A health capital you can optimize

Your Health Health is certainly our most valued gift, this is a unanimous fact. But what do we do on an everyday basis, whether it is personal or as a group, to maintain our health level or even to improve it? What is “health”? The World Health Organization (WHO) gave a definition of health in 1946. “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.” * This definition is still actual. Health is a “complete state”, not only the “absence of disease”. In the collective mind, “not being sick” means “to be in good health”. Although health goes beyond the state of “not being sick”. We just need to be conscious of this definition. Unfortunately, the notion of health, and especially health capital, remains very blurry nowadays. The French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) has shown interesting elements thanks to a particular hint: “the healthy life expectancy”. It does not revolve around living longer but also and specially to live long and healthy – “in a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being” as the WHO would define it. INSEE defines the healthy life expectancy (at birth) or healthy life years (HLY) as the number of healthy years someone can expect to have (from birth). Good health is defined by the absence of activity limitation (AAL) (in everyday actions) and the absence of incapacity. AAL is an indicator of health expectancy combining information on mortality and morbidity. Information used for its assessment are prevalence measures (proportions) of a population at a specific age, in good or bad health conditions and information on mortality by age. It can also be called disability free life expectancy. However, according to figures published by INSEE, if life expectancy as a whole keeps on growing in spite of a few plateaus, healthy life expectancy has been decreasing since 2008 in France, reaching 61.9 years for men and 63.5 years for women in 2012 (source: INSEE, April 2013). Beyond extremely shocking figures, since they are contradictory to the idea of health evolution in France, two problems are at stake:
  • First: how are we growing old? How is our health capital worsening? The only way to answer these very personal questions is to search one’s physiological age and to perform individual thorough checkups.
  • But also and most importantly: How can we improve this situation? It all depends on the vision we have on our own health and on our own will to – or not to – act on our own healthy destiny. To make people responsible is to give them back their share of liberty. These problems must raise awareness.
Two very different aspects which are however deeply linked: growing old and diseases Our health capital declines faster or slower from the moment we step into adult age (18-20 years old). This decline is connected to our genetic heritage, our lifestyle and our environment. The latest studies show that genetics represents about 30% of the factors of decline, which means that 70% of our ageing process can be act upon. If we consider that the evolution of our genetic heritage is linked to our lifestyle and our environment (epigenetic), then new perspectives are open to us.
  • First, we will feel almost no effect of our decreasing health capital. Our stocks are so high between 20 and 30 years old that it is hard to perceive any difference as the years go by.
  • Between 30 and 50 years old, we are usually so caught up by our personal and professional life that it is hard to see how time flies. But it does fly! Our best years go by without us really noticing.
  • The 50-60 era is the major turning point. Rising weight (or it can be difficult to lose weight), rising blood pressure, rising cholesterol as well as blood sugar levels but not at an alarming level. We tell ourselves “the results will get better next time…”. However, they rather announce upcoming diseases.
  • Between 60-70, results unfortunately don’t get better – quite the contrary, normal values are getting crushed and your doctor must prescribe one or more treatments.
  • Between 70-80, the challenge is not to lose your autonomy.
You can see that the spontaneous alteration of our different physiological systems will endanger us in a progressive way by diminishing our functional capacities. Even if it remains essential to treat existing diseases, managing your health capital is a fundamental and prime approach. It will help to prevent the development of diseases and allow to grow old healthily.   *Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19-22 June, 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, no. 2, p. 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948. This definition has not been modified since 1946. **

Company directors and their neglected health

Health and wellness are globally essential to any human company, because its members are decisive links in the chain of its success. However, company directors usually escape controls (work medicine, health checkups, visits to a GP…) that the company has established to detect health issues in the workplace. These issues also affect company directors who do not have a magical shield to protect them. Diseases, burnouts, musculoskeletal disorders… can also affect senior executives. It is not acceptable to complain or to take some time off for yourself and/or for your family. This situation is absolutely alarming considering that the future of the company and its employees can entirely depend on the director’s physical and intellectual capacities. This situation especially exists among directors of small businesses, who, as opposed to directors of huge companies, have to be present on all fronts and mostly exclusively alone. Furthermore, business directors usually don’t like to talk about their health. They have to stand above this issue: they are supposed to be indestructible. They have to be winners and their situation is incompatible with suffering, which makes them particularly vulnerable because their organism is exposed to multiple and repeated stress episodes: heart or brain strokes, cancers, depression, exhaustion… are also serious risks they are exposed to. We must raise awareness among business leaders to take care of their health, so that they become aware of their employees’ health. A business leader who takes care of their health should also be attentive to their collaborators’ health in order to create a virtuous circle which would benefit everyone, including inside the company. Business leaders face more often than we think the 3Ds theory: depression, dismantling of the company, divorce and even sometimes another D for death, as written by the specialist of bosses’ health, Mr. Olivier TORRES, founder of AMAROK, the observatory for the health of small businesses’ leaders. A complete checkup and personalized care: Each person has an individual appointment for a long interview during which the most adapted checkup will be defined, according to the person’s lifestyle, their personal and family background, and their environment. Each checkup will be followed by a synthetic consultation enabling to set goals and give the means to achieve them. Beyond fundamental and useful advice such as “eat less fat, less salt, less sugar” or simply “eat less” and “workout”, instructions must be adapted to the man or woman we are facing. This personalized information is the key to achieving real results and leave behind discouraging series of failure. If you feel tired, exhausted, discouraged, it is high time to take charge of your health.