Next Sunday, June 19th, we as a nation take time to celebrate fathers and show them love. It makes sense then, that June is also National Men’s Health Month – a month set aside for our nation to raise awareness for men’s health issues and encourage a healthier lifestyle among all men, including fathers.
There are many health areas that men struggle with or have a higher tendency to struggle with than women, and vice versa (see blog on National Women’s Health Week). It’s important to understand what those areas are and how to raise awareness for them this month so that you and those you know can take steps to improve your health and well-being.
According to HealthFinder.gov, “Compared to women, men are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, make unhealthy or risky choices, [and] put off regular checkups and medical care.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 12.2% of men 18 years and older are in “fair or poor health”, 31.4% of men 18 years and older had “5 or more drinks in 1 day at least once in the past year”, and 18.9% of men 18 years and older “currently smoke cigarettes.”
Monitoring alcohol intake, eliminating tobacco, and visiting the doctor on a regular basis for check-ups and exams are essential keys to a healthy lifestyle. An online article from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality states that, “Men are 24 percent less likely than women to have visited a doctor within the past year and are 22 percent more likely to have neglected their cholesterol tests.” This is a serious concern as preventative medical tests are extremely important to avoid serious health issues.
As the same article from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality puts it, “When you get a preventative medical test, you’re not just doing it for yourself. You’re doing it for your family and loved ones.” Taking care of your health not only impacts you in a positive way, but also those around you.
Taking charge of your health and well-being comes in many shapes and forms, and sometimes it’s the small steps that go a long way! HealthFinder.gov has provided many different steps that men of all ages can take to improve their health, and recommend making “small changes every day” such as “take a walk instead of having a cigarette”, “try green salad instead of fries” and “drink water instead of soda or juice.”
Things like improving your diet, staying active, and visiting your doctor on a regular basis for check-ups and exams are three ways you can make significant changes to your health.
→ Eating lots of fruit and vegetables and maintaining a balanced diet that helps to lower your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol should be prioritized, especially as you age.
→ Exercising about 2.5 hours of “moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week” along with “muscle strengthening activities […] on two or more days a week” is recommended for adults, according to the CDC .
→ Talking about your health and getting screening tests to check for early onset of diseases can help to prevent serious long-term health issues. Healthfinder.gov recommends:
- “Getting blood pressure checked at least once every 2 years.”
- “Talk to your doctor about getting your cholesterol checked.”
- “Get tested for colorectal cancer if you are age 50 or older.”
- “If you are age 65 to 75 and have ever smoked, talk with your doctor about your risk for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)”
- “If you feel stressed, anxious, or depressed for more than 2 weeks, talk to your doctor about screening for depression.”
- “Talk to your doctor if you have questions about prostate cancer.”
Taking steps, however big or small, to improve your health can make a huge difference on the life you live. Consider this month how you might make a lifestyle change in recognition of National Men’s Safety Month to take charge of your health and well-being. Whether you’re a Grandfather, father, or son, improving your health is a great way to take care of yourself and those you love (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality).
If you or someone you know needs nutrition advice, diabetes prevention, or smoking cessation programs, the YMCA can help. Click on the links below to find out how the Y can help you on your journey to healthy living this year:
– Emily Sanville, Digital Communications Coordinator