Take Time to Focus on Men's Health

June 14, 2016

Women, on average, live almost six years longer than men. In fact, men die at higher rates than women from the top 10 causes of death including heart disease, stroke, cancer and suicide, according to the Men’s Health Network.

While there are many factors that contribute to these disparities, one important and preventable contributor is awareness. Research shows that men are less aware of their overall health than women.

In an effort to “level the playing field,” so to speak, we observe Men’s Health Month nationally every June. With Father’s Day coming up, many of us are already thinking about the special men in our lives, and it is the perfect time to encourage them to schedule health screenings, discuss their health with loved ones, and begin healthy lifestyle changes.

There are several things men can do to begin a healthier life this June:

Get regular check-ups: Many men do not see their physicians for annual check-ups because they do not have any health concerns or troubling symptoms. However, many medical conditions common in men may not have obvious symptoms, and regular check-ups can help flag any issues before they become a problem.

Visiting a physician regularly also ensures that men receive recommended health screenings including checks of weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels.  Electrocardiogram screens, prostate specific antigen (PSA) and hemoccult tests, and colonoscopies are other tests physicians recommend men regularly receive as they age.  Men should talk to their physicians about what tests are right for them. 

In addition to in-office health screenings, all men 20 years of age and older should perform skin, oral and testicle self-exams each year.

Start an exercise routine: The numerous benefits of exercise include longer life expectancy; lower risk for many common health issues; healthier muscles, bones and joints; better work performance; better mental health and more energy. A man’s body needs three types of exercise at least three times a week:

  1. resistance training to strengthen and tone muscles;
  2. stretching to enhance flexibility, balance and coordination; and
  3. aerobic exercise to improve heart and lung health.

Eat a healthy diet: A balanced diet leads to optimum performance and health. Men should make an effort to eat fruits and vegetables as their primary sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber and limit foods and drinks that are high in calories, sugar, salt, fat and alcohol. A hearty, healthy breakfast is a great building block for a day’s nutrition. 

Get enough sleep: Sleep deprivation is associated with medical conditions including heart disease, diabetes and depression, and can lead to motor vehicle and workplace accidents. Men typically need between 7-9 hours of sleep each day.

Maintain good work/life balance: A man’s mental well-being directly affects all aspects of his physical health.  Men must strive to create a healthy work/life balance by determining their priorities and effectively managing stress.

More information about men’s health issues and Men’s Health Month can be found at www.menshealthmonth.org. For more information about Wilson Medical Center, visit www.wilsonmedical.com.

Laura Lowe, RN, DNP, MHA is the chief nursing officer at Wilson Medical Center