Living a healthy lifestyle is vital for good physical and mental health. How we feel on the inside and the outside are key for how much we enjoy life and how we treat others. When it comes to men’s health, men often ignore their own wellbeing and don’t prioritize taking care of themselves. Sometimes the results are serious and other times the consequences of not taking care of one’s self result in feeling bad—or less than your best—on a daily basis.
June is Men’s Health Month. The goal of this campaign, which began in 1992 and is hosted by Men’s Health Network, is to raise awareness about men’s and boy’s health issues. In addition, the early detection and treatment of various conditions and diseases in men and boys are encouraged.
Men’s life expectancy rates are less than those of women. And while this gap is closing, there are several health issues more common in men. The cause? Various factors can play into each person’s health risks and issues, however, high rates of both smoking and alcohol consumption coupled with a tendency not to seek help contribute to the age expectancy rate for men.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2020 the average life expectancy in the United States was 77.8 years, down from the prior year’s life expectancy age of 78.8 years. For men, the life expectancy rate in 2020 was 75.1 years and for women, 80.5 years.
If you are a man or have men in your life, it’s important to help spread awareness about some of the most common male health issues as well as tips to help men improve their health and wellbeing. In addition to helping more men and boys become aware of potential health issues, it’s also crucial to help men and boys develop healthier lifestyles and habits.
First, let’s take a look at some of the major health issues threatening men across the nation.
4 Major Health Issues for Men
1. Heart problems
One of the biggest health concerns for men is heart health. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), 2.8 million men have a stroke each year and one in three have some type of cardiovascular disease. Heart health for men has always been an area of concern. In addition, more and more young men are being diagnosed with hypertension at younger ages. Fortunately, there are steps men can take on a daily basis to help their heart health.
2. Lung disease
One way to help improve heart health is to avoid or stop smoking. Smoking contributes not only to heart issues but also to lung disease, another leading health issue for men. The American Lung Association reports that each year, more men are diagnosed with lung cancer. Stopping smoking today can help.
3. Alcohol abuse and misuse
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that men have higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and are hospitalized from alcohol-related issues than their female counterparts. This gap is narrowing, however, only because more women are consuming alcohol in excess, not because men are drinking less alcohol. Research also shows that alcohol consumption increases a man’s risk for mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon cancers.
4. Depression and suicide
Depression in men can look very different from depression in women. Men tend to experience fatigue and irritability with depression. For this reason, it’s vital to understand that men are suffering from depression at unprecedented rates—even if you don’t see it. Adding to the increased suicide rates is that men are reluctant to not only seek help but also to recognize depression in themselves. When it comes to suicide, although more women attempt suicide than men, men are more likely to die from suicide.
While the list may seem bleak at first, it’s important to realize that there are many ways to improve men’s health. Many of these ways are simple and easily adapted into one’s life.
5 Ways to Improve Men’s Health
Living an overall healthy lifestyle is vital for not only living longer but feeling good and enjoying life. Even if unhealthy habits are all you know, simple changes can go a long way to helping you look and feel your best.
Tip 1: Self-evaluation
Many times men believe if they ignore an issue with their health it will eventually go away. And while this sometimes does happen, in most cases it only gets worse. If you are interested in improving your health or concerned about a man in your life and their health, the first step is to take an honest appraisal of the current state of health.
Being honest about how you are feeling both physically and mentally is important. Do you have a knee that’s been aching but you keep pushing through? Did you pack on some extra weight during the pandemic? Do you feel stressed out a lot of the time?
Ask yourself (or the man in your life) how you are really feeling and answer honestly. Remember, many of the aches and pains of daily life can be eliminated or reduced with some simple tweaks to your lifestyle. For more serious issues, early detection allows for early treatment increasing rates of recovery. This holds true for mental health issues like depression and substance abuse as well.
