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Time for a Tune-Up: A Look at Men’s Health

June 02, 2020

More than three-fourths of men prefer to clean the bathroom rather than to visit the doctor. Yes, you read that right! Now let’s take a deeper dive into men’s health.

Lest you think we made up that statistic, rest assured that it’s true. A Cleveland Clinic men’s health study published in 2019 found that 72% of men would rather clean the toilet than have a checkup.

Why is that, though?

F. Gregory Cox, MD
F. Gregory Cox, MD

For some reason, many men do not consider regular visits to the doctor as a key part of taking care of themselves. Instead, they will choose to steer clear of the doctor unless something is wrong.

But that pattern of thinking could put your health in danger. 

“Men sometimes put their health at the bottom of their priority list,” says Gregory Cox, MD, internal medicine physician with West Tennessee Medical Group. “But regular checkups with a doctor can help ensure you stay healthy for the long run, avoiding potential health problems in the future.”

 

The Car/Men’s Health Analogy
Let’s break this down with an easy analogy. You take your car to the mechanic for regular maintenance checks, where tests and services are performed to keep it running optimally.

Shouldn’t you invest the same focus in your own health?

An annual checkup with your doctor affords you the same opportunity that maintenance checks give your car. They enable your doctor—the mechanic—the chance to check up on your overall well-being to ensure you’re functioning at your best. During a checkup, you can also have tests run to ensure all parts are working well and get vaccines that protect your health.

Makes sense, right?

 

The Top Health Concerns Affecting Men’s Health
Why is it so important to have regular checkups? Well, many of the most common men’s health conditions can be prevented or managed through regular medical care. 

Let’s consider the top causes of death among men

  1. Heart disease
  2. Cancer
  3. Unintentional injuries
  4. Chronic respiratory diseases
  5. Stroke
  6. Diabetes
  7. Alzheimer’s disease
  8. Suicide
  9. Chronic liver disease
  10. Kidney disease

Of these causes, heart disease and cancer are by far the most common, causing 24.2% and 22.5% of deaths among men, respectively.

But there’s one important factor among most all of these causes—they’re largely at least partially preventable. Knowing your risk factors for these men’s health conditions is the first step toward preventing them.

 

How to Protect Men’s Health
Talk with your doctor about your individual risk factors and what conditions you may be likely to develop. He or she will be able to advise you about steps you can take to lower your risk.

But there are also some bigger picture health habits that can help maintain good health. Here are a few basic tips for maintaining good men’s health

 

  • Have regular checkups. Schedule a visit with your doctor at least once per year. This allows you to regularly gauge where your health stands and what you can do to improve it. These checkups also help your doctor discover potential health issues in their earliest stages, when they are most treatable.

 

  • Move more. Odds are you can probably stand to increase your physical fitness. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity—or 75 minutes of strenuous activity—each week. That’s not a lot; it adds up to just about 20 minutes of moderate activity per day.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Fill one half of your plate at every meal with fruits and vegetables, then divide the other half in two. One of those should be filled with whole grains, while the other should contain a serving of protein, whether meat or a meatless protein. Limit your intake of saturated fat, added sugars and excess sodium.
  • Moderate your alcohol intake. If you’re drinking a lot, you probably aren’t doing your health any favors. Men should limit their alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day. A drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor. 
  • Get enough quality sleep. How much is enough? Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimal health.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking increases your risk of nearly every major medical condition, so do yourself a favor and quit if you currently smoke. Work with your doctor to find a smoking cessation strategy that’s best for you.
  • Protect your skin. Men may think they’re impervious to the harmful effects of the sun, but men are actually twice as likely as women to develop basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma. Before spending time outside, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to all exposed skin.

 

 

“Practicing healthy lifestyle habits can help you greatly reduce your risk of many health conditions,” Dr. Cox says. “Combine those habits with regular checkups, and you’re doing your best to prevent illness.”

Need to get that checkup on the books? FIND A PROVIDER HEREand schedule an appointment!