Men, when was the last time you went to the doctor? June is Men’s Health Month; a good time to remember that it is crucial to check your health early and often. Men are at risk for many of the same health problems as women, but often engage in behaviors that can increase their risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
What behaviors put men at higher risk?
• Women were three times more likely than men to see a doctor in the previous year.
• More than half of men in the United States have not had a physical or cholesterol test in the past year.
• Men are about 50% less likely to meet healthy fruit and vegetable eating goals every day.
• On average, men use more alcohol and tobacco than women.
• Men are less likely than women to seek help for mental health problems.
How can you prevent men’s health problems?
See your doctor regularly. You should have a yearly physical exam even if you feel healthy. Make sure your doctor checks your blood pressure, cholesterol and screens for colon and prostate cancer. Be sure to talk to your doctor about mental and emotional health, too.
Cut down on unhealthy behaviors. Alcohol and tobacco use can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and numerous other health conditions. Work with your doctor to put together a plan to limit alcohol use or quit smoking with the help of the smoking quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) or substance helpline (1-800-662-4357).
Eat healthy foods. A healthy diet can lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and many types of cancer. Try to control your portion size and incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet while limiting fat and sodium intake.
Get up and move. Regular exercise can help prevent chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and even depression and anxiety. Create a plan to make physical activity part of your daily or weekly schedule. A combination of cardiovascular activity such as walking, running, or biking and strength training with free weights or elastic bands for just 2 ½ hours a week can improve your health.
Make mental health a priority. Take time to do something that makes you happy every day. Get in the habit of practicing self-care techniques or connecting with friends to lower stress levels. Reach out for help from a professional through the Rock County Crisis Intervention Line at 608-757-5025 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Improve your sleep patterns. A lack of sleep can increase your risk of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and stroke. You should get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day, avoid large meals before bedtime, and remove electronic devices from your bedroom.
Men’s health issues are preventable. Remember to schedule regular check-ups with your doctor to man up on your health!
Michael Niles is a Health Educator for the Rock County Public Health Department. If you would like to ask a health-related question to be answered in a future column, email RCHealthDept@co.rock.wi.us with Healthful Hint in the subject. The Rock County Public Health Department reserves the right not to answer any questions deemed unsuitable. For more information follow us on social media @rockcountyPHD.