People don’t realize how fragile their health can be until something tragic happens to them or a family member, which causes them to take action. The United States Congress created Men’s Health Week in 1994 to boost awareness of men’s health and ways to improve it.
Each year, the week leading up to and including Father’s Day is celebrated as Men’s Health Week. It’s a good time for men to contemplate their life, fitness, and overall health, and most importantly, to do something about it.
Men and women have different health risks, respond differently to medications, and vary in how often they seek medical care. The truth is, most men need to pay more attention to their health. Compared to women, men are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, make unhealthy or risky choices, and put off regular checkups.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death for men, but its symptoms are not often visible. If diagnosed early, heart disease can be easier to treat, and you can avoid traumatic or fatal consequences such as heart attack. Almost one-third of men in the United States have high blood pressure, and more than 50 percent are not doing anything to control it.
Men’s Health Week encourages men to find resources to help them stay active and healthy, and, most importantly, find a health care provider they can trust. Therefore, physicians and men’s health activists mark Men’s Health Week with awareness campaigns to highlight health concerns such as diabetes, osteoporosis, family health, workplace accidents, and higher likelihood of suicide.
It’s never too late to improve your health, no matter how old you are or what your current health status is.
Here are 10 things men can do to improve their health:
1. Exercise regularly: Exercising is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. Even if only for 30 minutes, exercise can lower your risk of having a heart attack or dying from heart disease. Please consult your physician before starting a new exercise regimen.
2. Get checked for cancer: If you are age 50 or older and have not been screened for colorectal cancer, you should. The risk of developing colon cancer increases with age. Of the various cancer screenings available to men, a colonoscopy is highly effective because it can prevent cancer. During this procedure, your doctor can find and remove precancerous colon polyps. If you have a sibling or parent who had a polyp removed before age 60, or had colon cancer at any age, it’s a good idea to start these checks sooner, as family history of cancer can increase your chances of being diagnosed as well.
3. Find a doctor: The importance of finding the right doctor is crucial. Choose one you’re comfortable with, so you can openly discuss all aspects of your health, from your mental state to your sexual function to your overall wellness.
4. Be informed: You want to be knowledgeable and understand that you shouldn’t ignore symptoms or complaints, but you also shouldn’t self-diagnose.
5. Eat well: Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet is extremely important to your overall health. Good nutrition is probably the second most beneficial thing for your health besides adequate sleep. Healthy eating keeps our body’s metabolism functioning the way it should. Focus on nutrients rather than calories, and eat a variety of healthy foods.
6. Get enough rest: Getting enough sleep is the best thing you can do for your body. Sleep rejuvenates your body and mind. Getting at least 7 hours of sleep will do wonders for your overall health.
7. Check your mental health: Mental health is extremely important. Are you drinking too much? Are you paying attention to signs of depression or bipolar disorder, which often get missed? If you have a family history of mental illness, suicide, and/or substance abuse, you need someone to help you review the signs and symptoms.
8. Care for your prostate: As a man ages, the prostate grows. If not properly screened, you may overlook early symptoms of prostate cancer such as urinary problems. Get checked as soon as possible; don’t wait for symptoms to arise.
9. Do relaxing activities: For most people with a job and/or family, finding time for yourself can be difficult. But doing something for yourself every day, whether it’s going for a run or reading a book or practicing meditation or yoga, can hugely benefit your mental health and stress level.
10. Drink in moderation: Some studies have shown that moderate drinking (one to two standard size drinks per day) reduces the risk of coronary artery disease, the number one cause of death in the US. However, excessive drinking is a major cause of both physical disease and social tragedy. Drink in moderation.
For more information on Men’s Health Week visit www.menshealthmonth.org. For a routine health screening, call Intercoastal Medical Group to make an appointment with one of our primary care physicians or specialists, or request one online.