Men die five years younger than women, on average, and it took an act of Congress to suggest they take better care of themselves. Honest. It was 1994 when Sen. Bob Dole sponsored that act, establishing the week leading to Fathers’ Day as Men’s Health Week – this year it’s June 10-16. Has it been effective? Well when the act was established, men’s average mortality was seven years younger than that of women. You might say that’s two years of impact from 25 years of observance. Gradual improvement is a good thing in fitness and well-being, but maybe this is a bit too gradual.
And overall mortality is not the only bad score. Men die at a higher rate than women from nine of the top 10 causes of death. Surely this is not the kind of leadership most men strive to achieve. Men’s Health Month extends throughout June, and the purpose of both the month and the week is to raise awareness of the solutions. But knowing the solutions calls for recognizing the causes, of this mortality, too. Certain diseases are peculiar to men, such as prostate cancer, but most of the reasons men die younger have to do with men’s tendency to ignore or postpone measures that might have contributed to longer, more enjoyable lives.
Not Hard to Follow
Most of the tips set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for improving the quality of men’s lives and reducing their chances of disease, are not particularly difficult. The CDC list of choices and habits that turn our lives in the direction of health include some expected tips, like diet and exercise, and one urgent step – quitting cigarettes. Less expected, perhaps are pointers about getting more sleep and taming stress.
For cigarettes, get help. Studies show again and again that people who get the backup of professional help are much more likely to be successful quitters. Few quit on the first try and many more succeed when they consult a doctor for some support.
Get more sleep. Getting by on your current nightly routine is no sign that you’re getting enough sleep. “Short nights” might be a macho badge of sorts, but it is a contributor to deadly chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression, not to mention car accidents and machinery mishaps. Who knows how much sleep is right for you? Your doctor can help you get a real answer.
Getting a Straight Answer
Nutrition might be the subject we’ve made to sound the most complicated. Now the CDC gets it all down to one sentence: Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, and cut down on calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol.
Exercise? At least 2½ hours of moderate aerobic exercise is called for every week. Muscle strengthening exercises two days a week or more are now officially in the CDC recommendations because resistance exercise can improve metabolism and circulation, and help men avoid accidents.
The simplest CDC tip of all is to see a doctor regularly, because many of the hazards, conditions and diseases men face 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.
We’d be honored to take that coaching job. Call us at 843-815-6468.