Men, this is your month to think about something you never want to think about: your health.
A recent study showed 65 percent of men avoid going to the doctor as long as possible, and 72 percent said they would rather do household chores than see a doctor. Another 37 percent said they actually withhold information from a doctor when they finally get in front of one, because they fear a scary or embarrassing discussion, according to the study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic.
Let’s change that narrative during Men’s Health Month and all year long.
Here are six tips to help men take charge of their health from WellSpan providers Dr. Christopher McCarty of WellSpan Family Medicine – Terre Hill, Dr. Zachary Geidel of WellSpan Family Medicine – Cocalico, and Dr. John P. Shand, a psychiatrist and medical director for the psychiatry department at WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital.
You can hear more from the three physicians – and see a Lancaster Barnstormer’s baseball game for free – during a series of health talks to be held this summer at Clipper Magazine Stadium. Register here.
Here are their tips:
Make sure you are getting regular screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, and colon cancer, as well as staying current on your vaccinations by scheduling regular wellness exams with a provider, McCarty says. There is a reason high blood pressure is called “the silent killer” – you often experience no symptoms, and it can lead to heart disease, heart failure, and stroke, among other problems – so you need to know you have it before you can learn how to control it. Knowledge is power.
- Learn prostate cancer screening guidance.
Talk to your doctor if you are over age 45 about prostate cancer. Depending on your risk factors, your doctor may order blood tests to screen for this cancer. Prostate cancer is common in men, but screening is not beneficial for all. “Have the conversation with your doctor to find out what is best for you,” McCarty says.
Avoid strains, sprains, and other movement-related problems by finding ways to develop flexibility and strength. Try gentle stretching before the family softball game. At your home or actual office, take regular breaks during the day to do some desk pushups (incline your body against the desk) or chair squats (sit down on your chair but stop just before your rear end hits the chair). “Don’t be a weekend warrior. Stay active all week,” Geidel says. “Don’t save all of your movement for Saturdays or Sundays.”
Rest after a strenuous game of touch football or a hot day of yard work. Make sure you get adequate sleep (at least 7 hours a night) and eat a healthy diet. Treat your body like your car, Geidel says, with regular maintenance and upkeep.
Set limits on your device use. Avoid spending hours binge watching TV and incessantly checking work emails by setting a structured time for accessing devices, and sticking to it, Shand says.
- Schedule time for loved ones.
Intentionally schedule a date night with your partner, game time with your kids, walks to the park for a play session, or a conversation with a friend. “Make deliberate choices for connections, rather than waiting for them to happen or hoping you will find the time,” Shand says. “It is vital to your mental health.”
To find out more about your health risks, go here.