Men, Take Your Health to the Next Level
It’s probably no secret to anyone that, on average, women take a more proactive approach to their health than men do. That historic imbalance reveals its sobering effects in the facts. According to studies noted by the Men’s Health Network, men die an average of almost five years earlier than women, and at higher rates than women from the top 10 causes of death.
While there are many factors that contribute to this imbalance, one important – and preventable – contributor is awareness. Research shows that men are less aware of their overall health than women.
Men’s Health Month is observed nationally every June as a way to raise awareness and help reverse that trend. It’s a time for healthcare providers across the country to mark the occasion by providing health screenings, education and community outreach activities that raise awareness about the unique health issues that affect men. And it gives men an opportunity to make time to start focusing on their health.
Men should make their health a priority throughout the year and be aware of the negative impact ignoring their health can have, not only on their lives, but on the lives of their loved ones. As a month that hosts Father’s Day and a number of weddings and anniversaries, June is a time where many of us are already thinking about the special men in our lives, and it’s the perfect time to encourage them to schedule health screenings, discuss their health with loved ones and make healthy lifestyle changes.
In celebration of Men’s Health Month, here are some simple things that men can do to achieve a higher quality of life and take their health to the next level.
Schedule regular check-ups and exams with a primary care doctor
Traditionally, women are much more likely than men to visit the doctor for annual exams and preventive services. While many men may not perceive a pressing need to visit the doctor, many medical conditions common in men may not have obvious, discernible symptoms. Regular check-ups with a primary care physician can help flag any issues before they become a real problem.
Primary care doctors can also administer recommended health screenings, like weight checks, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels; and, as men age, they can give heart rhythm screenings, prostate and hemoccult exams and colonoscopies as recommended and needed.
Finding a primary care doctor you like and trust can lead to a better quality of life, reduce the risk of unexpected hospital visits and chronic illnesses and reduce your overall healthcare expenses. If you don’t have a primary care doctor, visit www.mgh.org/find-a-doctor to locate a primary care provider near you.
Besides in-office health screenings, there are certain self-exams – skin, oral and testicle exams – that all men over 20 years of age can and should perform regularly on their own at home.
Get an exercise routine and keep it fresh
Exercise is so important, and its numerous benefits can’t be ignored: longer life expectancy; lower risk for many common health issues; healthier muscles, bones and joints; better work performance; increased mental health and more energy.
Men’s bodies typically need three types of exercise at least three times a week:
- Resistance training to strengthen and tone muscles
- Stretching to enhance flexibility, balance and coordination and
- Aerobic exercise to improve heart and lung health
The key is to find activities that you enjoy so you don’t get stuck in an exercise rut. Complement your gym routine with outdoor activities like hiking and pick-up games in your backyard or local park. Vary your activities so your workouts stay fresh and interesting enough to “stick with the program.”
A healthy and balanced diet leads to optimum performance and health. Use vegetables and fruits as your primary sources for vitamins, minerals and fiber; and limit foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat and alcohol. And set the tone for your day and jumpstart your metabolism with a healthy breakfast.
Sleep, glorious sleep
Think of sleep as valuable health currency. Sleep is crucial to physical and mental performance. Sleep deprivation is associated with medical conditions including heart disease, diabetes and depression and increases the risk of accidents in the workplace and on the road. Take inventory of your sleep habits and make sure you’re getting the right amount of sleep. When you sleep better, you live better.
In everything, balance
Strive to create a healthy work/life balance. Determine your priorities. Figure out what’s really important to you, and focus on effectively managing your stress. Your mental well-being directly affects your physical health.
More information about men’s health issues and Men’s Health month can be found at www.menshealthmonth.org. For more information about UP Health System – Marquette and the services it provides for the men in the Upper Peninsula, visit www.mgh.org.