The bill that established National Men’s Health Week in 1994 cited a long list of particulars about why such an observance was needed. They included the fact that men’s life expectancy was seven years shorter than that of women, and that men were far less likely to monitor their health. Certain diseases peculiar to men, such as prostate cancer, were on that bill of particulars, but most of the items had to do with men’s tendency to ignore or postpone measures that might have contributed to longer, more enjoyable lives.
The week leading to Father’s Day has marked it ever since – June 11-17 this year – and Men’s Health Month was built around that original week, throughout June, to accommodate all the events and participation that it has inspired.
Some Tips are Expected
Some of the vital health pointers are expected, even familiar, and there’s a danger in that familiarity. “Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard all that before,” could be a deadly response to the CDC’s reminders to “Toss out the tobacco,” move more and eat healthy. Adopting these tips may not be easy, but it’s pretty simple.
More men are successful in quitting cigarettes when they get some form of help, and when they keep on trying. Few quit on the first try and many more succeed when they consult a doctor for some support.
At least 2½ hours of exercise – moderate aerobic activity – is called for every week. Muscle strengthening exercises two days a week or more are now officially in the CDC recommendations because of their capacity for improving metabolism and circulation, and avoiding accidents. Every major muscle group needs resistance exercise, from legs, hips, abdomen, and back to chest, shoulders, and arms. You know you’ll feel better when you make this part of your life.
Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and cut down on calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol. There it is in once sentence. Nutrition might be the subject we have made to sound the most complicated. Fads ebb and flow, and theories extend into a level of detail that can stun all but the most patient bio-chemistry majors. This year, the CDC makes it a lot simpler. For the classic “meat-and-potatoes man,” it might help to remind ourselves that fruits and vegetables may help protect from chronic diseases because of the vitamins and minerals they deliver. The CDC calls it “putting your best fork forward.”
And Some May be Unexpected
Sleep is first on the CDC’s list of suggestions and that might be surprising. Getting by with little sleep might be a macho badge of sorts in our vigorous American outlook, however, lack of sleep not only contributes to auto and machinery accidents, but also to deadly chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression.
“Tame stress,” the CDC says. Stress is a fact of life, and, in some measures, might be a positive influence. But allowing stress to build to anxiety is a hazard in itself, and can lead to other hazards, too. When we connect with other people, stay physically active and avoid alcohol and drugs we are on the right track to putting stress in its place.
Don’t Go Uncoached
In conclusion, the CDC suggestions advise seeing a doctor regularly, because many hazards, conditions, and diseases come without symptoms. Regular checkups are our best tools for “situational awareness,” the key to responding to life the way we want to respond, with intelligence and responsibility.
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