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Doctors Risk

Let’s talk about Men’s Health!

Men are often reluctant to seek health-related help, according to the age-old stereotype. And whether that long-standing typecast is true or false, various articles on men’s health are promoting male healthcare measures that are a must-read if you are determined to reach your ultimate health and fitness goals. Some health complications, including erectile dysfunction and prostate cancer, are unique to men, while other health issues are more likely in men than women, such as lung cancer, coronary heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and HIV infection.

Men’s health is used here to refer both to the physical and mental health problems that are of concern for men and to health differentials among men. Moreover, when one speaks of ‘men’s health’ one also calls attention to differences in the health and health care needs of boys and men as compared to girls and women. These differences extend far beyond the obvious differences in the reproductive systems. Men in most developed countries suffer more severe chronic conditions than women. They also have higher death rates for most leading causes of death and die about six years younger than women on average. Biological and social factors contribute to gender differences in health. From a biological perspective, these gender differences can be attributed to anatomical and physiological differences between men and women. Health behaviours are important factors influencing health and longevity, and men are more likely than women to engage in behaviours that increase the risk of disease and death. A social constructivist approach argues that the practices that undermine men’s health are often signifiers of masculinity and instruments men use in the negotiation of social power and status.

The average man pays less attention to his health than the average woman. Compared to women, men are more likely to –

  •  drink alcohol and use tobacco;
  •  make risky choices;
  • does not see a doctor for regular check-ups.

Men are assailed by the diseases that can affect anyone—heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, depression. But they also have unique issues such as prostate cancer and benign prostate enlargement.

Many of the major health risks that men face can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle: regular exercise, a healthy diet, not smoking, stress reduction, and alcohol consumption in the moderate range (no more than two drinks a day) if at all. Regular check-ups and screening tests can spot disease early when it is easiest to treat.

Let’s face it, men are often hesitant to talk about their health concerns or visit the doctor. That needs to change. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, men die at higher rates than women from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, influenza/pneumonia, kidney disease, accidents, and suicides. Early detection and treatment can improve your odds of surviving illnesses.

Many of the major health risks that men face can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle, and a healthy lifestyle can start with one small choice. Make your first one today! Here are nine tips to get you started:

Move:

Men need at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, each week. Moderate activities include brisk walking and mowing the lawn. You should still be able to have a conversation while doing these activities, but not quite hold an extended musical note of your favourite song. Vigorous activities include running, swimming laps, singles tennis, bicycling at least 10 mph, or jumping rope. Add strength and resistance training exercises (bodyweight or gravity alone is fine) at least twice a week, and include all major muscle groups, doing one set of 10 repetitions per exercise.

Say no to tobacco:

Quitting smoking improves your health and lowers your risk of heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and other smoking-related illness. Avoid second-hand smoke. Don’t vape, chew tobacco, or use other tobacco products. They all increase your risk of cancer.

Control stress:

Stress is part of life. Focus on taking care of yourself. Talk to friends and loved ones. Let them know how you’re feeling and how they can help. Don’t use drugs or alcohol in an attempt to deal with your stress. They create more problems than they solve.

Eat better:

Reduce your consumption of processed and packaged foods. Stick to shopping for what’s on the outside aisles of the grocery store. Pick one dietary indiscretion – something you don’t need to eat — and cut back. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and nuts. You can also try fish, chicken, turkey, or pork.

Drink water:

Increase your water intake when you are more physically active in hot or cold climates, running a fever, or have diarrhoea or are vomiting. If your urine is clear, you’re appropriately hydrated. Carry a reusable water bottle throughout the day and sip from it regularly. Refill it when empty. When eating out, substitute water with a wedge of lemon or lime for a sugar-sweetened beverage.

Get plenty of sleep:

Sleep hygiene is crucial. Go to bed and get up around the same time every day. Sleep in a cool, quiet, dark place. Don’t watch TV or use your phone in bed. Aim for seven or eight hours of sleep per night.

Prevention first:

Cancer screening tests can spot disease early when it’s easier to treat. And immunizations can prevent many illnesses from impacting you at all. If you have any concerns, visit your doctor before they become major issues.

Nurture positive relationships:

Be present with your loved ones. Stop staring at electronic screens and live in the moment with those around you. Help others. Be kind. Smile and laugh more. Complain less.

Use mindfulness:

Consider activities that allow for self-reflection. Even certain apps can help start you on this process. Meditation, yoga, and other “centring” activities can further expand your mind. At the end of your day, reflect on something you learned and how you can use that to improve your tomorrow.

Men’s health is affected by their self-concept as men. Masculinity is a socially constructed concept with implications for the way men experience stress, depression, and mental illness. It also affects the way men seek help and access resources. A traditional concept of masculinity implies self-sufficiency, physical strength, and mental and emotional toughness. Although men’s roles are changing to include more emotionally complex and family-oriented activities, social support for these roles has not yet caught up. This has increased men’s stress and possibly increased exposure to health and mental health conditions. Given men’s reluctance to seek help for stress and health and mental health conditions, they are experiencing an underrecognized health disparity. Men’s own desire to be healthy is expressed through athleticism. The concept of masculinity needs to be expanded to enable men to accept help for coping with stress, mental health, and physical health conditions.

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