healthy adult, you should be able to walk up the stairs at work and carry your groceries from your car to your kitchen without excessive huffing and puffing or collapsing into a heap on the floor. You should manage to walk a mile (1.61 kilometres) in 15 minutes.
(Andrew Luyt, Health24, updated March 2014)
Read more: Screening tests all men should have