This week is Men’s Health Week, a week specifically focused on raising awareness for men’s health issues. I have no idea who designates these awareness weeks, but think this one can do some real good. Most men assume they will be fine, that if they don’t think about health issues none will come their way. As the mantra goes, “I’ll be fine. Don’t worry.” But one in seven men are diagnosed with prostrate cancer, live an average of five years less than women, and visit their physician half as often as they should. Most of us just aren’t aware of our particular health risks and what we can do to prevent them.
Here’s some quick facts:
Only 30% of your health is determined by genetics. The rest is in your hands. So what can you do? According to the Center for Disease Control, there are a few simple things you can change today that will lead to a healthier tomorrow.
1. Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night: insufficient sleep is associated with chronic diseases and conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression and is a leading cause of motor vehicle and workplace accidents.
2. Toss the tobacco: Quitting has both immediate and long term benefits. It improves your health and lowers your risk of heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and other smoking-related illnesses.
3. Move More: Even a moderate amount of exercise (2.5 hours a week) can greatly improve your energy level, mental health, and decrease the risk of a myriad of health problems. Find small way throughout the day to walk and get your blood pumping.
4. Eat healthy: Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Being aware of what you are putting in your body can decrease your risk of chronic diseases, help you lose weight, increase your probability of a longer life, and increase general well being.
5. Manage stress: Some stress can be good at work, but too much can erode your health. If you are stressed, avoid coping with drugs and alcohol. Find support no matter how “manageable” your situation may be. If you are having trouble, tell someone rather than trying to manage it alone. Carve out time for rest, social gatherings and family.
6. Know yourself: Be aware of your particular risks. Get an annual checkup and manage your blood pressure and cholesterol. Stay up to date with vaccinations and pay attention to signs and symptoms like chest pain, trouble using the restroom, shortness of breath, or excessive thirst.