YouCheck.ca Turns Health Knowledge Into Power

Like many of you, I love checking things: My hair (or lack thereof), my account balances (or lack thereof), my luggage (as long as I don’t have to pay those annoying fees)…you get the idea.

But like most men, checking our health is another matter. We know it’s important — crucial, even — to go for regular medical exams, exercise, and watch what we eat, drink and otherwise consume, but the urge to connect our lifestyle to our overall health is often lacking. What we don’t know won’t hurt us, right?

What the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation is trying to get through to us is that we really need to shift this way of thinking (or not thinking!). Compared to women, men die sooner, enter their unhealthy years approximately 10 years earlier, and succumb more often to 14 of the 15 most common causes of death in Canada. Ignorance, it seems, is the furthest thing from bliss.

That’s where YouCheck.ca comes in. The innovative health awareness survey asks 18 questions about health history and lifestyle, and then assesses the risk of developing seven of the most common diseases and conditions among Canadian men.

Approximately eight minutes after starting the comfortingly anonymous and confidential survey — questions range from age and weight to blood pressure, family medical history and sleep habits — I’m presented with the “results and recommendations” page. As I scroll down, turning my head as if watching a slasher flick, I soon realize the picture isn’t all doom and gloom. In fact, YouCheck.ca presents the results in an easily digestible, even friendly way, using coloured icons and charts to reveal the extent of various risk factors. Better still, this is followed by an “action plan” that lets me apply these results to my lifestyle by providing insights and tips on everything from sleep and nutrition to physical activity and alcohol consumption.

The free tool was developed through a partnership between the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation with support from Sun Life Financial. It was pilot tested last year by 2,400 users, many of whom provided glowing feedback.

“I will work on lowering my risk factors and checking out some things with my GP right away,” said one participant. “I found the survey very revealing.”

Another enthused: “This helps me to be in control of my health and work with my healthcare provider to continue to maintain a good quality of life in my later years.”

But perhaps most telling was this admission: “It told me what I was expecting, but not wanting to admit.”

For me, the YouCheck.ca survey was an overwhelmingly positive experience that was more about “knowledge is power” than “what I don’t know won’t hurt me.”

In short, every man in Canada should add YouCheck.ca to the list of things he actually loves — yes, loves — to check.

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