Healthbeat 4: Prioritizing health during harvest season

Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 7:15 AM CDT
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - Every career comes with risks. With how physical farming is, the options for injury are endless.

Whether it is climbing in and out of a tractor or doing the heavy lifting, farmers should prioritize their health the same they do their crops.

“The combination of increased risk of falling and operating heavy machinery can put you at risk for an accident. So if you’re finding yourself off balance or feeling like you’re close to falling, it’s important to speak to your physician about it, there could be an underlying health issue that could be putting you at risk for falling. It’s also important to stay physically active as you get older. So we recommend 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week. That helps with falls,” said Dr. Vanessa Ogundipe with MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center.

With the year we’ve had, it is no wonder farmers are stressed. Too much stress can have adverse health effects.

According to The American Farm Bureau, 66% of farmers or farmworkers say the pandemic impacted their mental health -- 87% say it’s important to reduce the stigma about mental health in the ag community.

“Mental health definitely affects many areas of your life sleeping, eating, your ability to do physical activity, and other things that keep you healthy. It can even affect your memory and your brain’s ability to function -- heart strain would be fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, things like that would be red flags to go into your doctor,” said Dr. Ogundipe.

Rural healthcare has challenges and Dr. Ogundipe knows it’s hard for farmers to justify driving out of town to visit a doctor.

Even though farmers are known to be independent and push through tough times, that can’t apply to taking care of their health.

“Make sure you’re up to date on cancer screening vaccinations. We like to check heart function, and all other major organ functions. We have telemedicine, it has become really popular since COVID. So even if you can’t come for face-to-face meetings every time, we can still reach you from the comfort of your own home,” said Dr. Ogundipe.