Even though Men’s Health Month was in June, we can always take steps towards a healthier lifestyle no matter what time of year it is. In general, men experience poorer health and die younger than women in the U.S., according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The points below are important for all of us, regardless of gender, but some issues disproportionately affect men and boys. Take a minute to check in with yourself on the following health recommendations.
Get regular check-ups. Men tend to be more likely to ignore symptoms and put off going to a medical provider than women. It is important that we go to the doctor for regular check-ups, as well as when something feels uncomfortable or painful. Men and boys die at higher rates from nine of the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S., with heart disease being the leading cause of death for men. Preventative maintenance can catch small problems before they become big ones, so make sure to stay on top of your health screenings.
Make healthy food choices. Along with seeing the doctor, men can reduce their chances of getting diseases by eating right and drinking plenty of water. Find out what your energy needs are based on your age, height, weight, age and physical activity level at USDA’s SuperTracker. Instead of eating food from restaurants or packaged foods, cook your own food as much as possible. This allows you to control ingredients that add calories and sodium, while giving you the option of including more nutritious foods, like vegetables and fruit. Keep plenty of healthy food on hand, especially items that takes little to no prep time. Check out USDA’s MyPlate for more nutrition information, tips and recipes!
Quit smoking and drinking alcohol. We all know that smoking tobacco can cause cancer, heart disease and strokes, so try to kick that habit as soon as possible. Drinking can also be detrimental to one’s health, though a small amount of alcohol will not impact your health. Keep it limited to two drinks per day.
Take care of your mental health. When life gets tough, don’t hesitate to talk things through with a mental health professional. Many of us will come up with excuses for not seeking help, but these sessions can be hugely beneficial and enlightening, even if you don’t think you necessarily need it. Pay attention to how much you are drinking and/or using other substances – these can often be relied on to cope with a deeper issue. Additionally, if there is a history of mental illness, suicide or substance abuse in your family, make sure you check in with a mental health provider to review signs and symptoms.
Get physical. Just thirty minutes of exercise can help you live longer and healthier – both physically and mentally. Invite your friends or family to join you in your physical activities to keep things fun and motivating. Your body gets comfortable when you do the same workout every day so make sure to vary your exercise routine by including a mix of aerobic, strength training and stretching. Maintaining a healthy weight takes pressure off the joints, therefore making it easier for your body to recover. Remember – healthy bodies bleed less!
Stay safe in the sack. While it can be difficult to have discussions about sexual health, it’s important not to communicate with your partner and your provider about any issues or concerns. Try to find a doctor that you’re comfortable with so you can openly discuss all aspects of your health. Check out HFA’s Men’s Sexual Health webinar here
Enjoy yourself. Lastly, look forward to doing something that you love every day. Whether it be going for a hike, reading a good book, practicing meditation or listening to your favorite album, make sure you carve out time for yourself. Don’t save all your fun for vacation – find ways to enjoy your life now!
 National Institutes of Health. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/womenshealth/conditioninfo/pages/howconditions.aspx
 Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/content.aspx?ID=10238&lvl=2&lvlid=12