By Sophia L. Thomas, DNP, FNP-BC, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP
This week is Men’s Health Week, which is celebrated every year during the week leading up to Father’s Day. This is a week filled with thankfulness as we honor the men in our lives and consider ways to keep them healthy and happy. In fact, most men need more than a golf trip or a morning spent sleeping in to get their health back on track.
Men are facing some pretty substantial health problems:
- Approximately 14.9% of men over the age of 18 are in fair or poor health.
- Men are more likely than women to get Type 2 diabetes, and men often have no idea they have it.
- The average age at which men are diagnosed with testicular cancer is 33, and early detection is critical.
- Over 248,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, and survival rates range from 98% to 26%, depending on the stage when diagnosed.
- More than 30% of men will experience depression, and men are four times as likely as women to commit suicide.
- Hypertension is present in 51.9% of men over the age of 20.
- Approximately 13.2% of men under the age of 65 don’t have health insurance.
Men, including dads who are knee deep in parenting right now, are not generally as healthy as women, and unhealthy men are unknowingly shaving years off their lives. On average, men live five years fewer than women. What’s the reason for this discrepancy? One of the biggest factors is the fact that women are 33% more likely to visit a primary care provider than men.
Additionally, roughly 20% of men don’t discuss health-related matters with anyone, and half would rather talk about current events, sports or their job than health problems they are experiencing. It’s important that we talk about how to adopt healthy habits and start to live healthier lives.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only served to heighten men’s health concerns. According to the CDC, nearly 41% of U.S. adults delayed or avoided health care because of the pandemic.
Men, it is time to tackle these issues head on and reclaim your health by starting with these simple steps:
Increase daily activity. More than 80% of adults don’t get the recommended amount of exercise. Decreased physical activity is linked with an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other serious health problems. Are you unsure where to start? Completing several 10-minute exercise intervals a day can provide the same benefits as a much longer workout.
Sleep more. One in three adults do not get enough sleep. Adults should shoot for at least seven hours of sleep each night. Avoiding electronics before bed, sleeping in a dark room and getting up at the same time each morning can help you sleep better. However, if you’re still exhausted, meet with a health care provider, such as a nurse practitioner (NP), to see if you have an underlying sleep problem.
Consume less alcohol. Men are more likely to drink excessively, and over time, this can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and liver disease. Limit the number of drinks you consume per week, and if you’re worried that you are drinking too much, meet with your health care provider to see how they can help.
Eat healthier. In today’s busy world, it can be challenging to plan meals ahead of time and cook, but increasing the amount of fruits, protein and vegetables in your diet can help your health in the long run. Freeze healthy meals for busy days, eat out less and keep healthy snacks on hand that are easy to grab and enjoy, such as nuts, grapes and berries.
Have regular checkups. Your health care provider can help you stop bad health habits in their tracks. Schedule yearly checkups with your NP or other health care provider, and reach out to them any time you notice a change in your health.
Let’s make this Men’s Health Week and Father’s Day the time we turn this trend around by helping the men in our lives reclaim their health.