10 ways to know your health as an expat

Health is not just about the absence of illness or disease, it also is about how active you are and able to stand through tough times in your life.

Health is also about having enough energy for your mind and body to function so that you can live the life you want, whether that is overcoming work issues, dealing with family problems or planning time in your busy schedule for hobbies and activities.

In this post we discuss 10 tips to quickly determine your health when living or working abroad as an expat.

Your health is more than just your genes and there are many internal and external factors that influence how you see yourself as being healthy. As an expat, you may be confronted with external factors when you live in another country, new cultures and way of life. Maybe living in a new environment affects your behaviour. For instance, a new country where it is normal for after-work drinks may make it easier for you to have one or two extra alcoholic beverages and in turn you may feel too tired the next day to continue your workout routine. If this continues, you can find yourself putting on weight, being less fit and feeling sad.

The above is an extreme example of how a new environment can affect your health, but let us look at how you determine your health.

There are various tests that we can do as medical doctors to get an idea of how healthy you are.
When one of our doctors consults you and performs a physical examination, they will measure your blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, oxygen saturation levels and a few drops of blood can determine your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

A healthy body and mind functions better, strengthens your immune system and ensures endurance and resilience when undergoing tough times. It is not to say that you need to be a super athlete in order to be healthy, simple routines in your daily life as an expat can help you maintain health.

For instance you can play a game of football with your child(ren) three times a week or every weekend, you can do groceries a 15 minute bike ride away. Whatever your choice, being active at least 4 times a week for up to 25 minutes a day is the recommendation.

Here are the 10 ways to test your health:

  1. Do you eat fresh unprocessed meals?
  2. Is your Body Mass Index (your weight divided by your height (squared)) within the normal range?
  3. Have you quit smoking or never smoked in your life?
  4. Do you consume moderate alcoholic beverages?
  5. Are you able to deal with stress and take time to relax?
  6. Can you walk 3 flights of stairs without gasping for breath?
  7. Do you make it a habit for quality time with friends and family?
  8. Do you engage in activities like walking, cycling, part of a sport club?
  9. Do you sleep well at night?
  10. Are you well rested in the morning and look forward to your day?

The more “yes ” you answer to the self-health check list above the healthier you are. If you answer “no ” to any of these, it may be a good idea to take a look at why that is. Speak to a doctor or therapist to give you guidance or support.

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