June is Men’s Health Month
Why We Celebrate Men’s Health Awareness
June is Men’s Health Awareness month. The nationwide effort helps men prioritize their mental and physical health by encouraging a shift in lifestyle and the scheduling of preventative screenings to identify disease or illness.
The goal of Men’s Health Awareness month is to not only improve the lives of men individually but also give them the support they need to allow them to be healthier and more effective in the various roles they play throughout their lives. Being a great father, partner, brother, or friend is tough, but it’s much easier if you’re in good mental and physical health.
The Importance of A Healthy Lifestyle for Men
Research indicates that men have historically been the weaker sex when it comes to physical health.
While some of this is out of their control due to biological factors such as genetics, hormones, and metabolism, a large reason for their shorter life spans can be attributed to lifestyle factors.
Men, on average, live 5 years less than women do with the average lifespan in 2017 being 81 for women and 76 for men.
Lack of exercise and bad habits such as excessive drinking, substance abuse, obesity, and smoking are all contributing factors.
|Suffer from Obesity³||34.1%||27.5%|
Despite the stats, there’s hope. Poor lifestyle habits are reversible and highly likely to improve your longevity and quality of life if minimized.
The following tips will put you on track to improving your physical health:
- Quit smoking. For lifelong smokers, this can be a monumental task. If you’ve failed to stop in the past, consider creating a support system this time around that holds you accountable. Inform your family and friends that you are planning on quitting. Their encouragement when you’re struggling may be the catalyst you need to push through the difficulty. Equipping yourself with nicotine substitutes such as chewing gum may alleviate the symptoms you feel from the nicotine withdrawal. For a full list of helpful cessation tips, visit our quitting smoking blog.
- Limit your alcohol consumption. We live in a stressful world that makes it difficult to fully unwind at the end of our day. Reaching for a glass of wine or a few beers can provide the level of relief we seek but at a cost. Before deciding to limit your alcohol consumption, put a plan in place. Note how many alcoholic drinks you enjoy on a weekly basis and allow yourself to gradually reduce the number to 1 or 2 per day. This will take time but you will notice improvements in your physical health. Weight loss, improved sleep, and a healthier heart are all results of limiting alcohol consumption.
- Implement a practical weight loss plan. Usually, efforts to lose weight can seem impractical or overwhelming. Instead of implementing a full plan or hiring a personal trainer at the start, consider setting aside just one hour a day to engage in a physical activity you personally enjoy. This can include a walk around your favorite park or an activity such as tennis or basketball with a group of friends. Be practical with your goals and don’t set yourself up for failure by creating a plan you can’t adhere to. Start small and watch your goals get bigger with every week. Check out our practical weight loss blog for more tips.
These three tips are simple but difficult at the start. Give yourself the grace to fall in and out of these habits as your aim to improve your physical health. Every step forward counts for something.
Improving Men’s Mental Health
In a culture that encourages excessive hard work and the endless “hustle”, a conversation about stress can be seen as taboo or a sign of weakness. The fact is that chronic stress affects your whole body in more ways than you might know.
Studies have shown that extended periods of stress cause the hormone cortisol to remain in the body for an unhealthy amount of time, leading to anxiety, hypertension, heart attacks, and a less effective immune system. Getting sick more often than usual? Consider minimizing your stress levels.
Men have historically cared for their mental health at a lower rate than women. The stigma surrounding seeking help from a therapist can make a man feel emasculated or weak. The idea that men don’t experience difficulties with their mental health is a dated taboo that’s contributing to early deaths amongst men.
Consider the following tips to improve your mental health:
- See a therapist. This is a difficult step for many men as it requires them to be vulnerable and transparent about their lives. Despite that, weekly or monthly sessions with a qualified mental health professional can prove to be very cathartic. A therapist is equipped to interpret the difficulties you are experiencing and provide a plan that includes coping mechanisms and lifestyle changes. It takes time but the value is immense.
- Make more time for yourself. Work, family, friends, etc.—they’ll keep you busy enough to ignore what you truly enjoy. Pick a hobby and be deliberate about setting time aside to enjoy it. You’ll experience the reduction in stress that comes from engaging in an activity that truly rejuvenates and energizes you.
- Journal your thoughts. Bringing your thoughts out of your head and onto paper can be illuminating. You’re able to put into context any difficulties you’re experiencing, allowing you to truly see them for what they are. Doing so may help you realize some of the situations causing you stress are not as big as you thought.
Visit our stress blog for more actionable, practical tips to manage your stress.
Preventative Care Screenings for Men
Sometimes, no matter how much men put their physical and mental health first, disease unexpectedly strikes. This fact makes it important to routinely schedule health screenings with your healthcare provider in an effort to detect health issues before they become problematic.
Various health screenings should be conducted depending on your overall health but the following are recommended for men at the following stages of life:
- Testicular Self-Exam (TSE). A TSE should be performed periodically by men on their own bodies. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer amongst males aged 15-35 making it an important consideration. How-to resources can be found online that walk you through a quick self exam checking for unusual lumps.
- Skin Screening. Schedule an appointment to have your skin examined for any concerning moles or lesions that could become harmful.
- Prostate Screening. A prostate screening can include a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test or Digital Rectal Exam (DRE). Both will inform you of any abnormalities related to your prostate that may lead to prostate cancer.
- Colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a rectal exam performed to discover any abnormalities such as polyps or cancer that may be forming in the colon.
Check out our preventative care blog for a full list of recommended screenings.
- ¹lNIDA. 2021, April 12. Are there gender differences in tobacco smoking?. Retrieved from https://nida.nih.gov/publicati... on 2022, June 7
- ²White, A. M. (2020, October 29). Gender differences in the epidemiology of alcohol use and related harms in the United States. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Retrieved June 7, 2022, from https://arcr.niaaa.nih.gov/wom....
- ³U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Overweight & Obesity Statistics. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved June 7, 2022, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/heal...
Put Yourself First
This month, we want you to take care of yourself. Schneck is here to provide men with the care they need to continue living fulfilling, healthy lives. Schedule an appointment today with a primary care physician to discuss your health and get on the right track. Your friends and family will thank you.
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