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Men: Pay attention to your health
By Lisa Franzen-Castle
Extension Nutrition Specialist, PhD, RD
UNL Panhandle Research & Extension Center
Men’s health issues significantly impact everyone around them, and far too many men never see a doctor unless there is something seriously wrong or a partner or spouse makes the appointment for them.
June is Men’s Health Month, and every year Men's Health Week is celebrated in the week leading up to and including Father's Day.
Anchored by a Congressional health education program, Men's Health Month is celebrated with screenings, health fairs, media appearances, and other health education and outreach activities.
The purpose of Men's Health Month is to increase awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.
Tips for men on how to take better care of themselves:
- Get regular checkups. Just because you feel fine doesn't mean you don't need an annual checkup. Certain diseases and conditions may not have symptoms, so checkups help diagnose issues early or before they become a problem. See your doctor or nurse for regular checkups.
- Be more active. June is a great time to start a healthier lifestyle by being more physically active. Research shows being physically active helps prevent heart disease and obesity, and lowers blood pressure. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes on most days. You can even spread it out over the course of your day. Walking briskly, mowing the lawn, playing team sports, and biking are just a few examples of how to get moving.
- Improve the quality of your diet. Some tips on how to improve the nutritional quality of your diet include eating a varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat foods. Especially limit cholesterol intake and avoid saturated fats.
- Get enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep is associated with certain chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. It’s also responsible for motor vehicle and machinery-related accidents. The National Sleep Foundation has noted that sleep needs change as we age. However, there is no "magic number" as individual sleep needs vary. In general adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep.
- Know your numbers. Keep track of your numbers for blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and body mass index (BMI). These numbers can provide a glimpse of your health status and risk for certain diseases. Ask your doctor or nurse what tests you need and how often you need them. If your numbers are high or low, he or she can explain what they mean and make recommendations to help you get them to a healthier range.
- Pay attention to warning signs. When a warning light flashes on the car dashboard, most men take the car to the shop. But when warning lights flash on their body, most men do not (or will not) notice. Examples of flashing lights to look for are changes in bowel or bladder habits, persistent backaches, recurrent chest pains, and extreme fatigue.
Women and men should educate themselves about potential male health problems. Check out www.menshealthnetwork.org for resources and health facts.
For more food, nutrition and health information go to www.food.unl.edu.