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Living Well: How to Keep the Men in Our Lives Healthy

Men's heath matters! Read along as we offer insight into living well.

Each month has its designations, reminding us to focus on certain events. Men's Health Week is June 13 - 19! With Father's Day falling on June 19th, it's the perfect time to brush up on what you need to know to keep the men in your lives healthy!

I scoured through some sources to locate good information and tips for achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In our country, the leading causes of death in men are:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • cancer
  • injuries from accidents

Men are generally less likely than women to establish a professional relationship with a physician. Yet considering these statistics, they ought to:

  • only 37 percent of men (over 18) regularly exercise
  • 23 percent of men over 18 smoke, or regularly use tobacco products
  • 32 percent drink more than five alcoholic drinks in one day, more than once during the  past year

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 32 percent of American adult males are overweight. Most health experts agree that following these simple steps, could improve health for American males:

  • improved diet and nutrition
  • keeping their mid-section lean
  • keeping blood pressure within normal limits
  • preventing or controlling diabetes
  • watching cholesterol

Yet there are a few other tips that can improve overall health. They include taking extra precautions to prevent eye injuries during sports activities, wearing sunblock to prevent skin cancer and wearing protective equipment when working with machinery, to minimize the risk of injury.

Questions About Cancer:

There are cancers that affect men as well.

Colorectal cancer is considered one of the most preventable cancers, if you know to look for it.  Experts recommend screening colonoscopies after age 50.  If you are less than 50-years-old and cancer runs in your family, have your first colonoscopy 10 years before the person was diagnosed.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men.  And while the concept makes some men run for cover, a yearly exam after age 40 is worth the discomfort, experts say. Add lycopene-rich foods to your diet, to reduce your risk.  With the arrival of warmer weather, it’s easy to add a few servings of watermelon and tomatoes to your daily meals.

Testicular cancer is more common among men between the ages of 15-35 and is usually linked to a strong family history.  Experts urge you to perform, monthly exams, being alert for lumps and bumps, testicle enlargement or a full sensation in the lower abdomen.

A more complete list of available screenings offer a good starting point for developing a customized list tailored to your family history, exposure risks, and concerns. Log on to: www.menshealthnetwork.org/library/pdfs/GetItChecked.pdf.

Nutrition:

Nutrition also plays a central role in maintaining good health. The Tuesday Gulfport Fresh Market  allows the purchase fresh and locally produced fruit and vegetables. There are also more than a handful of healthy eating choices in town.  From tasty veggie wraps at Yummy’s Gulfport, to tangy salsas at Peg’s Cantina, to tasty tomato tarts at T and Me Tea Company,  you can easily get five servings of fruit and vegetables daily. That's important because they are good sources of nutrients and carbohydrates.

Consider your salt intake and start reading labels. It’s rather surprising to see how the salt adds up - and it’s not always from your shaker. According to the Centers for Disease Control, we should only consume 2,300 mg or less each day. If you have, you might want to half that number.

Include green tea in your diet- it’s rich in anti-oxidants. You might include volunteer work, music and a support network of good friends in your list of healthy behaviors. If you’re feeling a bit isolated, consider adopting a pet, trying a new hobby, learning a language or taking a class. Be sure you include humor, laughter and fun in your schedule.

It is wise to eat whole grains versus processed. Watch the coffee drinks --some may be high in calories, saturated fat and sugar. Be aware that processed meats- such as sausage, ham and bacon. They have been associated with higher levels of cardiovascular problems, colorectal cancer and type 2 diabetes. Consuming these products in moderation is the key to success.

Sleep:

Getting enough sleep is paramount to maintaining good health, lowering your risk of injury, and increasing your mental acuity. Experts say it is often true that that those who sleep on their sides, may have a lower risk of snoring, which can interfere with good sleep hygiene.

Exercise:

Raising your pulse rate is also important. Exercise is good for hearts, minds and bones. It also improves balance and helps keep you sharp and alert. You should also pay attention to exercises that strengthen your core. If you are at least 50-years-old, consider some of the array of courses offered at the  Gulfport Multipurpose Senior Center.

Losing belly fat has positive impacts and eating six small meals daily may help you achieve that goal. Remaining flexible should also be on your list. Yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi classes alow for improved balance, coordination and are calming. Reducing stress is also important.

Mental Health/Depression:

While men typically avoid discussing the pressures they face, depression can strike at any age. Symptoms include:

  • poor or interrupted sleep  (sleeping too much, or too little)
  • declining interest in activities or social interactions/work
  • poor concentration
  • change in motor coordination
  • a marked change in appetite
  • thoughts of death

Coping strategies include seeking support, or someone to talk to (family, friend or a physician). However, if you feel despondent or have suicidal thoughts, you should seek professional help immediately. Call the Tampa Bay Crisis Center and speak with a counselor

In general, choosing a healthy lifestyle and having regular check-ups work to your advantage by promoting early detection and ongoing communication.  

Moderation and prevention are key strategies to aging and living well. With Gulfport's proximity to water and a pleasant set of streets for wallking, hiking, kayak and biking trails, staying healthy should be a relatively smooth undertaking.

Resources:

We offer a few resources that help define certain diseases and identify symptoms:

To report a case: 1-800-CDC-INFO (24/7)

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