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What You Can Do for Men’s Health Month 2013

Words cannot express how disappointing it is that when the Aussies started the now worldwide craze of Movember (the manly art of growing a mustache all month to raise awareness of male cancers in November), the honorable month of June became a forgotten outcast. It’s the coronated host of Men’s Health Month, and yet June gets little acknowledgement or recognition for focusing on those health issues that are unique to half the planet’s population.

Men’s Health Month supporters are asked to wear a blue pin, but perhaps they should be encouraged to grow a beard instead – if Movember is any indication, public interest piques when facial hair is invoked. But until Beard-une (or should it be Jun-eard?) is officially inaugurated, here are a few proactive steps that all men can undertake (and be encouraged to undertake by wives, girlfriends, moms, daughters and grandmothers) to look after themselves starting in June.

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Get a Physical

It is astonishing how many men don’t get regular physicals. For younger guys in their 20s and 30s, a physical health check-up is recommended for every three to five years, while men aged 40 to 50 should get checked out every other year, and after 50 years old it needs to become annual affair. For many men, the fear of the “rubber-glove test” secretly keeps them away, or some may claim that they don’t need to see a doctor when they feel just fine. But the truth is that a thorough physical with a blood analysis can detect early signs of serious medical conditions such as prostate, colon and other cancers, STDs, genetic disorders, stress-related conditions, high cholesterol, cardiac disease and lots more. So guys, make like a girl and schedule a physical soon – it’s the most manly thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones.


Join a Gym

Playing ball with the boys is good exercise, but unless you play at least a couple of times a week, it is not enough. And golf doesn’t count as exercise. Getting several sessions of cardio (the kind that works up a sweat and involves the treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical machine) is what will keep your heart pumping beyond retirement. While you’re at the gym, pick up some weights, too, because muscles, tissue and joints break down over time without use.

Getting off the sofa and going to the gym is easy, once you find a gym that you actually like. Be sure to shop around, but beware of very cheap membership fees – if you don’t feel like your gym is an investment, you may be less likely to use the facilities regularly. For many people, a slightly pricier gym can offer better services, better staff, and a better encouragement to go work out.


Quit Smoking

This tip applies to everyone, but especially men – they are more likely than women to smoke, and smoking and tobacco-related diseases claim more men’s lives than just about any other avoidable cause. The fact is, quitting smoking can add several years to your life, and there is no such thing as “too late to quit.” Even men who are not tobacco users can get involved. Help a friend quit by offering support; this will benefit their health and your health, because secondhand smoke is considered to be as toxic as unfiltered cigarette smoke. Plus, quitting tobacco will save some serious money every month, so maybe that former smoker will buy you a present with their extra cash. Also, be a man and talk to your kids about the dangers of smoking in June, since keeping them healthy and tobacco-free will save you from future stress.


Get a Hobby

Watching television or surfing the web doesn’t count. A real hobby can go a long way toward managing stress, and double points if it is something that can be done with your family, triple points if it gets you outside for some fresh air. The key is to take up an activity that can be stopped and started easily, so that it can be enjoyed frequently and without too much concern for time restraints or a difficult-to-reach location. It is also smart to pick something that fits your budget, physical condition, abilities and lifestyle.


Eat Something Healthy…Everyday

This doesn’t mean going Level Five Vegan; it just means making better choices about what you put down your neck. For most guys, June marks the start of barbeques, summer vacations, and outdoor sports. Have a good time and enjoy the summer, just don’t overdo it on the burgers, hotdogs, beer, chips, ice cream and junk food. Having at least one healthy meal everyday will do wonders for your health, and your intestines will thank you.


Take Naps

Turns out our grandfathers were smarter than we knew. Getting a few short naps each week has huge benefits, including improved focus and memory, reduced stress, quicker muscle recovery after exercise, better sleep at night followed by an easier waking pattern in the morning, more energy, and even weight loss thanks to a decreased need for caffeine and sugar. Plus, humans are hardwired for biphasic sleep (twice daily), so it is only natural to have a little siesta from time to time when needed.


When All Else Fails, Call Your Mother

Randomly calling up someone important to you (like your mother) is one of the best ways to show you care about them. Plus it promotes healthy relationships and even reduces stress (as long as you don’t get into an argument with the person you call). If you are struggling to find something to talk about, just tell them it’s Men’s Health Month and you want to take a little better care of yourself. This should get them talking about how they are happy for you and wish you all the best. So in the end, you will feel loved too. Pretty mushy stuff, but it’s still important. And best of all you don’t have to use the “L” word; they will likely know it, just because you called.


And for the Ladies Out There

All year long women are after their man to take better care of himself, so when he finally listens up, you can offer gentle encouragements to help him get on top of his health. Whether it is scheduling that physical with his doctor while he is at work (make sure he agrees to it first, though) or just adjusting your schedule a little bit to go for a walk, being supportive goes a long way toward keeping him in a healthy routine. Plus, his newly minted health consciousness can spill over and make you and the rest of the family healthier, too.

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