June is Men’s Health Month and we want to take this opportunity to focus on some healthy habits we can integrate into our health maintenance strategies. Being a responsible man means more than just taking out the trash or going to work, it’s also about taking care of ourselves so we can be there for those around us. Healthy men take deliberate steps to keep themselves that way. There’s no better time to act and take positive steps in your wellness journey than the present. Whether this applies to you directly, or to the men in your circle of influence, here are five things men should do for general wellness.
1. Preventative Health Screenings
Knowledge is power. Unfortunately, too many of us believe that ignorance is bliss. Knowing our health numbers is key to our overall wellness and health. We wouldn’t drive a car without working gauges or a faulty instrument panel. Think of preventative health screenings the same way. They inform us of what’s going on with our bodies. Beginning with regular blood pressure and cholesterol screenings for men in their 20’s and 30’s and continuing to diabetes, colon, and prostate screenings for men in their 40’s and 50’s, preventative screenings save lives. Talk to your doctor about what health screenings should be on your radar.
2. Dealing With Stress
Work. Relationships. Kids. Finances. Traffic. It seems the stress can really mount up. It’s been proven that stress can negatively affect health. Stress decreases the immune system’s ability to fight off sickness, can cause us to hold on to unwanted weight, and can even exacerbate certain chronic conditions. Given all that stress can do, it is important to have a predetermined battle plan for combating stress. Find a positive outlet, such as physical activity or a new hobby to help channel stress. Take time away from life’s stressors, if necessary, to give a mental break and refocus the mind. Finally, consider talking to a professional. Mental health maintenance is just as important as physical health maintenance.
3. Physical Activity
As we get older, it’s increasingly important that we stay active. And while getting on the golf course as often as possible is a great start, its recommended we get 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. We should find physical activities that we enjoy doing and make sure it gets our heart rate going and we break a sweat. Staying physically active also helps to fight off conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. The more energy we put into a physically active lifestyle, the more we get out of it.
4. Proper Nutrition
There’s never a bad time to start making the right food choices. Good nutrition isn’t a fad diet or something we do to shed a few pounds; it is a lifestyle. We can start living a lifestyle inclusive of proper nutrition by making smart changes to our everyday eating habits. Start bringing your lunch instead of eating out, substitute water for soda, and cut back on snacking. In addition to lowering the risk of diabetes and other chronic conditions, proper nutrition can lead to a boost in energy needed for an active lifestyle. Start taking steps to make healthy eating a part of your lifestyle today.
5. Give Back
Helping affect positive change in the lives of others is a great sign of living well. Whether it’s volunteering with the community, mentoring younger men, or spending quality time with those in your circle, it’s important to find ways to give back. No man is an island. We all have something we can share with others and giving that something to someone in need can make a huge difference; in their life and ours.
Wellness is a journey, not a destination. Start taking the right steps in the direction of good health and wellness this Men’s Health Month.
Sean C. Small, MPH, CHES®
Sr. Public Health Educator
City of Houston Human Resources Dept. | Health &Wellness