Tips for Men’s Health Month
June means time for summer vacations and spending lots of time outdoors, which corresponds nicely to the fact that it’s also men’s health month. There’s no better time to recalibrate and make sure you’re doing all you can to feel your best. To help you celebrate and make the most of men’s health month, we’ve gathered some top tips to help you get and stay healthy. Little changes over time make a big difference, so no need to become a gym buff overnight; just start with some of these healthful changes to your routines.
1. Kick the Habit
The first and best thing you can do for yourself is quit smoking. Studies show that quitting smoking is the single most effective thing you can do to improve your health; the beneficial effects for your body start immediately. Stopping smoking lowers your risk of heart attack, stroke and lung cancer. And if you need motivation or support, talk with your doctor. There are methods and techniques available today to help you kick the habit.
2. Get in the Groove
Do some regular physical activity. Even a small amount of exercise goes a long way. Start easy and choose something that fits into your daily lifestyle, like taking a brisk walk every day, gardening, or even taking up a new activity like golfing, swimming or cycling. If you’re finding it hard to get started, get your significant other or a friend to join you.
3. Go Greek and Go Fish
The Greeks got it right with their Mediterranean diet, and so can you by consuming fresh vegetables, whole grains and—of course—fish. People who eat a Mediterranean diet are less likely to develop heart disease, certain cancers, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s in later life, so think about adopting parts of that diet into your own daily meals. Remember, good food doesn’t have to be bland or boring, so spice things up with new recipes, barbecuing salmon instead of steak, or using olive oil on foods instead of traditional dressings.
4. Cheers! … or Not
“Everything in moderation” is particularly true for alcohol intake. You don’t have to give it up completely, but drinking alcohol in moderation is the next best thing. Doctors recommend men should have no more than one drink a day, and should try to have at least two alcohol-free days a week. If this sounds tough, start small: Cut down on that one extra drink this week and gradually decrease until you are at the recommended level. You’ll feel better, and your body will thank you.
5. Watch Your Blood Sugar
In 2012, 86 million Americans had pre-diabetes, and most of them didn’t even know it. So, what is pre-diabetes and how do you know if you have it? Pre-diabetes means someone is on the verge of getting diabetes. How do you find out if you’re pre-diabetic? A trip to your family doctor to have your blood sugar checked is all you need to do. Finding out if you have pre-diabetes can be life-saving, because you can take steps to reverse the process. Things like exercising regularly, adding fiber to your diet and cutting down on sodas also help prevent diabetes.
6. Know Your Numbers: Your Cholesterol Numbers, That Is
Men are at greater risk of having a heart attack than women, and one of the best way to reduce that risk is to start by finding out what your cholesterol score is. High cholesterol clogs up the blood vessels, so check yours by making a quick trip to see your family doctor. It’s a very fast and simple test, and knowing your cholesterol level is one of the most important things you can do for your health right now.
7. Chill Out
Everyone has stress in their life, but too much stress is not only unpleasant, it’s harmful to the body. Stress can raise your blood pressure, cause stomach ulcers and suppress your immune system, among other things. Relax by taking some time for yourself, doing activities you enjoy with family and friends, or just carving out some “me” time.
8. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep (and Repeat)
Are you getting enough sleep? Like most people, the answer is probably no, but the power of sleep is undeniable. It can result in a better mood, better weight control, clearer thinking and improved memory.
9. Schedule Regular Check-Ups with Your Doctor
Visiting your doctor for a regular checkup at least once a year will help you stay on top of your health. Your doctor will do routine checks like monitoring your blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol, but may also ask you to go for extra exams if you have a family history of certain cancers or heart disease. Catching a disease early can make all the difference to survival, so if you haven’t seen your doctor yet this year, make an appointment now.
10. Go Home, Get Connected
You may work long hours and do a lot of overtime, but don’t make it a habit if you can avoid it. Working too many hours is associated with a greater risk of anxiety and depression, which can harm health. The good news is that spending extra time with a great network of family, friends and loved-ones is linked to longer life. Always speak to your doctor before starting any new diets, medications, or significant lifestyle changes, or if you’re stuck for ideas on how to get motivated.