Yes, it took an act of Congress to encourage men to take care of themselves. Senator Bob Dole sponsored that act in 1994. The week leading to Father’s Day has marked it ever since – June 12-18 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.

The bill that established National Men’s Health Week 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

Coaching for Health: Some Tips are Expected

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention focuses this year on just a handful of steps men can take to improve the quality of their lives and reduce the potential for disease.

Some of the vital 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.

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 lots simpler. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, and cut down on calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol. There it is in once sentence. 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.

And Some May Be Unexpected

Sleep is first on the CDC’s list of suggestions and that in itself might be surprising. Getting by with little sleep might be a macho badge of sorts in our vigorous American outlook, but 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.

We’d be honored to take that coaching job. Call us at 843-815-6468.