June is the month when we get to celebrate fathers and father figures in our lives. In the world of public health, June is also Men’s Health Month. Not only do we get to celebrate fathers, but we get to raise awareness for men’s health and encourage healthy living in our homes and families.
Men’s Health Month is for everyone who cares about a guy in their life. Men die five years younger than women and have a higher mortality rate for three of the top 10 causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, and unintentional injuries. Men are also less likely to be insured than women, suggesting they may not get the healthcare they need.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put out a list of the top 10 leading causes of death for males (of all ages, races, and origins):
1) Heart disease
3) Unintentional injuries
4) Chronic lower respiratory diseases
7) Alzheimer’s disease
9) Influenza and pneumonia
10) Chronic liver disease
Most of these causes for earlier death in men are preventable. The World Journal of Men’s Health suggests five healthy lifestyle changes necessary for good health for men. Men should 1) avoiding smoking and keep alcohol consumption moderate; 2) maintain a healthy body weight; 3) control blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol to recommended levels; 4) stay physically active; and 5) take care of mental health with stress management and good sleep.
Doing everything on the list for a healthy lifestyle change can be daunting, but any one change can make a world of difference. Begin with easy, manageable steps, and build from that success. Some things you can do today to encourage men in your life to lead healthier lives are:
1. Schedule their physical with your healthcare provider. Seeing a primary physician for a regular check-up is the first step to leading a healthier life. This will help establish baselines for blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and PSA (a screening test for prostate cancer risk) to monitor changes over time and catch fluctuations that could signal danger while conditions are still treatable.
2. Do a physical activity together and do it regularly. Encouraging physical activity is encouraging healthiness. Don’t just tell the men in your life to exercise, do it together! This will encourage healthy living in your life as well.
3. Provide emotional support for the challenges and stresses of life. Be there for all the men in your life and let them know you care about their health. As human beings, we strive for love, affection, and acceptance. Men are no exception. Be there for them and let them know you want them around as long as possible.
The scare of COVID-19 deaths in vulnerable populations is a reminder that lifestyle choices we make today can impact our vulnerability to disease later. Men’s Health Month is a reminder that healthy living starts today. As we celebrate fathers, let’s also celebrate healthy lifestyle choices and keep them close for years to come.
Coley Bean, M.S., has a master’s degree in public health and is currently the public health assistant at USU Tooele Extension.
Maren Wright Voss, ScD, is a professional practice extension assistant professor of health and wellness at the USU Extension – Tooele County Office, which is located inside the Tooele County Health Department Building, 151 N. Main, Tooele. She can be reached at 435-277-2409 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.