According to a survey by Men’s Health magazine and CNN, one third of American men do not go to the doctor for check-ups. Often, this is due to men feeling fear, denial, embarrassment or that their masculinity is threatened (American Medical Association). National Men’s Health Month was created to empower men to take control of their health. During this time, healthcare providers, public policy makers, and the media make an extra push to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury.
Men can take daily steps to live safer and healthier lives and protect themselves from disease and injury. This doesn’t have to be an entire overhaul of how you go about your daily routine. There are numerous things you can do every day to improve your health and stay healthy. Try the following suggestions:
Get Enough Sleep: Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression. Also, insufficient sleep can be responsible for motor vehicle and machinery-related accidents, which causes substantial injury and disability each year. Sleep guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation recommend that in general, adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
Be Smoke Free: Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits. According to Mayo Clinic, within 20 minutes after smoking that last cigarette, your body begins a series of positive changes that continues for years. The heart rate decreases, twelve hours later, carbon monoxide in the blood returns to normal, and after a year the risk of having a heart attack related to smoking drops by half. There’s no time like the present to quit.
Be Physically Active: The summer is a good time to get active with family and friends. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate exercise for 2 hours and 30 minutes every week. Walk, go for a hike or a bike ride, or head to the local pool for a swim. For more information, see CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity web site.
Eat What Counts: Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Try to steer clear of drinks high in calories, sugar, fat and alcohol. Choose healthy snacks. Here’s a list provided by the American Heart Association of ways to eat a healthier diet.
Pay Attention to Signs and Symptoms: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men should pay special attention to symptoms like discharge, excessive thirst, rash or soreness, problems with urination, and shortness of breath, and should see a doctor if they occur.
Know and Understand Your Numbers: Keep track of your numbers for blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and body mass index (BMI), just to name a few. These numbers can provide a glimpse of your health status and risk for certain diseases. Be sure to ask your doctor what tests you need and how often you need them. If your numbers are high or low, he or she can explain what they mean and make recommendations to help you get them to a healthier range.
Get a Doctor Lined Up. It’s very important for men to have an established primary care physician. Having regularly scheduled visits with your doctor, who can track your health as you age, can be one of the best courses of preventative care for any man.
Need help finding a doctor? If you’re a Health Advocate member, you can call us today to speak to a Personal Health Advocate who can help you locate an in-network, local, primary care physician. Also, some Health Advocate members may have access to our Wellness Coaching program—call today to enlist the help of a Wellness Coach in meeting your fitness or healthy eating goals, and more!