This article is the first in a three-part series on the importance of functional health for men and how technology can be used to support a healthy lifestyle.
As we age, things become more difficult to do. You may be a bit slower walking up the stairs. Or more worried about slipping and hurting yourself. You may have lifted weights in the past, but now see that you just can’t finish that last rep. There are many ‘quick fix’, overnight success fitness gurus and programs out there, but it’s not (or never has been) that easy. It takes hard work to wake up early and to go for a walk or a run. Sometimes it takes a little more effort these days than it used to take to be intimate with your significant other. It may take a little more time to get through your normal daily routine. Just remember, all of that is OK. It’s the price of getting older.
With that in mind, you don’t have to let it get you down. There are many simple tools you can use to help get fitter and think healthier. Throughout this series, we will lay out some tools, techniques, and tips with a focus on functional health, sexual health, and how your practitioner can leverage technology to support managing your healthy life.
Let’s talk function
In this first article, we’ll focus on the overall goal of functional health, how it supports keeping you “feeling young,” and some available digital solutions you can use—right now—to help you start or continue improving your overall health.
What is functional health?
When you think about getting healthy and staying healthy, what comes to mind? Running? Lifting weights? Improving your diet? Drinking more water? While all of those count as being a part of a healthy journey, how do you know which one would work best for your specific situation? Is there a catalyst for the need to, say, do more yoga or change your diet? Functional health can help get you started.
Functional health is “…about optimizing your ability to do the activities that you need to do and that you want to do, without being hampered by pain or injury.” This state of well-being is supported by the practice of functional medicine, a type of research and medical practice that focuses on the basics of a healthy lifestyle. According to the Institute for Functional Medicine, functional medicine is “…a systems biology-based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease.” In other words, what is currently negatively affecting your health, could be the outgrowth of an underlying medical issue that needs to be addressed. This isn’t always a serious medical issue, but could there be an issue today that needs some short-term intervention to reap improved long-term health outcomes? Also, the focus of functional medicine isn’t solely about more medications, but about a more fundamental healthy outlook that addresses problems instead of masking or simply medicating them.
The ability for the body to run, lift, climb, swim, walk, or do any of the daily physical activities that one needs or wants to do are all rooted in strong, positive functional health. Keeping physically active is known to help with brain health, managing weight, reducing the risk of disease, strengthening bones and muscles, and improving mental, sexual, and even emotional health—it also supports a feeling of staying young!
As men age, staying physically active gets harder, but what is one way to help with the motivation needed to keep moving? Community support. When starting a healthy living journey, it’s important to have someone that can help hold you accountable for your progress. That could be a trusted friend, a spouse or partner, or your care provider. Once the root cause of any health conditions is discovered (based on a functional health evaluation and assessment), a specific program can be developed that could include any number of physical activities, changes in diet, or even mental health assistance. Creating a community, no matter the size, will go a long way to helping you achieve your healthy living goals.
Tools & technologyThere are many ways to support and monitor progress as you improve your fitness level. From apps to wearable devices, manual journaling to live feedback. Calcium’s app manages all aspects of your health in one place and digital health technology helps to promote your ability to stay active through pathways and achievement challenges. Your functional medicine practitioner can also use Calcium’s platform to view your trends and alerts, set reminders, and provide personalized care. For competitive types, the app has leaderboards to compare and track progress over time. These challenges, like the Jumping Jack Challenge and the Let’s Get Moving Challenge can be started on your own or with the partnership of your functional medicine specialist. This can be a key part of your overall health journey.
Using a digital health solution (like the Calcium app), is simple and can help you reach your goals:
- Download the Calcium app
- Sync the app with your favorite fitness tracker or health wearable device
- Keep track of all your health and fitness with the tracking/monitoring data, progress and results in the Calcium app
- Share with your practitioner to keep them apprised of your progress
- Participate in one or more of the available pathways and challenges
- Have some friendly competition on Calcium’s leaderboard or invite a friend or family member to earn badges and beat your personal bests
Functional health is a vital component of your journey. Understanding why something may hurt, not just that it does, could help your doctor and care team focus wellness strategies on something other than just prescribing medications and more on improving your diet and implementing more useful and functional movements in your exercise routine. Even with a chronic condition like type 2 diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or arthritis, men can benefit from functional health assessments that prescribe physical activities like walking or using a stationary bike.
A state of mind
Aging is a part of life. There’s nothing that can be done to stop it, but there is certainly something that can be done to make sure that, as you grow older, there are fewer aches and pains, and you can remain active. “Staying young” is actually a state of mind. As you age, continuing to be as active as possible, watching your diet, and maintaining a positive outlook is the best way to feel your best.
In part two of this article series on functional health strategies for men, we’ll discuss how functional medicine also plays an important role in one of the top concerns of men: sexual health.