Written By Erlina Bay, nurse practitioner, MedExpress located in Irving
While the leading causes of death among both men and women are heart disease and cancer, it may surprise you that the third leading cause of death for men is unintentional injuries or accidental deaths. Although health and well-being tips are great reminders for everyone, June is recognized as Men’s Health Month, making now the perfect time to talk about on health issues that are specific to men. And some men’s health statistics are truly eye-opening.
For example, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s National Health Statistics Center, men have had a consistently lower life expectancy than women, with the latest data showing that male life expectancy is 76.1 compared to women at 81.1. Quality of life is also a concern, too: the CDC reports that in men aged 20 or older, 40.5% are considered obese and 51.9% have high blood pressure and/or are taking medication to reduce their blood pressure.
In addition to general health concerns, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a broad decline in U.S. adults seeking health care and generally higher levels of reported stress. These statistics are especially concerning for men who have been shown to seek health care, and specifically mental health care services, less frequently than women. In fact, a recent study published in the American Journal of Men’s Health revealed that men are less likely than women to seek help for mental health difficulties. This is an issue because globally, males are nearly twice as likely to take their own lives compared to women.
Although these statistics are likely concerning for men and their loved ones, many of the health challenges that men face can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle and getting recommended and timely preventive health screenings and services.
Regular health exams and tests can help find problems before they start, which is why regular checkups, including those for mental health, are so important. In many cases, clinical preventive services, like routine disease screening and scheduled immunizations, are often covered by Medicare, Medicaid and many private insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, making care accessible and affordable to those who need it.
In addition to seeking medical care, men should consider prioritizing diet and exercise, too. For example, it’s important to be mindful at mealtime – half of a plate should contain fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, lean proteins like seafood, beans and eggs and low-fat or fat-free dairy should be included, too.
Likewise, a little exercise each week can go a long way. Men who are 18 and over should strive to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity, such as brisk walking or jogging. Younger men should also focus on muscle strengthening activities like weightlifting, while men aged 65 and older should try to incorporate balance-challenging activities such standing on one foot.
Whether it’s visiting a doctor for an annual physical, cutting back on the empty calories, or hitting the gym after work a few times a week, there are many ways for men to help take charge of their wellbeing and engage in a healthier lifestyle.
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