The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that men are as much as 80 percent less likely to see a physician for regular check-ups and screenings than women are.
What better month than June – home to Father’s Day and National Men’s Health Month – to talk about some important ways men can make their health a bigger priority.
Stacy Olliff, MD, MPH, a physician with Eagles Landing Family Practice, reminds men that not only should their health be a priority, but it is their responsibility.
“Whether it’s taking care of our families, helping our neighbors, or being an asset on the job, men tend to feel a responsibility in many areas of life,” Olliff said. “But if you’re not taking care of your body and looking out for your overall health, you’re putting all of those other areas at risk.”
Olliff offered some ideas for how men can take responsibility for their health and put a priority on their futures – during Men’s Health Month and beyond.
Get recommended check-ups
In many cases, annual and age-appropriate screenings are completely covered by insurance. Knowing your numbers such as blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and BMI can help identify potential problems early before they morph into full-blown issues. Regular check-ups and vaccinations are quick and effective ways to stay in charge of your health.
According to the CDC’s “2008 Physical Guidelines for Americans,” adults need two types of physical activity each week to improve their health – aerobic and muscle-strengthening. Recommendations include 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (brisk walking, riding a bike on flat terrain) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (running, swimming laps) and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms). And you don’t have to do it all at once. Breaking up activity into 10-minute increments can provide health benefits.
Improve your diet
Incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables into your daily diet to get the vitamin and mineral effects that can protect you from chronic diseases. Watch your fat, calorie, sugar, and salt intake. Whole grains and fiber are not only better for you, they’ll help you feel fuller, faster. Stay hydrated by drinking water, not calorie-dense beverages, and limit your alcohol consumption.
Get your rest
It’s easy to adhere to the “sleep is overrated” maxim in our busy lives, but its health benefits can’t be overstated. Recommendations say adults should get seven to nine hours of quality shut-eye each night. Insufficient sleep is associated with chronic diseases and conditions such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression, not to mention you’re more likely to be in a bad mood, less productive at work, and involved in a motor vehicle crash.
Be an example
Whether you notice or not, the younger generation is watching. By practicing healthy habits such as consuming a balanced diet instead of junk food and going for a hike instead of vegging out on the couch, you can be an example for your kids, grandkids, and others.