In the month that we celebrate Father’s Day, it is only fitting that we also focus on National Men’s Health Month. While in October, we seem to float in a sea of pink as we raise awareness and research funds for breast cancer, health concerns that primarily target men are less commonly acknowledged. Perhaps this lack of awareness plays a role in the fact that women are 100 percent more likely than men to visit a doctor and live an average of five years longer.
Early detection and prevention along with a healthy lifestyle are key to longevity. Here are three areas of focus to help monitor and maintain your health.
Diet – You’ve heard that you are what you eat, and science has consistently backed it up. Diets that rely heavily on processed foods are fuel for conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. While your own dietary requirements may vary based on age, size, and health, a healthy diet will generally consist of lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. A daily multivitamin specifically designed for men’s health concerns can also help you take in the nutrients you need to help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Exercise – Exercise has proven the most beneficial action you can take for your health beyond diet. When you get up and moving regularly, you can help keep weight in check while also diminishing your risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers. If you don’t work out already, rest assured that you needn’t become a gym rat to reap some health benefits. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes or moderate aerobic activity per week (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity) along with strength training at least twice per week. Just with this level of activity, the risk of early mortality may be reduced by as much as 40 percent.
Physician Exams – Of course it is important to visit your doctor when you’re sick, but it is also vital to see them when you are well. Annual physicals are an important tool in the early detection and prevention of disease. For men in particular, there are several recommended screenings that should take place in a timely manner:
- Blood Pressure – While your doctor likely checks it at every appointment, it is important to monitor blood pressure with a screening every two years.
- Cholesterol – If you are over the age of 35, a cholesterol screening should be performed every five years.
- Colon Cancer – Colon cancer is among the most preventable forms of cancer. With early detection and polyp removal, the cure rate is in excess of 90 percent. Men over the age of 50 should be screened, but factors such as family history and race may require screening to begin earlier.
- Prostate Cancer – A prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test can help indicate the potential presence of prostate cancer. Although there are other factors which may contribute to elevated PSA levels as well. Discuss the usefulness of this test with your physician, which may be recommended earlier for African American men or those who have a family history.
There can be no greater champion for your health than you. Take the necessary steps outlined above to help ensure a long and vital life. Choose your foods wisely, exercise regularly, and visit your physician at regular intervals for all recommended health screenings. If you are in Zachary or the surrounding areas, take advantage of our own local resources and schedule an appointment with one of Lane’s trusted physician partners, such as :
Zachary Family Practice
2335 Church Street
Zachary, LA 70791