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Op-Ed: Men: Take charge of your health this summer


 
Dr. Joseph Webb

Gentleman, when was the last time you visited the doctor? For many men, the answer to this question is likely somewhere between, "Not recently" and "I can't remember." The unfortunate reality in our nation is that too many men are neglecting their health. They manage most days to find time for family, work, friends, and community, but often ignore their own wellbeing.

They end up paying for it, too. Men in the United States live five years less than women, with an average life expectancy of 76 compared to 81 for females. Men also have higher rates of death from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and suicide. This might be because men are only half as likely as women to visit their physicians for preventive health support.

These alarming statistics show that men have got to do better at taking care of themselves - especially if they want to be around to care for others.

There's no better time to turn over a new and healthier leaf than the present because June is Men's Health Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness of men's health issues.

A man's health is his most valuable asset, and being proactive about protecting it could quite literally save your life. Don't know where to start? Here are a few ideas:

  • Make an appointment with your primary care physician for a check-up, especially if it's been a while since your last visit. Your doctor can give you an idea on your health status, suggest and perform recommended preventative screenings, and provide valuable perspective on your health challenges and changes you can make to lead a healthier life.
  • Know your numbers. Regular cholesterol, blood pressure, prostate cancer and other screenings can go a long way to keeping your health in check. Keeping track of your A1C levels is a good idea, too, especially if you have a family history of diabetes. When caught early on, many health conditions are very responsive to treatment, either through medication or lifestyle changes. See a doctor and get screened this summer.
  • Snack smart. Take advantage of the fresh fruits and vegetables available this summer to eat a few more greens. Swap out your daily snack for a healthier option, perhaps apple and peanut butter or a protein-packed granola bar. Pause to gauge whether you are still hungry before going back for seconds. It doesn't have to be much, but little daily changes in your diet will start to add up and improve your overall health.
  • Get According to the CDC, just over 50 percent of men 18 and older met the federal physical activity guidelines last year. Did you? The 2008 guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, for adults. Ideally, this is done in at least increments of 10 minutes, and spread out over the week. Think about ways to fit a little more movement into your life - taking a quick walk on your lunch break or after dinner instead of heading to the couch, or even just taking the stairs more often.
  • Mind your mental health. Even if we do eventually make it to the doctor to care for an ache or pain, discussing mental health concerns can feel like an even harder boundary to cross. But your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so if you are feeling overworked, overwhelmed, or anything else, don't be afraid to speak up. There's lots you can do on your own - including taking the time to eat the right foods, exercise, get enough sleep, trying yoga or mediation - to take care of your mental health, but don't feel like you need to do it on your own.

Let's make June an annual reminder to see your primary care physician and take charge of your health. Don't have a primary care doctor? The team at Nashville Healthcare Center would be glad to see you and help get you on the track to better health. Just give us a call at 615.341.4968

 
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