Public Interest

How to look after you

Keeping on top of what your mind and body needs is not a set and forget exercise as Kate Jones reports.

Plumbers are among Australia’s most active workers, sometimes on their feet for hours on end, others may be sitting still for hours on end quoting up jobs and getting on top of administration. On top of this comes the stress of meeting deadlines, keeping clients happy, managing staff and generally keeping ahead of the game.

If you see something that doesn’t seem right, act on it. That doesn’t mean you’re any less blokey, you’re just looking out for yourself and being there for your family and long-term wellbeing.

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How to look after you

In a recent episode of Master Plumbers Radio, Dr Izzy Smith talks about the importance of looking after yourself. Izzy is an Australianbased endocrinology doctor and a passionate advocate for mental health. She is an ambassador and keynote speaker for the Movember and PukaUp organisations, and the co-host of the mental health podcast, Behind the Uniform.

On the podcast, she shares her insights and tips on how plumbers can maintain their health and wellbeing to keep up with the demands of the job.

It’s ok to be blokey, but visit the doctor

Stereotypes about men and their physical health have been around for eons. The ‘she’ll be right’ attitude has claimed too many men, including Izzy’s father.

“My dad died from cancer, and he had a lot of early warning signs,” she says.

“But he literally made my mom promise that she wouldn’t tell the rest of the family, even though he was losing weight (and) he had lumps and bumps that weren’t normal.

“I think often we distinguish mental health versus physical health, but the cultures in mental health of men not wanting to show weakness, not wanting to ask for help, that extends as far as thinking that a physical health problem could be perceived as weakness.”

It’s a culture among men that doctors and mental health advocates are urgently trying to change. Seeing a doctor when something doesn’t seem right should be encouraged and most importantly, could save lives.

“There’s nothing wrong with being blokey, but you can still eat your veggies and go to the doctor once every one to two years,” Izzy says.

“And if you see something that doesn’t seem right, act on it. That doesn’t mean you’re any less blokey, you’re just looking out for yourself and being there for your family and long-term wellbeing.”

It’s not hard to be healthy

Being healthy isn’t that complicated. Small changes aren’t daunting, don’t take much time and will bring healthy results in the long run.

“You don’t need to go vegan or keto or go to the gym twice a day,” Izzy explained.

“That’s not sustainable, and often I see, especially with men, I think they’re kind of all or nothing when it comes to health. But really, it’s about small changes in the long-run.”

Even though plumbers are commonly doing exercise on the job, they still need to factor in some purposeful activity that gets the heart rate going. Building just 30 minutes of exercise into the day, could make all the difference to developing a range of chronic conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.

“So, when we talk about physical activity, it’s something that’s causing a bit of stress to the body,” Izzy explains.

“We get fitter and stronger, and healthy from exercise; from giving our body a little bit of stress and then the adaptions and recovery from that stressor is how we get fitter.

“If you’re only ever stressing your body in your movement in your day-to-day job, you’re not actually improving your fitness.”

How to get moving

It’s important to choose an exercise you enjoy so it doesn’t become a chore. Izzy advises thinking back to childhood activities, whether it’s skateboarding or cycling, and starting there.

Whatever the activity, don’t make it about weight loss. The goal, particularly for those plumbers stuck behind a desk, is to just get moving.

“Being sedentary and sitting in an office is increasing the risk of heart disease, obesity, so even if you’re mixing it up, going for a walk in the day, that’s going to be beneficial,” Izzy says.

“If you’re sedentary all day, you’re not getting those beneficial hormones, also the mental health benefits of moving, all the endorphins of exercise as well.

“It doesn’t need to be much to break it up. Even if you do 15 minutes of moderate high intensity exercise every other day, you’re going to significantly decrease your risk of heart disease.”

Time to change up the diet

You’ve heard it before, but if you’re not getting enough fruit and vegetables into you, it’s time to rethink your diet.

Like exercise, Izzy recommends starting with small changes that are easy to achieve.

“There’s amazing public health studies that showed if people ate one or two more serves of vegetables per day, the rates of heart attacks and strokes at a population level would decrease significantly,” she said.

“I don’t want people to feel like being healthier is taking away from their life, so I always focus on adding more… adding more veggies, adding more water, adding more sleep. Because I feel like as humans, we don’t like restriction and we don’t like being told what to do.

“So, focus on adding the good stuff and trying to replace the junk food snacks with something healthy.”

Making small changes to your lifestyle can have incredible results to the way you feel, both physically and mentally. As they say, the little things add up.

So don’t think you need to overhaul your life to become healthier and in Izzy’s words, “Never be too scared to start with the smallest change”.


Listen to the full interview here 

If you would like to hear from other experts in future episodes of Master Plumbers Radio, email [email protected]

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If you see something that doesn’t seem right, act on it. That doesn’t mean you’re any less blokey, you’re just looking out for yourself and being there for your family and long-term wellbeing.

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