Although last month was Men’s Health Month, there’s no better time like the present to check in on your physical health. No matter your age or activity level, it’s important to regularly visit your primary care doctor and alert them of any concerns. Having these conversations with your doctor will allow them to detect patterns that may be associated with a serious illness, and it will give them the opportunity to provide potential treatment if needed. After a year of uncertainty and the pandemic motivating individuals to take their health more seriously, make this summer a time to put your health first, and encourage the other men in your life to do so as well by taking note of the following three tips.
1. Preventative Care
Compared to women, men are less likely to seek professional health care advice when they suspect something may be wrong with their health. Generally speaking, if a serious problem or risk can be identified early on, the easier it will be to have a preventative plan set in action.
The following are some of the most common health issues men face in their lifetimes:
More men than women over the age of 49 develop the serious form of skin cancer known as melanoma. This is broadly connected to the fact that men tend to be less careful about extended exposure to the sun, and are less likely to check their skin thoroughly or visit a dermatologist for a full body skin cancer screening.
July is UV Safety Awareness Month, so it’s the perfect time to assess your risk and take the proper preventative steps to decrease the likelihood of developing any type of skin cancer. Remember, it’s always important to use sunscreen and you should always take precautions such as wearing a baseball cap to shield your head and face from the sun.
Second, to melanoma, men are at high risk for developing prostate cancer. According to the CDC, for every 100 American men, 13 will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. A few factors that will help you determine your risk-level include family history, race, and age. Alan J. Wieder, MD of Fidelis Care notes that African-American men, specifically, are at a higher-risk of getting prostate cancer, and that if you have a family history of the cancer your risk also increases. Additionally, because prostate cancer is commonly found in men over the age of 50, it is important for men that age and older to determine their risk level through routine doctor’s visits.
With that said, Doctors don’t always recommend the screenings if you don’t have symptoms or if you don’t fall into any of the above risk categories. Some symptoms to keep an eye out for include pain or discomfort while urinating, pain in the back/hips/pelvis that won’t go away, and bloody urine.
Physical, emotional, and psychological factors can all impact the risk of heart disease. Stress and anxiety have a tendency to raise blood pressure, while the food you eat, and your level of activity tend to directly affect cholesterol. If not monitored closely, your cholesterol and blood pressure levels could lead to a broad selection of cardiovascular diseases including but not limited to, heart attacks, coronary artery disease, and strokes.
Age is one of the highest risk factors for heart disease. Due to this, it’s important to set up more frequent visits to your doctor for the purpose of getting your blood and cholesterol levels checked. If you feel like you may be experiencing any relevant signs of heart disease; shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness/light headedness, and excessive tiredness and fatigue, see your doctor immediately.
A more active lifestyle can decrease your risk of cardiovascular problems later on in life. We know that not everyone has the time and resources to hire a personal trainer, or hit the gym five times a week, but it’s important to understand even the smallest ways you can keep your heart healthy and happy.
The CDC recommends that anyone over the age of 18 should get at least 150 minutes a week of physical activity, along with doing strength-training exercises at least 2 days a week. This could be going for a short jog once a day, or even just going for a brisk walk on your lunch break or after work. You really don’t need to obtain a fancy gym membership to get in a quick strength-training workout, either just invest in a yoga mat and use the space in your home or apartment. If you need some inspiration, check out our guide on getting a full body workout from home.
3. Diet and Healthy Eating
Even if you consider yourself to be a “fit” individual, the food and beverages you consume day-to-day will have a strong impact on your health over time. Being aware of the good and bad things going into your body will also help to prevent the development of diseases like obesity.
Foods and beverages to avoid, or consume in moderation, include:
Refined grains: white bread, white rice, and pasta
Red meat: beef, pork, lamb and processed meats like bacon and sausage
Fast food: anything that’s deep-fried is most likely going to contribute to increased levels of cholesterol
Alcohol: While it’s okay to have a beer, glass of wine, or a cocktail on the occasion, alcoholic beverages tend to have a high sugar and carb content — excessive consumption can also lead to liver and kidney damage.
Foods you should incorporate more of include:
Whole grains: oats, quinoa, and anything made with whole wheat.
Non-starchy vegetables: green beans, carrots, and leafy greens— the more color, the better!
Fruits: bananas, berries, and apples are all good options to give you a daily boost of vitamins and antioxidants.
Protein-dense foods: chicken, fish, and nuts all tend to provide more nutrients than red meats, plus certain types of fish and nuts give you a healthy dose of the fats you do need in your diet.
Remember to set up that appointment with your doctor and get proactive about your health for a better today and a healthier future. If you’re looking for more online resources, be sure to check out online resources that provide credible information on health topics like the CDC, or even a health insurance provider like Fidelis Care.