June is Men's Health Month! This month is all about raising awareness about health issues affecting men and boys. In June we want to bring awareness to the challenges men face in life to build a stronger tomorrow.
Mike Worth, Assistant Professor
Men are less likely to see their doctor about a health issue than women. Why is it important for men to see their doctors regularly?
It is well known that men, on average, do not live as long as women. What is less well-known is that men, when diagnosed with a chronic condition, tend to be diagnosed at later stages of disease compared to women. In other words, men have a worse prognosis at diagnosis compared to women for many chronic conditions. Why is this? There are lots of reasons, but one that has been cited is that men feel as though they can handle what is going on and that they do not need to see a doctor. By the time symptoms get so bad that men have to see a doctor, it may be too late for a cure or reversal of consequences related to disease progression. The main reason men should seek regular medical care is to increase longevity and decrease likelihood of being diagnosed with a chronic medical condition that has become irreversible. In addition to this, lack of regular medical care may lead to symptoms that, although are not due to a major chronic illness, may lead to general complaints (e.g., joint pain). This may decrease quality of life and impact healthy aging.
How do you stay active as a family (with two young kids)?
During the COVID-19 pandemic with at-home childcare, while trying to work from home, it has been very difficult to maintain physical activity levels. During these times, what has worked is finding creative ways to incorporate young kids into exercise. For example, I will go for a short run around the neighborhood. After I get back, I will take my 3-year old for a short run or let him run down the street while I lunge walk. My older son is a great weight! I can use him for lifting and he loves that. Kids that age seemingly have endless energy. If you want a great agility workout with an exercise partner that never wares down, tell your 3-year old to try and tag you. I guarantee that will give you a high-intensity workout that will leave you breathing hard.
Demetrius Abshire, Assistant Professor
How do you take care of your mental health?
I find that planning, engaging in healthy behaviors, and staying balanced are key to taking care of my mental health. I try to have a generally structured day and week so that I have a reasonable idea about how things are going to flow. I don’t strive for too much structure, though, as my mental health could suffer if things don’t go exactly as planned. So for example, I generally know that I’m at my physical and mental best when I exercise at least once per day. I may plan to go for a relatively long bike ride in the evening, but things may get busy at work or I may need to spend more time addressing a particular family need. When that happens, I may decide to go for a short walk or run instead. I also deliberately schedule downtime. It’s easy to get caught up in everything that needs to be done at work or at home, so one of my favorite things to do is camp or go on a long bike ride. I find that these two activities are great for when I need to get away from a screen or when I need time to myself. Once I return from a long weekend of camping or a long bike ride, I feel much more mentally refreshed.
What are some tips to stay healthy for a male who doesn’t live in an area with easy access to healthy foods?
Access to healthy foods definitely makes staying healthy easier. For people who don’t live in areas with convenient access to healthy foods, there are a few things that may help. First, consider how available foods are being prepared. If certain foods tend to be fried, it may be possible to bake those foods instead. Another strategy may be to purchase frozen fruits and vegetables if fresh fruits and vegetables aren’t readily available. I have also heard of couples and friends who split a single meal when dining out. This may be a helpful strategy when there aren’t options for healthy dining, but people still want to dine out. Finally, I would say that drink choices are important. Sugary sodas and fruit drinks tend to be high in calories and low in nutritional value. If someone regularly consumes these types of beverages, one first step might be to decrease the amount that is being consumed. Some people would probably disagree with me, but I think it’s more important to be realistic and make progress rather than idealistic and give up.