June is National Men’s Health Awareness Month. This month is dedicated to bringing awareness to the health issues that disproportionately impact men, as well as the ways in which men can take action to prevent health problems and improve their overall wellness and quality of life. Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of men in the U.S., and men on average develop heart disease a decade earlier than women? Men are also at a higher risk for developing melanoma and other skin cancers, as well as pancreatic cancer. Men lead the death rate for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and suicide. These facts can sound scary, but the good news is that by taking preventative action men can reduce their chances of developing preventable health problems. Here are some steps men can take this month to take action toward protecting their health.
Stay on Top of Preventative Care
Men are statistically less likely than women to have health insurance and seek regular preventative medical care. Having access to health insurance and seeking regular preventative care can significantly decrease the likelihood of developing preventable health problems. If you haven’t had a check up in the past year, contact your Primary Care Physician for a physical exam. Yearly physicals include screening that can help to detect early signs of illness or disease before you begin experiencing symptoms. Early intervention is key, and can prevent serious health problems from developing.
Exercise is one of the most effective ways that we can prevent illness and disease. Just 30 minutes of exercise (which includes walking) is recommended by physicians and leads to overall healthier outcomes for men and women. If you’ve never been active before, it is ok to start off slow. Making small changes like choosing a parking spot that is further away, or taking the stairs rather than an elevator, can help you to gradually increase your activity level. And the great thing about being active is that it is rewarding to our brains. If we can get our body moving long enough to elevate our heart rate, we will be rewarded with endorphins and feel good chemicals that will make it a little bit easier to get motivated the next time. Still struggling to get active? You don’t have to do it alone! Working with a personal trainer or taking a semi-private group fitness class might be the accountability and support you need to establish a routine.
Food For Thought
The food that we put into our bodies can help us to combat some preventable illnesses and diseases. A balanced diet that contains vitamins, minerals and other nutrients can help to lower blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol and decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease, types 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Listening to your body's cues for fullness or hunger, and eating a well rounded, balanced diet can help you to get your nutrition back on track. Not sure where to begin when it comes to your nutrition, or have a poor relationship with food that you’re struggling to work through on your own? A licensed nutritionist can help to provide individualized support for your unique nutrition goals. Many insurance plans cover this service at 100% under preventative care because they understand the importance of nutrition in reducing illness and disease.
Mental Health Matters Too
This month is not just about raising awareness for the physical health problems impacting men's health, but psychological health as well. Men are more likely than women to complete suicide, and due to social stigmas are less likely to seek out support for their mental health. Our culture has sent damaging messages to men for far too long about how they should “man up”, encouraging men to hold in their emotions rather than expressing them or asking for help. It’s time we end the stigma, and recognize that both men and women are susceptible to mental illness and are deserving of support. If you’re feeling unsure of how to begin taking your mental health into your own hands, take a look at our last blog post outlining our steps to help you find the right therapist for you.
We hope that after reading this, you are considering taking some steps to take your wellness into your own hands. If you are a man who is used to taking care of all of the people around you, take this month to prioritize yourself and get your health back on track. Struggling to do it on your own? Our team of multidisciplinary providers here at Mind and Body is here to help. Email, call, or simply click here to set up a clinical consultation with Clinical Director/Owner, Susann Navarra, LCSW so we can help you get connected with the support you need. You can also sign up for our semi-private fitness classes by clicking here.