In 2019, a national survey of approximately 1,100 men aged 18 order older revealed that 72% of them would prefer to do household chores than go to see a doctor.
Even if it means cleaning the bathroom.
Though it’s a small sample, the results of the survey speak to a larger issue: Men of all ages are potentially compromising their health by avoiding annual visits to the doctor’s office. In honor of Men’s Health Month, here’s a list of things all men should do to stay physically and mentally well.
- Exercise regularly. Healthy adults should strive for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. Incorporate strength-training exercises for all major muscle groups at least twice a week. According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of regular exercise go beyond looking good: Physical activity helps increase testosterone levels, and lowers the risk of certain types of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
- Maintain a heart-healthy diet. Of course, heart health—along with health overall—begins and ends with a balanced diet. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States, second only to cancer. Build a healthy diet with five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day, and choose whole grain breads and cereals. Skip the sweets and saturated fats (most of the time), and keep an eye on your portion sizes. Remember that food is fuel, so being choosy in what you eat can influence the energy you have as you’re moving throughout the day.
- Take care of your mental health. The latest statistics from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention indicate men die by suicide 3.5 times more often than women, and rates are highest in middle-aged white men. The significant gender discrepancy may be linked to the stigma surrounding men and mental health, the idea that admitting to a problem may be a sign of weakness—even though it decidedly is not.
If you’re experiencing significant weight fluctuations, changes in your mood, ongoing and unexplainable physical problems like headaches or stomach aches, or are overwhelmed with feelings of sadness or hopelessness, seek help. Remember it’s a sign of strength to do so, and one of the many benefits of this technological world we live in is how quick and easy it is to access remote telehealth services.
- Don’t skimp on the cancer screenings. With any type of cancer, screenings are key to early detection. The American Cancer Society recommends men aged 50 and older receive annual colorectal and prostate cancer screenings. If you fall into a higher risk category (family history of the disease or certain racial groups), your doctor may recommend earlier and/or more frequent screenings. You should perform regular skin checks, and notify your provider if you discover any suspicious spots or moles that change in size, shape, or color.
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