A TALK ABOUT PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE

Good morning. I’m Dr Pat Parkep and I’m here to talk to
you about preventative medicine in its widestand most personal aspects. In other words, I’m here to tell you how the
patient should wrest control of their health away from the practitioners of medicine and
take charge of their own medical destiny. I want to talk about staying out of the hands
of the doctor. When the patient takes responsibility for
her or his own health—and let’s decide the patient is male for now—men are in fact
more at risk than women anyway—when the patient takes over his own health regime he
must decide what he wants to do. The first thing, of course, is to give up
the demon nicotine. Smoking is the worst threat to health, and
it’s self-inflicted damage. I have colleagues who are reluctant to treat
smokers. If you want to stay well, stay off tobacco
and smoking in all its manifestations. Our department has recently completed a survey
of men’s health. We looked at men in different age groups and
occupations, and we came up with a disturbing insight. Young men, particularly working-class men,
are at considerable risk of premature death because of their life style. As a group, they have high risk factors they
drink too much alcohol; they smoke more heavily than any other group; their diet is frequently
heavy in saturated fats; and they don’t get enough exercise. We then did a smaller survey in which we looked
at environmental factors which affect health. I had privately expected to find air or water
pollution to be the biggest hazards, and they must not be ignored. However, the effects of the sun emerged as
a threat which people simply do not take sufficiently seriously. Please remember that too much sunlight can
cause permanent damage. Given this information, and the self-destructive
things which people, particularly young men, are doing to themselves, one could be excused
for feeling very depressed. However, I believe that a well-funded education
campaign will help us improve public health standards and will be particularly valuable
for young men. I’m an optimist. I see things improving, but only if we work
very hard. In the second part of the talk I want to consider
different things that you as students can do
to improve your fitness. So now I’d like toissue a qualificationto
everything I say. People will still get sick, and they will
still need doctors. This advice is just to reduce the incidence
of sickness. It would be great if disease were preventable,
but it’s not. However, we have power. In the late 80’s the Surgeon-General of the
United States said that 53 percent of our illnesses could be avoided by healthy lifestyle
choices. I now want to discuss these choices with you. You should try to make keeping fit fun! It’s very hard to go out and do exercises
by yourself, so it’s wise to find a sport that you like and play it with other people. If you swim, you can consider scuba diving
or snorkelling. If you jog, try to find a friend to go with. If you walk, choose pretty places to walk
or have a reason for walking. Your exercise regime should be a pleasure,
not a penance. The university is an excellent place to find
other people who share sporting interests with you, and there are many sports teams
you can join. This, unfortunately, raises the issue of sports
injuries, and different sports have characteristic injuries. As well as accidental injuries, we find repetitive
strain injuries occurring in sports where the same motion is frequently performed, like
rowing and squash. The parallel in working life is repetitive
strain injury which may be suffered by typists or other people who perform the same action
hour after hour, day after day. In this context, therefore, the most important
thing to remember before any sport is to warm-up adequately. Do stretching exercises, and aim at all times
to increase your flexibility. Be gentle with yourself, and allow time to
prepare for the game you have chosen to play. Don’t be fooled by the term ‘warm-up’, by
the way. It’s every bit as important to do your warm-up
exercises on a hot day as on a cool one. I think one of the most sensible and exciting
developments in the reduction of injury is the recognition that all sports can borrow
from each other. Many sports programmes are now encouraging
players to use cross-training techniques, that is, to borrow training techniques from
other sports. Boxers have been using their cross-training
for years building up stamina by doing road work and weight training, while honing their
skills and reflexes. Other sports which require a high level of
eye-hand co-ordination are following this trend, so you see table tennis players running
and jogging to improve their performance, and footballers doing flexibility exercises
which can help them control the ball better. All of these results are good, but the general
sense of well-being is best, and is accessible to us all, from trained athletes to people
who will never run a 100 metres in less than 15 seconds. Good health is not only for those who wilt
achieve athletic greatness!.

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