Do you think there aren’t health disparities between men and women? Think again!
Men die five years younger than women, on average, and at higher rates due to nine of the top ten causes of death according to the CDC. Men are the majority of workplace injuries, less likely to be insured, and are less likely to visit their doctor for preventive checkups.
June celebrates Men’s Health Month, and this year marks the 24th anniversary of National Men’s Health Week, June 11th, Father’s Day, through June 17th.
Scotland County Health Department and organizations across the country want to empower and educate the public about the many preventable health problems that affect men, boys and their families in moving towards a healthier life. We want to encourage our fellas to make their health a priority by taking action to be healthy, safe and learn the steps men can take every day to improve their health.
Taking action pays off. It’s important to make healthy lifestyle choices such as healthy eating, staying hydrated and being active, but it’s also as important to manage risky behaviors such as smoking, dipping, drinking too much, or engaging in casual sex. Of course, common sense precautions such as using safety ladders, wearing seat belts, and not texting while driving count too.
Here are six tips to consider when thinking about health:
1. Get Good Sleep – Adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep. Not getting enough sleep is associated with several chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, heart health, obesity and depression. Poor sleep is also responsible for motor vehicle and machinery-related accidents.
2. Toss out the Tobacco – It’s NEVER too late to quit! Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits. It improves your health and lowers your risk of heart disease, cancer, lung disease and other smoking-related illnesses. It’s important to avoid second-hand smoke too. Breathing in other’s people’s smoke causes health problems similar to those that smokers have. The poisons in second-hand smoke hurt babies and kids more than adults as they are still growing and vulnerable.
3. Move More – Adults need at least 2 ½ hours of moderate intensity aerobic activity every week and muscle strengthening that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) on two or more days a week. You don’t have to do it all at once – spread out activities during the week. You can do it!
4. Eat Healthy – Fruits and vegetables have a lot of vitamins and minerals that can help protect you from chronic diseases. So eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. It’s also important to cut out or limit foods that are high in sugar, salt, fat and alcohol.
5. Tame the Stress – Sometimes stress can be good, however, stress can be harmful when it is severe enough to make you feel overwhelmed or out of control. Take care of yourself. Avoid drugs and alcohol. Find support. Connect socially. Stay active.
6. Stay on Top of Your Game – See your doctor or nurse for checkups. Some diseases or conditions may not have symptoms, so checkups or screenings help identify health issues early before they can become a real problem. However, it is important to pay attention to signs and symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, excessive thirst and problems with urination. Should you have any of these symptoms of any kind, be sure to see your doctor or nurse. Don’t wait!
Learning about and understanding health risks is one thing. Taking action to reduce your risk is another. Be sure to get health screenings, and learn about how often those screenings are needed. Keep track of your numbers for blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, your body mass index (BMI) and understand what those numbers mean.
If your numbers are high or low, your doctor or nurse can explain what they mean and let you know how you can get those numbers into a healthier range.
Something else to consider are vaccinations! Everyone needs immunizations to stay healthy, no matter how old you are. Even if you’ve had vaccines as a child, your immunity can fade over time. Vaccine recommendations are based on a variety of factors including age, overall health and your medical history.
While many men are diligent about their physical well-being, many are not. Be good to yourself. Eat right. Exercise daily. Visit the doctor. Stay healthy. Stay strong! That’s Public Health!
For more information on Men’s Health, there are several websites available such as www.ahrq.gov/healthymen; www.healthfinder.gov; www.cdc.gov/men/nmhw/index.htm; visit www.MensHealthResourceCenter.org. Or, contact Kathie Cox, Health Educator II/PIO, Scotland County Health Department, at (910) 277-2470, Ext. 4478, for more information on resources, programs available, or for presentation requests.
Kathie Cox is a health educator and public information officer at the Scotland County Health Department. Reach her at 910-277-2470, ext. 4478.