Tip 2: Get Checked Out
After you take an honest appraisal of both physical and mental health, go in for a check-up. Even if you feel pretty good and your appraisal didn’t reveal any health concerns it’s vital to see your doctor regularly for check-ups. During these check-ups, your healthcare professional can help you understand what screenings are available and appropriate for your age group.
It’s important to understand that most big health issues began as minor health problems that were left untreated. Engaging in regular doctor’s visits, keeping on top of screenings, and reporting even minor health issues to your doctor all can help you stay healthy and avoid more serious health issues.
When it comes to mental health, it’s important to be aware of warning signs in this area too. If you are drinking more or feeling depressed more often, getting an evaluation from a professional is crucial.
Tip 3: Exercise
Getting active and moving is crucial for both mental and physical health. Often getting started is the most challenging part if you haven’t been active for a while or have never exercised. However, it’s vital to add regular exercise to your routine for improved health and wellbeing.
There are many benefits for both the mind and body when it comes to regular exercise. From feeling and looking good to higher energy levels there just isn’t a ‘downside’ to exercising. Here are some of the benefits research has found to be directly associated with exercise:
- Reduces risk of heart disease
- Lowers cholesterol
- Lowers blood pressure
- Lowers triglycerides
- Helps to control weight
- Lowers risk of diabetes
- Assists the body in managing blood sugar and insulin levels
- Supports quitting smoking and drinking
- Improves mental health and mood
- Keeps the mind sharp.
Steven Blair, Ph.D., professor of exercise epidemiology at the University of South Carolina and one of the country’s leading exercise scientists stated the following “(But) we’ve also come to understand that exercise can help prevent adult-onset diabetes, improve bone health, and even lower the risk of some cancers. Physical activity also appears to help ease depression for some people.”
And while exercise isn’t a cure-all for everything, it can certainly help to improve one’s current health as well as prevent future issues.
Tip 4: Diet
The word ‘diet’ has almost become one people dread to hear. However, the old adage, “You are what you eat” holds true today. Eating highly processed foods laden with sodium, preservatives, chemicals, sugars, and more can wreak havoc on the body. Not only does what you eat impact how you feel soon after you eat it but day after day of a poor diet can also impact your body and mood more than many people realize.
When it comes to improving your diet there are many ways to begin. However, keeping it simple helps you to stay committed to eating healthier. Once you add on a few good habits, you can build on those.
Consider cutting out fried foods, alcohol, processed foods, foods with high-fructose corn syrup, fatty foods, and other generally unhealthy foods. Try adding in more water, more fruits and veggies, and whole grains.
At first, it may seem like a daunting task depending on how your diet currently is. However, making simple changes can make a big difference. Today, there are healthy eating delivery services, healthier choices at the grocery store, and access to healthy recipes online. If you feel overwhelmed, pick one thing to add or take away and add to it after a week or so.
Tip 5: Spirituality and Connections
Spirituality is defined as being concerned with the human spirit or soul instead of material or physical things. When we are caught up in ‘keeping up with the Jones’ or getting to the top, we may miss some of life’s greatest blessings.
Having faith in something bigger and more powerful than one’s self is key to overall good health and wellbeing. Believing that the universe is inherently good and others in the world are also good is important for mental health and persevering during difficult times.
Whether you like organized religions or nature is your church, connecting with a power greater than yourself is key to a happy, fulfilled, and healthy life. In addition to spirituality, it’s important to form connections with others. Whether it’s family or friends, being connected and doing things you enjoy—on a regular basis—are vital to good overall health.
In recognition of Men’s Health Month consider adopting some of these tips for men’s health or encouraging the man in your life to incorporate them. When you are feeling your best physically and mentally, you can enjoy so much more that life has to offer. Take the first step today and start enjoying better health.
If you would like to learn more about alcohol or substance abuse treatment as well as mental health treatment options, contact Futures Recovery Healthcare today. Our evidence-based, compassionate treatment programs have supported others in getting healthy and recovering from both alcohol and substance abuse as well as other mental health issues. Call 866-804-2098