Healthy Living

National Men's Health Week: Dad's Health Is A Family Matter

men Exercising
National Men's Health Week encourages men to both recognize and address potential health problems. Creative Commons

The purpose of National Men's Health Week is to raise awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease. National Men's Health Week was first recognized by Congress in 1994 and has been celebrated around the globe since 2002.

"Recognizing and preventing men's health problems is not just a man's issue," said Congressman Bill Richardson upon the occasion's inauguration. "Because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, men's health is truly a family issue."

Men's Health Week is celebrated the week before Father's Day: June 10-16, this year.

Additionally, this week gives health care providers, public policy makers, and the media an opportunity to encourage men to find new ways to celebrate their health. Go for a bike ride. Toss a ball. Eat less salt. Try a new vegetable. There are so many easy ways a man can improve his health each day. Why not encourage the men you love to take better care of themselves?

Eat Better

Every day it is recommended that you eat five to ten servings of fruits and vegetables. Not only are vegetables and fruits sources of vitamins, minerals, and other natural substances, but they also taste great. Foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol are destructive to your body and end up making you feel badly, after an initial rush of satisfaction. Choose healthy snacks.

Check Your Numbers

Keep track of your blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, and body mass index (BMI). Get an electrocardiogram (EKG), which is a test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart. If any of your numbers are too high or too low, ask your doctor or nurse practitioner to explain what they mean and suggest how you can move them into a healthier range. Be sure to also ask what other tests might help you understand your health and how often you need them. Heart disease is one of the biggest risks for men and simple in-office procedures can give you insight into your heart.

Be Active As Much As Possible

At the very least, an adult needs at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as brisk walking) every week. An adult also requires muscle strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms) on two or more days a week. Spread your activity out during the week, and break it into smaller chunks of time during the day, in order to get the necessary amount of exercise.

De-Stress

A small amount of stress is necessary, beneficial even. However, when stress becomes severe enough to make you feel overwhelmed and out of control, when it is enough to make you feel you "need" a drink, it's harmful. Take care of yourself by connecting socially. Join an intramural sport. Jog in the park. Do something active to unwind.

Pay Attention

Listen to your body and pay attention to signs and symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, excessive thirst, and problems with urination. If you have these or symptoms of any kind, be sure to see your doctor right away. Don't wait!

Are Your Vaccinations Up to Date?

Even if you had vaccines as a child, immunity can fade with time. Vaccine recommendations are based on a variety of factors, including age, overall health, and your medical history. Vaccines can protect you from illnesses and diseases such as influenza, shingles, and pneumococcal disease. The Tdap shot protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whopping cough). Other vaccinations protect against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, chickenpox (varicella), measles, mumps, and rubella. Ask your provider which ones are right for you.

Snuff Out the Cigarettes

Quitting smoking has immediate benefits. You will feel your lungs begin to clear right away and gradually your airways will improve as your risk of heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and other smoking-related illnesses gradually recede. Inhaling other people's smoke causes health problems, so take care to avoid second hand smoke as well. It's never too late to lose the butts.

Sleep Tight 

As we age, our need for sleep changes. In general, adults require between seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Sleeping less than what is sufficient is unhealthy. Poor sleep is associated with chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. Insufficient sleep is also responsible for car crashes and machinery-related accidents, causing injury and disability each year.

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