Men’s Health Month is recognized every June to raise awareness about men’s healthcare and encourage males in our community to implement healthy lifestyles. It all starts with preventive care including annual physical exams, routine screenings, a nutritious diet, and daily physical activity. Statistically, men are less proactive about their healthcare than women. A survey conducted by The Cleveland Clinic showed that 40 percent of men only visit the doctor after a serious health issue arises and many rarely schedule routine checkups. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average life expectancy for U.S. men is about 5 years less than women, and 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
Here are five recommendations for men to help them stay on top of their game.
- Stay updated on your vaccines! Now that we are recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to be up-to-date on vaccinations. Your primary care provider (PCP) will help keep you on track as there are many that are recommended based on age. Not only do immunizations help you stay healthy, but they keep your body’s immune system functioning at its highest level. Vaccines are usually recommended at the time of your annual visit with your PCP.
- Do your screenings! Your PCP will do screening labs if you have certain risk factors, such as family history or weight changes. Screenings for diabetes, thyroid disease, liver issues, anemia, and cholesterol are part of the routine bloodwork often done at the doctor’s office. Men are typically given annual prostate exams at the age of 40. A colonoscopy is another recommendation to assess the risk for colon cancer by age 50 (or sooner if there is family history).
- Lower your stress! The male mentality often tends to avoid discussing their feelings and as a result, are less likely to disclose issues with their PCP that may result in cases of major depression/anxiety being undiagnosed. Stress itself is linked to higher blood pressure and body weight, so it’s important to take time to focus on activities that will help relieve stress.
- Watch your risky behaviors! Limiting alcohol consumption and not smoking are almost routinely advised by your PCP because they can result in liver disease, cirrhosis, and alcohol dependence. Smoking contributes to a wide variety of cancers and is one factor that is the most changeable. If you’re sexually active, it’s important to routinely be tested for sexually transmitted diseases and practice safe sex. It’s also important to avoid illicit drug or non-prescription medication use.
- Watch what you eat and exercise regularly! Eating large amounts of processed foods or foods with a high amount of sodium (salt) are main causes for obesity. Obesity is linked to increased occurrences of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and breathing issues. Focus on lean proteins and foods that provide good nutrition. Some examples include chicken, turkey, fish, Greek yogurt, beans, and lentils. Exercise goes a long way, so working out three to four times a week for about 30 minutes will help your body and your mind.
Members enrolled in the Foreign Service Benefit Plan have access to various wellness programs to help reach your physical and mental wellness goals. Learn about our programs here.