Men's Health Month encourages taking charge of your health
By Matt Cimino
Encouragement is a large goal of this month, as men nationwide sometimes experience uncertainty when it comes to some specific health issues. Approximately 30,000 men die each year from prostate cancer. It is the most common cancer in men, but can be treated more effectively if detected early. Screenings and prostate health exams may seem invasive, but in reality, they are an important step toward maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
There is also the idea that men who regularly visit their doctors are weak. The attitude of “it’s nothing” or “I’ll get over it” not only takes away from your quality of life, but can possibly cost you your life. It is important to talk to your doctor or health care provider for any health concerns you may have.
The Men’s Health Network, which sponsors Men’s Health Month, reports that on average, men die five years younger than women. Most of the factors that contribute to their shorter lifespans are preventable. On top of regular visits to the doctor, Men’s Health Month also encourages physical activity. There are countless benefits to getting active. Maintaining proper levels of exercise can greatly reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and many other health issues.
Starting simple is a great way to build motivation to work out. From daily walks to basic calisthenics, every little bit can add up to something significant. By staying on a routine and working hard, you may find yourself running laps around the block in no time… or maybe just walking for long durations and more often.
A silent epidemic continues to affect boys and men worldwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Center for Health, men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women. Similar to visiting the doctor, the belief that men just have to deal with problems themselves also causes long-term damage. Let the men in your life know that it is OK to talk about how they feel. The conversation surrounding mental health is weak, especially in men. You can make the difference by being open to help, or by reaching out to help others.
Of course, COVID-19 has made some of these healthier choices more difficult. But physicians are starting to see patients for routine checkups and regular health screens again. And there are several ways to exercise even without access to a gym: walks or runs outside are great. There also has never been a better time to work out inside, with a large quantity of free YouTube content geared to a variety of ways to exercise. Check it out; there’s probably something that’s a great fit for you. It also can help relieve anxiety if current events are stressing you out.
This June, remember the important role men play in our lives. Let them know that it is okay to discuss and act on their health. Take part in Wear Blue Friday, which recognizes both Men’s Health Month and prostate cancer awareness.
The U.S. Health and Human Services' Office of Minority Health will also be observing Wear Blue Day. In addition to prostate cancer and the other health risks, another disease some men must deal with is sickle cell anemia, which, in the United States, affects mostly individuals of sub-Saharan African descent. The illness, which usually develops during infanthood or childhood, can lead to a variety of complications, including vision loss, leg ulcers and stroke. Sickle cell anemia can be monitored and treated, usually with blood transfusions.
Most importantly, for the men reading this, take care of yourselves! You work hard to make sure your family has what they need, but part of what they need is you. Get physically active and regularly visit a doctor or healthcare provider. Take this month to reevaluate your actions, so that you can be there for them for many years to come.