June is Men’s Health Awareness Month and this summer, take the time to enjoy, kick-back, throw the ball around and fire up the barbecue. Worrying about your health can make life difficult to enjoy, so make sure that this summer, and every season, you are working to help prevent and lower your risk for disease and doing what is needed to stay fit and healthy.
Heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and type II diabetes are some of the leading causes of death and disability among American men today. Some men are at a higher risk because of diseases that may run in their families, but most men have an increased risk of disease due to poor lifestyle habits – sometimes it is a combination of both. Whatever the risks, most of them can be lowered by leading a healthy lifestyle. Live a long, active and healthy life by following these healthful and useful summertime (or anytime) tips to make positive changes happen and help them stick!
Turn your life into smoke free zones and stop smoking
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men and is mostly due to smoking. Smoking has many damaging effects on the immune system and on overall body function. Enlist the help and support of family and friends, as well as your medical doctor or clinician who can suggest ways to help you quit.
Exercise is essential for overall body function, weight management, lowering “bad” cholesterol, working the heart and the lungs, reducing stress and much more! Watching the game is great but getting in the game is even better! Arrange a weekly game with the guys to get you all out there exercising. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week – from a light jog around the block to sit-ups in the den to time spent at the gym, it all counts.
Change your eating habits
Avoid “bad” food including processed and refined foods, those with too much fat, sugar and salt. These foods suppress the immune system, leading to high blood pressure and abnormal blood fats, as well as unhealthy weight gain, and depressed overall body function – making you feel tired and sluggish. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish, and low-fat dairy is ideal. Eat light in every sense of the word – reduce portion sizes and eat lighter meals; like salads, soups, fruits, and vegetables and replace common comfort foods with some healthier options that are just as tasty and made just as fast (you’ll never know the difference!).
Healthy BBQ Menu Alternatives
■ Turkey burger instead of beef burgers
■ Whole grain instead of white buns
■ Veggie or 100% beef dogs instead of lower-grade OR poor-quality hot dogs
■ Baked sweet potato fries instead of conventional French fries
■ Grilled veggies like zucchini and asparagus instead of potato salad
■ Fresh green salad instead of coleslaw
■ Club soda, apple cider, iced tea or vegetable juice instead of soda
■ A non-alcoholic cocktail instead of alcohol
■ Lean chicken kabobs or fish instead of red-meat or sausages
Battle the bulge
Being overweight, especially more than 20 pounds, is now considered to be a major independent risk factor for disease. Belly fat is especially harmful to the body. Exercise, a balanced diet and a commitment to dropping those excess pounds are the only recipe you need for success. Stay away from alcohol, it is full of non-nutritious or “empty” calories, avoid the drive-thru, take the stairs, walk to work and find ways to exercise during the week – make it fun!
Relieve stress through activities
Stress and anxiety are red flags to watch out for: they increase blood pressure, depress the immune system and your body reacts to these feelings by secreting toxic chemicals. Left untreated, these can lead to depression. Today, suicide is one of the top ten causes of death among American men.
Depression can be an uncomfortable topic for anyone to discuss, but having open conversation with your spouse, friends, or medical doctor or clinician is important. Relieve stress by spending time doing the things you enjoy with the people you care about.
Partner with your doctor
Your doctor can suggest what screening tests are right for you, identify your risk for disease based on your current health and family medical history, and help you make a plan to get healthier. Take this fact sheet to your doctor’s office and discuss what screenings are right for you. Based on your age, your health, and your family medical history, your doctor will determine what tests are right for you and how often you should have them. Start a conversation with your doctor about the right screenings tests for you:
- Annual physical exam
- Monthly self-exam for testicular cancer and/or abnormalities
- Blood pressure
- Blood fats (LDL and HDL cholesterol and triglycerides)
- Prostate screenings
- Colorectal screenings
- Annual flu vaccine
- Overall skin exam
- Hearing tests
There are other dangers out there that you may not even realize can affect your health – and your life – in major ways. Men don’t often think about their health, but they often should; don’t wait until it’s too late to do something about it! Making small, positive lifestyle changes will ensure many healthy summer seasons to come with you in your best health and body ever.
If you or someone you know is in need of a Primary Care doctor, please call 812-222.DOCS to schedule your same day appointment today.